James was a politician who commanded affection and respect from colleagues, no matter which party they represented. In a parliamentary career spanning 16 years, James’s contribution to public life was immense. He served in successive Governments in ministerial roles across the Home Office, as well as serving as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and later as Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government. His commitment to serving his constituents in Old Bexley and Sidcup was also obvious to anybody who knew him.
I will always remember James for his positivity, for his good sense of humour and for being one of the most friendly, thoughtful and well-liked people in the House of Commons. [Hon. Members: “Hear, hear.”] His passing is a profound loss to us all. Our thoughts go out to his wife Cathy and their three children, who are here today to watch our tributes; I just want to remind people that the family are with us. It is great that they have turned up today—thank you.
We will now take points of order. The Prime Minister will start the tributes.