One of Scotland's most enduring and straight-talking political figures, Lord Hughes of Hawkhill, has died at his home in Comrie, Perthshire, at the age of 88.

Rising from humble beginnings in Dundee's west end, Lord Hughes enjoyed spells as the city's Lord Provost, a successful businessman, and a Scottish Office minister.

Lord Hughes also played a key role in persuading the government to proceed with the Tay Road Bridge, at the time the longest road bridge in Europe.

He was made a life peer in 1961 after a distinguished record of public service covering the town council, hospital services, and education and took as part of his title the name of the area in which he grew up.

Before being made a life peer, Lord Hughes received the OBE in 1942 and the CBE in 1956.

His political career spanned 43 years in which time he was Lord Provost, Joint Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Scotland, Minister for State, and spokesman for the Scottish Office in the house of Lords.

Born William Hughes in Isles' Lane, Dundee, Lord Hughes was educated at Balfour Street Public School and then Dundee Technical College before going on to become a building contractor and company director.

He was only 22 on entering local government as a socialist councillor in 1933 and continued to serve on the authority until 1961.

He served as Lord Provost of Dundee from 1954 to 1960 and was a Justice of the Peace from 1943 to 1976.

During the second world war he served in civil defence as controller for Dundee until 1943 and then in the armed forces. He was commissioned in 1944 in the Royal Army Ordnance Corps and saw service in India, Borneo, and Burma, gaining the rank of captain before demobilisation.

He had two unsuccessful attempts to become an MP, in 1945 and 1950 as a socialist candidate for East Perthshire.

In 1964, three years after his peerage, Lord Hughes made it into government as Joint Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Scotland, serving in that post until 1969, when he became Minister of State at the Scottish Office until 1970.

He served as Minister of State for Scotland again from 1974 to 1975, with responsibility for the Scottish Development Department and responsibility within the Scottish Office for all matters relating to the EEC. He was also spokesman for the Scottish Office in the House of Lords.

A keen interest in all matters European led to him being a member of the Council of Europe and the Western European Union from 1976 to 1987.

His background in business made him the ideal candidate for the role of first chairman of the Tay Bridge Joint Committee and he played a pivotal role in moves which led to eventual government approval of the bridge.

Councillor Ian Borthwick, the current longest-serving councillor in Dundee, said of Lord Hughes, ''He was of high intellect and one of the most straight-talking politicians you could ever hope to meet.

''He was a man of considerable stature and as Lord Provost he did a lot of good in Dundee as he held the city in such high regard, just as the city will always hold him in high regard.''

He and his wife Christian were married in 1951. Lady Hughes died just over five years ago.

Lord Hughes is survived by daughters Alison and Janet and four grandchildren.