A typical product of the strong links between Methodism and the Labour Party, he was born on 12 January 1915. He was a schoolmaster 1937-1952, a headmaster 1952-1964, and chairman of the Sunderland Education Committee 1960-1965. He was MP for North West Durham 1964-1987 and held posts at the Treasury (1969-1970), the Department of Education and Science (1974-1975) and the Department of the Environment (1975-1979). He was Deputy Speaker from 1981 to 1987. A local preacher to whom preaching was a vital part of life, he was Vice- President of the 1974 Conference. He wrote, mostly on social issues. From 1982 he was President of the Northern Football League. He died at Bishop Auckland on 8 July 1996. He was succeeded in his Parliamentary seat by his daughter Hilary Armstrong (b.1945), who increased her father's majority and has held ministerial posts in the Blair government.