By Steve Hayes 12/06 Updated: 12/06 09:59
DAVID Cameron has led tributes to former Stratford MP John Maples after his death following a battle with cancer.
Mr Cameron described Lord Maples, who died Saturday, aged 69, as a 'loyal and determined Conservative' who he said had played a key role as deputy chairman of the party.
Lord Maples had become a peer after standing down at the 2010 general election.
A highly respected Conservative, he was Stratford MP for 13 years after being elected in 1997, having previously been Lewisham West MP from 1983 to 1992, and he was considered an important figure in the modernisation of the party.
"He recognised the need to change and modernise our party from an early time," David Cameron said.
"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', and added: "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' success as Stratford MP, Nadhim Zahawi, described him as a 'great Parliamentarian and dedicated constituency MP'.
"He was a gentle and decent man and a real source of help and advice to me when I was selected as the Conservative candidate for Stratford and later when I was elected as the MP.
"I think all those who met John will remember has as a personable and intelligent man.
"He served with distinction during his time in parliament, occupying the positions of Economic Secretary to the Treasury and Shadow Secretary of State for Health, Defence and Foreign Affairs during his 22 years as an MP.
"The deep affection in which he is held by all those who knew and worked with him in both the constituency and Westminster says a huge amount about the man that he was, and I know he will be sorely missed."
Mr Maples leaves behind his wife, Jane, and children, Tom and Rose.
"He loved them dearly and was a man whose family was always his priority," continued Mr Zahawi.
"No words of mine can make up of their loss, but British politics and Stratford will forever remember him for his outstanding service to his country and his constituents."
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