Senior Labour backbencher Sir Stuart Bell has died after a short battle with pancreatic cancer, his family said.

The 74-year-old had been MP for Middlesbrough for nearly three decades, and served in key positions in Parliament.

Sir Stuart was the son of a Durham miner, and, after a grammar school education, was briefly a colliery clerk and newspaper reporter before becoming a barrister.

Having lived and worked in Paris for a spell, he returned in 1977 to pursue a career in politics.

He 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 the party's Northern Ireland spokesman during the 1980s.

And 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, who had been suffering pancreatic cancer, died at home with his family around him.