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Obituary Peter Hardy (Lord Hardy of Wath)

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19 December 2003 - The Telegraph

Lord Hardy of Wath, the former Labour MP for Wentworth Peter Hardy, who died on Tuesday aged 72, was a keen campaigner for the preservation of wildlife and natural habitats.

He entered Parliament in 1970 as MP for Rother Valley, South Yorkshire, which he represented until 1983, when the seat was split in two and he became MP for Wentworth. He served there until his retirement in 1997.

Hardy's commitment to wildlife and the natural environment was informed by encyclopaedic knowledge. As sponsor of the Badger Act (1973) he researched his subject by making frequent nocturnal visits to badger setts in his constituency. He even wrote a book, A Lifetime of Badgers (1975), an engaging account of the private life and eccentricities of these elusive animals.

As sponsor of the 1975 Wild Creatures and Wild Plants Act, Hardy spoke knowledgably about such diverse species as the dormouse, the mouse-eared bat, the military orchid and Teesdale sandwort.

In 1987, during an all night debate on the Felixstowe Docks Bill, he gave impressions of the songs of bird species supposedly threatened by the docks' proposed expansion.

During the passage of the 1981 Wildlife and Countryside Act, Hardy was one of the few members of the standing committee who could talk with authority on the bar-tailed godwit and the precise importance of particular wildlife habitats. He helped to win a number of concessions from ministers, adding many animals to the schedules of protected species.

He also sponsored the Protection of Birds (Amendment) Act (1976), and campaigned for years to give statutory protection to hedgerows. He was a bitter critic of the fur industry, observing that fur "looked better on the back of an animal than on the back of a fine lady".


Hardy was a decent, amiable man, with no pretensions to high office, though he served as parliamentary private secretary to Tony Crosland (1974-77) and David Owen (1977-79). Not particularly clubbable (he was almost teetotal), he was none the less a very popular local MP.


Outside Parliament, Hardy served for several years on the council of the RSPB and on the central executive of the NSPCC. He bred and showed deerhounds and Irish wolfhounds, served as a judge at dog shows, and advised the Kennel Club on policy issues such as tail-docking and dog licensing.


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