Politician and clan chief;

Born: July 19, 1937; Died: May 10, 2013.

The 14th Lord Reay, who has died aged 75, was a British politician who served in both the European Parliament and the House of Lords. As one of 92 elected hereditary peers to survive Tony Blair's Parliamentary reforms in 1999, his death will now require a rare by-election to appoint his successor within the upper house.

As the hereditary Clan Chief of Clan Mackay, Lord Reay was also one of only two Lords of Parliament – the Scottish equivalent to the English rank of baron – to sit in the House of Lords this century. His other titles included the Baronet of Farm, a Nova Scotia title originally bestowed on an ancestor by James VI, and the barony of Ophemert and Zennewijnen, created in 1822 by King William I of the Netherlands. With this latter title came the picturesque 16th-century manor house, Ophemert Castle, which is still held by the family.

Hugh William MacKay was the only son of Aeneas Alexander Mackay, the 13th Lord Reay, and his wife Charlotte (née Younger). Educated at Eton College and Christ Church, Oxford (where his sharp dress sense was first noted), the then Master of Reay was living in Holland when his father died in 1963, passing on his titles and role as a representative Scottish peer.

Although described by one society columnist as "foppish", Lord Reay's penchant for striking outfits distracted from a political career that was a serious one if not notably in the public eye. Entering the House of Lords initially as a cross-bencher, he soon played a prominent role in the abolition of capital punishment in 1965, joining the Liberals soon afterwards. However, despairing of that party's standing as a genuinely "national" party, he returned to the cross-benches in 1971 before joining the Conservatives the following year. This particular political journey may have been helped in part by the fact that his sister Elizabeth was the then wife of the equally unconventionally-dressed, peacockish parliamentarian Sir Nicholas Fairbairn.

On the UK's entry to the Common Market at the start of 1973, Lord Reay was one of eight peers nominated to serve in the European Parliament, taking on the role of vice-chairman of the Conservative group and soon clashing with the then Commission president Fracois-Xavier Ortoli over the uniquely itinerant siting of the assembly in Brussels, Strasbourg and Luxembourg. After the European Parliament's first public election in 1979, Lord Reay was then nominated to the Council of Europe, in which he served until 1986.

During this time, however, his increasingly hawkish attitude on defence issues within the House of Lords attracted the attention of Margaret Thatcher, who appointed him as a junior whip in the Lords in 1989. Two years later, her successor as Prime Minister, John Major appointed him a Parliamentary Under Secretary of State to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). However, Lord Reay chose to leave the Government in less than a year; following the 1992 General Election, he opted instead to join the Select Committee on the European Communities, in which he served until 1999, also chairing its food and agriculture subcommittee.

Lord Reay's time in government was not without controversy; campaigners against Chinese rule in Tibet were upset by his emphasis on Britain's recognition of the Dalai Lama as a spiritual – rather than political – leader. On behalf of the Department of the Environment he also had to oppose pressure for the phasing out of CFC gases.

While one of his earliest announcements at the DTI was a package of grants for recycling, his support of environmental causes was mixed; many of his written questions to Government during the last few years were on issues related to renewable energy, wind turbines and nuclear power. As recently as May 2012, he sponsored legislation to define minimum distances between wind turbines and residential premises. During one debate on the issue, he dismissed wind power as a pointless gesture towards an economically crippling green ideology.

During his post-government career within the Lords he also proved to be strongly against further EU integration and the extension of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual (LGBT) rights, such as the repeal of Section 28 and allowing LGBT couples to adopt.

Lord Reay is survived by his first wife Annabel Therese Fraser (now Tessa Keswick), with whom he had a daughter and two sons – the elder of whom, Aeneas Simon Mackay, succeeds to his titles. The couple divorced in 1978. He is also survived by his widow, Victoria Warrender, daughter of the 1st Lord Bruntisfield, and their two daughters.