Tributes have been paid to the former Conservative MSP, MP and Scotland Office minister, Lord James Douglas-Hamilton, who has died at the age of 81.

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross described Lord James, of North Berwick, as a "an extremely distinguished politician at both Westminster and Holyrood."

He added: "He was a true gentleman whose popularity crossed all political divides. His career in local government, Holyrood and Westminster was distinguished by the courtesy and respect he showed to everyone.  

“In 1999, the newly-created Scottish Parliament benefited from the wisdom and gravitas Lord James brought to proceedings, and which was honed during his 23 years as a highly-effective MP and latterly government minister.

“I had the pleasure of meeting him when we were both in Westminster and his passion and interest in Scottish politics never waned. He will be sadly missed by all who were fortunate enough to know him.”

READ MORE: Lord James Douglas Hamilton’s fascinating memoirs 

Michael Russell, SNP president, described the peer as a "kind and considerate man who gave his life to public service."

He added: "I had the privilege to serve alongside Lord James on the first bureau of the Scottish Parliament.

"His originality was memorable and I was lucky to travel abroad with him on delegations on two occasions when I greatly enjoyed his company at formal and informal occasions. 

"His speech in the Act of Settlement in the first year of the Parliament is still regarded as one of the best ever delivered at Holyrood and that ability to express important things clearly, his devotion to serving his constituents, his previous Parliamentary and Ministerial career at Westminster and his later service as a dedicated working member of the House of Lords are all hallmarks of his huge contribution to public life in Scotland which should be long celebrated and remembered.

"He will be much missed across the parties, a rare thing which speaks volumes about his unique blend of charm, wit and political ability.”



Taking to X, the site formerly known as Twitter, former Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson said:"As well as unstinting service to politics, public service and our party, Lord James added a heap of personality too. Kind, witty and a gentleman.

"A wise head, he was hugely supportive to generations of young Turks coming up through the ranks. The stories will be told fondly."

Former deputy first minister  John Swinney described the peer as "a kind and considerate man who served his country with distinction."

"He was MP for Edinburgh West as I grew up and he always asked after my parents when we got to know each other later in life. My sympathy to his family," he added.

Lord Douglas-Hamilton was first elected to Parliament at the October 1974 election, holding the Edinburgh West seat until the 1997 Labour landslide. 

During his time in the Commons, he served in the Scottish Office, under both Margaret Thatcher and John Major.

He served as a list MSP for Lothian from 1999 to 2007 and then sat in the Lords until earlier this year.

News of his death was announced by the Lord Speaker on Wednesday afternoon.

Christine Jardine, the current MP for Edinburgh West, tweeted: "So sad to hear of the passing of Lord James Douglas Hamilton, former MP for Edinburgh West. I met him often in my career and he was always such a gentleman, with a kind word and genuine concern for those he served."

Tory MSP Jamie Halcro Johnston added: "Very sad to hear of Lord James’ passing. I’ve fond memories of chats over drinks in Deacon Brodies, a wonderful Trafalgar Night Dinner address he gave about two of his ancestors’ relationships with Horatio Nelson, and his event in Holyrood with Ronnie Corbett. A very kind man."

Jackson Carlaw called him a "wonderful man."

"Page Boy at Queen Elizabeth II’s Coronation, stories of Khrushchev staying as a house guest, author of both a compelling book on the Hess misadventure to meet his father and a hugely entertaining autobiog 'After You Prime Minister'. So generous & liked by so many."