TRIBUTES have been paid to Sir Donald Thompson, former Tory MP for Calder Valley.

He was an MP for 18 years from 1979 and was a minister in the Thatcher Government.

Sir Donald, who was 73, had been ill for some months and died at Leeds General Infirmary.

He had heart bypass surgery 13 years ago.

Sir Donald retired from political life after losing his seat at the 1997 General Election to Labour's Chris McCafferty.

She said today: "Sir Donald was always the most courteous and warm opponent.

"He gave me my first piece of political advice when I was his opponent in the 1997 General Election.

"He told me: `Never make personal attacks on your opponent or do any kind of negative campaigning. Calder Valley people don't like it and it won't do you any good.'

"It was good advice and indicative of his generous nature."

Sir Donald lived at Lightcliffe with his wife, Patricia.

He was born in Harrogate in 1931 and was a farmer and a butcher. He later became as a glass manufacturer.

Sir Donald entered Parliament as MP for the old Sowerby constituency. He was elected to the newly-created Calder Valley seat four years later.

He was appointed to the Government front bench as a whip in 1981.

Later, he became a junior agriculture minister for three years.

It was a major shock when he lost his Calder Valley seat to Ms McCafferty.

She said: "His political obituary was written prematurely on a number of occasions.

"But he proved to be a great survivor, reflecting his loyalty to the people and the area."

Before entering Parliament Sir Donald served on the old West Riding and West Yorkshire county councils and on Calderdale Council.