David Cameron paid tribute last night to former Tory minister John Maples, who has died at the age of 69 after a battle with cancer.
The Prime Minister said the former deputy chairman of the Conservative Party played a key role in his mission to modernise the Tories and find new talent to stand for election.
Lord Maples, a former deputy chairman of the Conservative Party, was economic secretary to the Treasury from 1990 to 1992.
He served as MP for Lewisham West from 1983 to 1992, and then for Stratford-on-Avon from 1997 to 2010 when the Tories were in opposition.
He became a peer after standing down at the last general election.
Mr Cameron said: “A loyal and determined Conservative, John played a key role as my deputy chairman for candidates prior to the last election.
“He recognised the need to change and modernise our party from an early time and, under his leadership, we selected – in some innovative ways – an unprecedented number of new and talented Parliamentary candidates, with nearly 150 elected to the House of Commons two years ago.
“These Members represent the future of our party – ensuring that, through their work, John’s legacy will live on for many years to come.
“He will be hugely missed by his many friends and colleagues from both within the Conservative Party and from across the political divide. He was widely respected, and a mentor to many of those he helped realise their own ambition of public service.”
Mr Cameron said Lord Maples had fought cancer with “typical courage and dignity”, adding: “The end came all too soon, but at least his suffering is now over. His passing is a loss to the Conservative Party and to politics more generally.”
Lord Maples’ death on Saturday was announced to peers yesterday by Lord Speaker Baroness D’Souza.