I last saw Gwyneth in the Members Tea Room the day before the House broke up for the Easter Recess on April 2nd. She didn't look her 77 years, and was her normal cheerful self. There was no trace of whatever illness has sadly claimed her.
She was one of a number of courageous Labour MP's on the Liaison Commitee who were prepared to take their gloves off when the Prime Minister came before us. Without the Gwyneths, the Liaison Committee risks becoming polarised on these occasions, if Opposition MP's attack the MP and Labour ask him helpful questions. If Gwyneth thought the Government had got something wrong, she would say so - and her words were not shrouded in diplomacy. Independent-minded MP's like Gwyneth resonate with the public, whoa dmire people who say what they think.
I worked closely with Gwyneth in 2001. After the General Election in that year, the Labour Whips tried to take Gwyneth off the Transport Select Commitee, which she chaired with flair, producing a number of reports that the Government found inconvenient. Gwyneth got wind of what was going on and put me in the picture.
At a meeting of the Committee of Selection, which I was on, the Whips produced the names for the Transport Select Committee and Gwyneth's was not one of them. I tried to put her back on, but was voted down in the Committee. But when the resolution went to the floor of the House, the Whips lost and she was re-instated.
This led to Robin Cook proposing a different way of appointing Select Committees in the future - but the Whips got their own back and his proposals were narrowly defeated.
Gwyneth took a particular interest in Transport matters, but also spoke on House of Commons reform. She wanted the House to be more independent of the Executive and to claim back the powers it had surrendered to the Government. We will miss her support in that battle.