Alan Beith first stood for Berwick in the 1970 General Election, coming third. He won the seat with a majority of just 57 in the by-election of November 1973 which followed the resignation of Conservative Lord Lambton. He held the seat successfully in the General Elections of February and November 1974, which meant he had fought three elections in less than 12 months. He has continued to hold the seat at every election since and was successfully re-elected in May 2010. He retired from Parliament at the General Election in May 2015.
Alan Beith is a former Chief Whip of the Liberal Party and a former Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party and the Liberal Democrats. He is Chairman of the Justice Committee of the House of Commons and also chairs the House of Commons Liaison Committee. Alan was a member of the Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee from its creation in 1994 to 2008. In the House of Commons he served for 18 years as a member of the House of Commons Commission, and previously served on the Treasury Select Committee and the Procedure Committee. He was made a Privy Counsellor in 1992, and served as Deputy Chairman of the Committee of Privy Counsellors to review the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 and the Privy Council Review of the use of telephone intercept as evidence in prosecutions (2007). He also served on the Advisory Group on the implementation of its proposals.
Alan Beith is a regular contributor to debates on the role of Parliament and civil liberties issues. He is also President of the Historic Chapels Trust.
Alan Beith has held a wide range of posts within the Liberal Democrats' Parliamentary Party. He was Northern Ireland Spokesman from 1974 to 1976 and again in 1982. Between 1977 and 1983 he covered the Education and Fisheries portfolios and from 1985 to 1987 he was Foreign Affairs Spokesman, before taking on the Treasury portfolio which he held until 1994. From 1994 to 1999 Alan Beith was the Liberal Democrats' Home Affairs Spokesman.
Alan Beith was the Chief Whip of the Liberal Party from 1976 to 1985 when he became the party's Deputy Leader. In 1988 he stood against Paddy Ashdown for the leadership of the Social and Liberal Democrats (later shortened to the Liberal Democrats), the party formed following the merger of the Liberal Party and the SDP. Alan Beith was Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats from 1992 to 2003 under Paddy Ashdown and subsequently Charles Kennedy's leadership.
Alan Beith was born on 20 April, 1943. He attended the King's School in Macclesfield and went on to study at Balliol and Nuffield Colleges, Oxford University, before joining the staff of the University of Newcastle as a Lecturer in Politics.
Alan Beith married Barbara Ward in 1965; they had a son and a daughter. Barbara died in 1998 and their son died in 2000. Alan married Diana (Baroness Maddock), who is a former MP for Christchurch, in 2001.
Alan Beith was knighted in the Queen's Birthday Honours in 2008 and made a peer in 2015. He took his seat in the House of Lords in November 2015 where he is a working Liberal Democrat peer, Lord Beith of Berwick upon Tweed.
Alan Beith is a committed Christian and Methodist Lay Preacher. His interests include music, history, boats and walking. He speaks Welsh, French and Norwegian.