A SCOTTISH Labour peer heralded as an “important backroom architect of devolution” has died aged 73 after collapsing just outside the House of Lords chamber.

Lord Murray Elder, a childhood friend of Gordon Brown, served as general secretary of the Scottish Labour Party, chief of staff to former opposition leader John Smith and special adviser to Donald Dewar, the former Secretary of State for Scotland. He was made a life peer on July 19, 1999.

Elder was one of the world’s longest living heart transplant patients, having received his in 1988, and has been praised for his personal courage and achievements “against the odds”.

On Tuesday evening, paramedics were called to the Prince’s Chamber, an anteroom next to where peers debate, and Elder was treated on the scene before being taken to hospital, where he later died.

A House of Lords spokesperson said: “Lord Elder collapsed in the Palace of Westminster yesterday evening. He was immediately attended to by first aiders and an ambulance was called.

“A number of staff from the House Service and London Ambulance Service treated Lord Elder at the scene before taking him to hospital, where he sadly later died.

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“We offer our deepest sympathies to Lord Elder’s family and friends at this difficult time.”

The Lord Speaker told members of the House of Lords on Wednesday: “I regret to inform the House of the death of the noble lord, Lord Elder on October 24.

“I’m sure the whole House will wish to join me in paying tribute to and thanking the staff and members of the House and the London Ambulance Service, who provided immediate assistance to Lord Elder when he became unwell yesterday evening, ensuring that he could be transferred to hospital, where he sadly later died.

“On behalf of the House, I extend our condolences to the noble lord’s family and friends.”

Tributes have come flooding in from senior figures in Labour.

Former Prime Minister Brown tweeted: “Mourning the death last night of my Kirkcaldy schoolfriend (Lord) Murray Elder, former chief of staff to John Smith and Donald Dewar.

“One of the world’s longest surviving heart transplant patients, his life was a study in personal courage and great achievements against many odds.”

Another former Prime Minister, Sir Tony Blair, said: “I am so sorry to hear the news about Murray Elder.

“Murray was one of the most important back room architects of devolution in Scotland and a hugely respected Labour Party official serving the Scottish Labour Party, then John Smith and then Donald Dewar.

“He was someone who was deeply trusted by all who worked with him, admired for his judgement and his integrity.

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“He only ever wanted the best for his party and country. He will be sorely missed and greatly mourned.”

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said: “Murray Elder was an integral part of the Labour Party, he was Scottish Labour to his core.

“His lifelong friendship, from nursery school onwards, with Gordon Brown led him to have a long and lasting impact working closely with every Labour Prime Minister of the modern age.

“His work with John Smith in particular, helped set Labour on the road to government.

“Always the consummate professional, he became a more public figure in later life and was a valued and respected member of the Labour Group in the House of Lords. He will be much missed by his family and friends.”