David Cameron paid tribute tonight to former Tory minister John Maples, who has died of cancer at the age of 69.
The Prime Minister said the former deputy chairman of the Conservative Party played a key role in his mission to modernise the Tories and find new talent to stand for election.
Lord Maples, a former deputy chairman of the Conservative Party, was economic secretary to the Treasury from 1990 to 1992.
He served as MP for Lewisham West from 1983 to 1992, and then for Stratford-on-Avon from 1997 to 2010 when the Tories were in opposition.
He became a peer after standing down at the last general election.
Mr Cameron said: "A loyal and determined Conservative, John played a key role as my deputy chairman for candidates prior to the last election.
"He recognised the need to change and modernise our Party from an early time and, under his leadership, we selected - in some innovative ways - an unprecedented number of new and talented Parliamentary candidates, with nearly 150 elected to the House of Commons two years ago.
"These Members represent the future of our Party - ensuring that, through their work, John's legacy will live on for many years to come.
"He will be hugely missed by his many friends and colleagues from both within the Conservative Party and from across the political divide. He was widely respected, and a mentor to many of those he helped realise their own ambition of public service."
Mr Cameron said Lord Maples had fought cancer with "typical courage and dignity", adding: "The end came all too soon, but at least his suffering is now over. His passing is a loss to the Conservative Party and to politics more generally."
Foreign Secretary William Hague said: "I am deeply saddened to hear of John's untimely death. He will be greatly missed by all his colleagues.
"As someone who worked closely with John I will remember him as a man of great integrity, kindness, humour and quiet distinction."
Conservative Party co-chairman Baroness Warsi said she and colleagues were "devastated" to hear of his death.
"As deputy chairman with responsibility for candidate selection, he was instrumental in bringing about a historic increase in the number of women and minority MPs on the Conservative benches," she said.
"It was a pleasure to work with him at party headquarters and I will remember him most for his dedication, his drive and his sense of fun.
"Our thoughts are with his wife, Jane, and their children."
Lord Maples' death on Saturday was announced to peers today by Lord Speaker Baroness D'Souza.