Bill Rammell

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Person.png Bill Rammell  Rdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
Bill Rammell.jpg
BornWilliam Ernest Rammell
10 October 1959
Member ofKönigswinter/Speakers

Bill Rammell is a British Labour Party politician, who was the Member of Parliament (MP) for Harlow, Essex from 1997 and was Minister of State in several departments from 2002 until his defeat in the 2010 General Election by the Conservative candidate, Robert Halfon.

In September 2004, Bill Rammell became the first, and only, British minister to have visited North Korea saying:

"I will express to the North Korean authorities the UK's deep concern at the Democratic People's Republic of Korea's nuclear programme and our full support for the six-party talks process," he said. "North Korea's nuclear programme is a matter of great concern for the entire international community. I will urge North Korea to remain committed to the agreed objectives of the talks process, namely the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula. I will also convey the UK's concern at the dreadful reports that we continue to hear about the human rights situation in the DPRK.
"I want to get beyond the automatic denials. I will urge the North Korean authorities to comply with the resolutions of the UN Commission on Human Rights."[1][2]

Personal life

Bill Rammell went to Burnt Mill Comprehensive School on First Avenue in Harlow. At the University of Wales, Cardiff he studied for a Bachelor of Arts degree in French, graduating in 1982. He was president of Cardiff University Students' Union from 1982 to 1983. He was a management trainee at British Rail from 1983 to 1984. From 1984 to 1987, he was a Regional Officer at the National Union of Students (NUS).

From 1987 to 1989 he was Head of Youth Services for Basildon Council. He was the General Manager of King's College London Students' Union from 1990-4, and worked as the Business Manager of the University of London Union from 1994 to 1997. He was a member of Harlow District Council from 1985 to 1997.

In August 2012, Bill Rammell took up his new role as Vice-Chancellor of the University of Bedfordshire.


Bill Rammell married Beryl Jarhall on 1 January 1983. They have a son (born September 1989) and a daughter (born November 1992).


Bill Rammell has held the following positions:

  • 2002 - Assistant Government Whip
  • 2002-2005 - Parliamentary under Secretary of State at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office
  • 2005-2008 - Minister of State for Higher Education
  • 2008-2009 - Minister of State at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office
  • 2009-2010 - Minister of State for the Armed Forces

In the 2005 election, he had the 3rd smallest majority of any Labour MP, at just 97 votes. The result was so close that the final declaration had to be delayed 2 days after voting, in order to give exhausted counting officials time to rest.

As Higher Education minister, Bill Rammell was strongly supportive of top-up fees claiming in 2005 that without such fees it would be necessary to put "3p or 4p on the standard rate of tax".[3] In the Times Higher Education Supplement, he provided a different estimate stating that to replace the income from top-up fees, estimated by the government to be £1.4 billion,[4] would necessitate a requirement "to put up income tax by 3%".[5] The amount raised by the UK in income tax in 2003-2004 was £120 billion.[6] In September 2007 he withdrew funding from some adult and continuing education in UK universities.

Rammell is a Pro-European, who is supportive of joining the Single European Currency, as verified by his time as Chair of Labour's Britain in Europe Group. He was the first British government minister to visit North Korea, in September 2004.

In February 2008, Bill Rammell announced plans[7] to create a "national" database of children's school records and exam results which will make up a publicly owned CV. The CV and "Learner Number" will stay with the child throughout adult life until retirement and only the British government will be able to remove records from their database entry. The plan will, however, only apply to English children as education is a devolved matter.

Rammell currently works for Plymouth University as Deputy Vice-Chancellor with responsibility for the student experience, and internationalisation.

In October 2009 following criticism in Sir Thomas Legg's audit of MPs' expenses, Rammell was ordered to repay £2,782 of wrongful claims.

On 13 April 2012, it was announced that Rammell was to become the new Vice Chancellor of the University of Bedfordshire, taking up his post in August 2012 for the start of the new academic year. Rammell replaced Professor Les Ebdon CBE DL, who retired from the VC post at Bedfordshire and took up a new position as Director of Fair Access to Higher Education at the Office for Fair Access (OFFA).

Releasing Megrahi

In September 2009, Bill Rammell confirmed he had told the Libyan government that the Gordon Brown did not want to see the man convicted for the Lockerbie bombing, Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, (who was serving a life sentence and had been diagnosed with prostate cancer) die in prison,[8] but made it clear that the decision about Megrahi's compassionate release was exclusively one for the Scottish Executive.[9]

Voting record

How Bill Rammell voted on key issues since 2001:[10]

  • Has never voted on a transparent Parliament.
  • Voted for introducing ID cards.
  • Voted for introducing foundation hospitals.
  • Voted for introducing student top-up fees.
  • Voted for Labour's anti-terrorism laws.
  • Voted for the Iraq war.
  • Voted against investigating the Iraq war.
  • Voted for replacing Trident.
  • Voted for the hunting ban.

External links

News items


Related Document

TitleTypePublication dateAuthor(s)Description
Document:There is no military solution in North KoreaInterview5 September 2017Mishal HusainFormer Foreign Office Minister Bill Rammell says the United States needs to bring the international community together more effectively over North Korea
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