Senior Labour backbencher and former Newcastle city councillor Sir Stuart Bell has died after a short battle with pancreatic cancer.
The 74-year-old had been MP for Middlesbrough for nearly 30 years.
Labour Leader Ed Miliband MP said his death was a 'huge blow' and Prime Minister David Cameron said he was 'one of Parliament's great characters'.
The son of a Durham miner, Sir Stuart unsuccessfully contested Hexham in 1979 and was a member of Newcastle City Council until he won Middlesbrough in 1983.
He went on to hold the seat through seven general elections.
While never serving as a minister, Sir Stuart was Labour's Northern Ireland spokesman during the 1980s.
Later in his career he was handed a powerful role on the Commons Commission, the body responsible for running the House.
He played a central role during one of Parliament's most difficult periods, as the long-running scandal of MPs' expenses abuses finally emerged in 2009.
Sir Stuart was criticised in 2011 after the Teesside Evening Gazette tried to call him more than 100 times and said the phone was never picked up.
He was forced to defend his actions, which he called a "misinterpretation", to Labour leader Ed Miliband.
Mr Bell, who was married and had three children, was knighted in 2004 for services to Parliament and was awarded the Legion d'Honneur in 2006 for his contributions to Anglo-French relations.
Mr Miliband said: "He spent the long years of opposition fighting for the Labour Party to regain power and championed, throughout his life, the many causes that were close to his heart.
"He served the House of Commons and the Church of England as the Church Commissioner, a position he held for thirteen years and was a passionate campaigner on European issues.
"The son of a North East miner, Stuart was fiercely proud to represent Middlesbrough.
"Stuart was a dedicated family man and had a formidable partnership with his wife Margaret. All our thoughts are with her and his children."
Mr Cameron said: "Throughout his three decades in the House of Commons, he always stood up for those issues he cared most deeply about.
"A firm advocate of church matters as Second Church Estates Commissioner for 13 years, and a member of the House of Commons Commission over a very challenging decade, he will be remembered for his kindness and his courtesy towards Parliamentary colleagues.
"My thoughts go out to Stuart's wife, Margaret, and his family at this very sad time."
Fellow Labour politicians also paid tribute to Sir Stuart on Twitter.
Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper wrote: "Very sad news about Sir Stuart Bell MP. He was always so kind and thoughtful. We will miss him. Thoughts with his family & friends."
Shadow Culture Secretary Harriet Harman tweeted: "So sad that Stuart Bell has died. Played a big role over many years on House of Commons Commission. Will be greatly missed."
And Shadow International Development Secretary Ivan Lewis MP wrote: "Stuart Bell was a decent, supportive colleague who always encouraged less experienced MPs. He will be missed across the political divide."
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