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Chesterfield Lib Dems pay tribute to Charles Kennedy

Charles Kennedy was a "principled, progressive and passionate" politician who had an uncanny ability to reach out across the political spectrum, John Bercow said as he led Commons tributes to the late Liberal Democrat leader.

The Commons Speaker said MPs would have the chance to pay their tribute to Mr Kennedy in a dedicated session immediately after Prime Minister's Questions tomorrow.

Mr Bercow said: "It is with great sadness I must report to the House the death of the former member for Ross, Skye and Lochaber, Charles Kennedy. Charles represented his constituency in its various forms in this House for almost 32 years, it is moreover a matter of record that he led his party, the Liberal Democrats from 1999 to 2006, achieving the best parliamentary representation of his party in this House in living memory.

"On a personal note, I was always grateful to Charles for his support, encouragement and co-operation. I think I carry the House with me in saying Charles Kennedy was a principled, progressive and passionate politician and very importantly a proud parliamentarian."

Mr Bercow continued: "In an age of pervasive cynicism about politics and politicians, Charles had that rare and uncanny capacity to cut through with large numbers of voters of all political persuasions and of none, right across the country.

"He was doubtless assisted in that by his obvious sincerity, his relaxed style and his geniality.

"I know he was widely liked and respected in all parts of this House and he will be sadly missed."

The Speaker added: "The House will want, I'm sure, to join me in offering our heartfelt condolences to his family and friends.

Chesterfield Spokesperson Julia Cambridge knew Charles Kennedy well and spoke to us about his life, his legacy and the future.

"It will be appropriate today for there to be very brief references to Charles and I hope the House will more widely take my lead when I say that tomorrow, after Prime Minister's Questions, there will be a dedicated session of tributes where people can say what they think and feel and remember about our departed colleague, Charles Kennedy.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt described Mr Kennedy as a "giant of his generation, loved and respected on all sides of the House".

Speaking at the start of Commons health questions, Mr Hunt said: "Thank you, Mr Speaker. As you said, we will have those tributes tomorrow, but I would just very briefly like to echo your comments because I know the whole House is shocked and deeply saddened at the untimely passing of Charles Kennedy.

"He was a giant of his generation, loved and respected on all sides of the House and our thoughts are particularly with Liberal Democrat members who knew him well and to whom he was a very, very good friend over many years.

"We'll all miss him as a brave and principled man, who had the common touch and proved that you can be passionate and committed without ever being bitter or bearing grudges. Our thoughts are with his whole family."

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