It was with great sadness that I learnt this week of the death of Lord Jenkin of Roding, a long term friend on the nuclear industry. I first met Patrick within a few months of starting to work at the Nuclear Industry Association in 2003. I was immediately struck by the deep knowledge of the nuclear industry that he possessed, unusual in politicians who need a broad overview of policy which often prevents them from having deeper insight. But I was also struck by what good company he was certainly by-passing my prejudices about what one of Margret Thatcher’s cabinet minsters would be like. In fact, I would say that in more than 20 years in public affairs he was one of the nicest people in politics it’s ever been my pleasure to know.
Patrick had a long career in politics, first entering the House of Commons to succeed Sir Winston Churchill and serving in both Ted Heath and Margret Thatcher’s cabinets. It was under Heath that he was Energy Minister, at a difficult time during the three-day week. While he had that experience with the energy sector at ministerial level it is perhaps after he entered the Lords as Lord Jenkin of Roding that he made his greatest contribution to the sector, regularly holding Parliamentary debates on energy issues but focussing mostly on the nuclear sector.
While a strong supporter of the nuclear industry he was not uncritical. But critical friends are key to helping you stay focussed and he certainly was that. If you ever had policy suggestions for him they would never by blindly accepted. He always wanted to question closely to understand motives and intent and to achieve the best outcome for the country. In that way he helped to refine the industry’s positions to achieve better outcomes.
Patrick retired from the House of Lords in 2014, the first member to do so. In his last contribution he said, “I have done what I can offer”. He certainly offered a lot and I for one will miss him as will many in the energy industry.