THE MAN who was the Member of Parliament for Bromsgrove and Redditch between 1974 and 1983 – when the two towns were one constituency – has died at the age of 86.
Sir Hilary Duppa ‘Hal’ Miller, who was born on March 6 1929, served under four Prime Ministers – Harold Wilson, James Callaghan, Margaret Thatcher and John Major.
Sir Hal, who passed away on Saturday (March 21), married Fiona McDermid in 1956, who he had four children with.
He married Jacqueline Roe in 1976, who he had two children with.
After receiving a scholarship to attend Eton, Hal went on to win a place at Merton College, Oxford University to read ‘Greats’ (Classics). However, his immersion in rugby and cricket, rather than study, led his tutors to suggest a change of course by the end of his first year. Hal went on to attain an upper second in French and Russian – as well as election to the prestigious Vincents Club (the Oxford club for outstanding sportsmen).
During his political career, Sir Hal defended Bromsgrove and Redditch residents employed at MG Rover, a commitment he continued into his retirement, when he became Chief Executive of the UK motor industry’s trade association, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
Sir Hal was also vocal in protecting Bromsgrove’s greenbelt, highlighting the importance of ensuring the future of North Worcestershire’s distinction from the Midlands conurbation.
As well as his constituency role, Sir Hal was a Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Secretary of State for Defence from 1979 to 1981, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster in 1981, and vice chairman of the Conservative Party from 1984 to 1987.
Members of Bromsgrove Conservative Association affectionately recall his warm character and ability to make them laugh.
Following his career representing Worcestershire, Sir Hal retired to Malvern, where he was proud to become the Deputy Lieutenant of Worcestershire in 2000.
Outside of politics, he was a keen sportsman – he was a first team player for Blackheath Rugby Club and its president from 1999 to 2003.
On moving to Bromsgrove he became a member of Bromsgrove Rugby Football Club where he played, refereed and later became club’s vice president.
Into retirement from the game, he continued to immerse himself in good works for the club, and was a regular member of work parties until well into his 80s. Nationally, Hal was also a member of the Rugby Union Management Committee.
Bromsgrove RFC, in its tribute, said: “We are very sad to report Hal’s death after a short illness and at the great age of 86.
“We shall all remember with affection his wit and wise counsel – may he rest in peace.”
Current Bromsgrove MP Sajid Javid paid tribute to Sir Hal, saying: “I have been overwhelmed by the fond memories and great esteem in which colleagues in Parliament and Hal’s friends in Bromsgrove hold him.
“It is with gratitude that I reflect on Hal’s commitment to serving Bromsgrove and our country at home and abroad throughout his life.
“Hal was clearly loved and respected by many, for whom his passing away will be a great loss. My thoughts are with his wife Jacqueline and all of his children at this time.”
HAL Miller was the epitome of the ‘Caring Conservative’, writes Ross Crawford – the editor of our sister paper the Redditch Standard.
I remember how he helped me once in a small but important way.
Out of work after leaving school and on the dole, I had an opportunity to go on a trip for two weeks.
I told the labour exchange and accepted that for those two weeks I would be unable to receive my ‘giro’.
However on returning home and signing back on again, the weeks started to go past with no money coming through at all – leaving me stony broke.
I went to see my MP, Hal Miller, and he must have banged some heads together because within days I received a giro for the full outstanding amount and a fulsome apology from the office manager – who complained there really had been no need to go to the local MP.
However I think that without Hal I’d still be waiting for that cheque today.