Steel, David

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Steel, David (b.1938). Liberal leader. Son of a Church of Scotland cleric, Steel was educated at George Watson's College and Edinburgh University, reading law. When returned to Parliament at a by-election for Roxburghshire in 1965, he was the youngest M P. Steel served as chief whip before defeating John Pardoe for the Liberal leadership in 1976 on the resignation of Jeremy Thorpe. His twelve years as leader saw collaboration then fusion with the Social Democratic Party, and steady progress. From thirteen members in 1976 the Liberals had seventeen in 1987. He retired from the leadership in 1988 and was succeeded by Paddy Ashdown. He was knighted in 1990 and made a life peer in 1997. From 1999 he has been presiding officer of the Scottish Parliament, sitting as one of the additional members for Lothians region.

J. A. Cannon