Lord Mackay ‘sustained by prayer’ during distinguished legal and political career

Lord Mackay of Clashfern testified to the sustaining power of prayer as he spoke about his retirement from the House of Lords on Wednesday.

Rising to address the House for the final time, Lord Mackay reflected on his 43 years of service as a Peer, Lord Advocate, and as Lord Chancellor under two Prime Ministers.

In his valedictory speech, Lord Mackay gave ‘humble thanks to Almighty God’ for mercies received, and expressed his gratitude to all the staff of the House of Lords.

Prayer and thanks

His final words to the chamber conveyed something of the vital importance of his sincere Christian faith to his remarkable parliamentary career.

Referring to the practice of starting each sitting of the House with prayers, the 95-year-old Peer concluded: “I believe that I have been sustained until now by answers to what we pray for at our opening every day.”

Prevent [go before] us, O Lord, in all our doings, with thy most gracious favour, and further us with thy continual help, that in all our works begun, continued, and ended in thee, we may glorify thy Holy Name, and finally by thy mercy obtain everlasting Life, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.One of the official prayers used in the House of Lords

His words were greeted with sustained applause.


Fellow Peers paid tribute to Lord Mackay’s legal acumen, political wisdom and personal character.

Liberal Democrat Peer Lord Shipley thanked Lord Mackay for his “forensic thinking and analysis, and the sound advice that he has given to this House over so many years”.

Fellow Conservative Lord Tunnicliffe bore witness to his “wisdom that melds both logic and personal values”, and Labour’s Lord Hacking spoke of his “characteristic kindness”.

Legal writer Joshua Rozenberg QC, reporting on Lord Mackay’s farewell, observed: “we shall not see his like again”.

we are in danger of putting religion in a box only to be brought out on ceremonial occasions. Religion, certainly the Christian faith, is much more than that Lord Mackay of Clashfern in 2011

‘Godly character’

The Institute’s Deputy Director for Public Affairs, Simon Calvert, said Lord Mackay’s “godly character has earned him the respect and affection of Peers across the House of Lords, regardless of their political persuasion”.

“It has been our privilege over the last three decades and more not only to see him in action from close quarters, during our many campaigns in the Lords, but also to work with him.

“He has a towering intellect and great energy. But he is always gentle, willing to hear opinions, and willing to think matters over carefully.”

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