Viscount Davidson

Conservative politician regarded as a safe pair of hands who became deputy chief whip in the House of Lords

Andrew Davidson, the 2nd Viscount Davidson, who has died aged 83, was an able and hard-working Conservative deputy chief whip in the House of Lords from 1986 until 1991. He did not, as had been expected, go on to become chief whip; and, in 1999, when rehe form of the Lords began, failed by only 15 votes to be included among the 92 hereditary peers elected to continue in the interim half-reformed upper house.

Davidson had a struggle to live up to the political reputations of his parents. JCC Davidson and his wife, Joan (known as Mimi), represented Hemel Hempstead as Conservative MPs successively over 40 years and were then elevated to the Lords, he as Viscount Davidson, she as Baroness Northchurch.

JCC Davidson had been a trusted intimate of two Tory prime ministers, Bonar Law and Stanley Baldwin, and, in 1927, at the age of 38, the youngest chairman of the Conservative party. Joan was the daughter of the Liberal MP and barrister Lord Dickinson. Baldwin, who had first introduced the young couple, would often drop in for breakfast at their home in Westminster when Andrew was a boy.

He followed his father to Westminster school and then to Pembroke College, Cambridge. There, his piano-playing skills helped make him a leading figure in the Footlights dramatic club and he became its president in 1951.

In 1960 he embarked on a 15-year career in large-scale farming, as a director of Strutt and Parker (Farms) and Lord Rayleigh Farms. By 1965 he was on the council of the Country Landowners Association (now the Country Land & Business Association). Then, in 1970, his father died, and he succeeded to the title. In his maiden speech in the Lords the following year, Davidson opposed metrication. He impressed Tory colleagues as orthodox, traditional and usually loyal, although he insisted, on occasion, on voting against Conservative measures on agriculture.

It was only in 1985 that he was first recruited as a Tory whip by the amiable chief whip, Lord Denham. The following year Denham recommended his promotion to deputy chief whip. Davidson continued to speak for various government departments with authority and without slip-ups, and when Denham decided in 1991 to retire, Davidson, one of only two names in the frame for the job, was regarded as a safe pair of hands. The other candidate was the more flamboyant motorcycle manufacturer, Lord Hesketh. Hesketh was chosen by John Major, and Davidson threw in his job.

In 1999, Davidson was upset not to become a member of the interim house, but not surprised: “I am getting on and maybe the younger generation should get a shot at it.”

He is survived by four daughters from his first marriage, to Margaret Norton, which ended in divorce. His second wife, Pamela, died in 2006.

• John Andrew Davidson, 2nd Viscount Davidson, businessman and politician, born 22 December 1928; died 20 July 2012

• Andrew Roth died in 2010 © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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