|Member of Parliament
Falkirk West (2000–2005)
21 December 2000
|Preceded by||Dennis Canavan|
|Born||Eric Stuart Joyce
13 October 1960
Perth, Perthshire, Scotland
|Labour Party (1999–2012)|
|Spouse(s)||Rosemary Joyce (Separated)
Christina Guest (Divorced)
|Alma mater||University of Stirling|
Joyce served as a private in the Black Watch before attending University and subsequently receiving a commission in the Royal Army Educational Corps. He left the army in 1999 at the rank of major and served as the Public Affairs Officer at the Commission for Racial Equality (Scotland).
He was elected to Parliament in the 2000 Falkirk West by-election as a member of the Labour Party, retaining his seat in the 2001 general election, and elected to the enlarged Falkirk constituency in the 2005 general election. From 2003, Joyce served as a Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) to a number of UK government ministers. He resigned as the PPS to Bob Ainsworth on 3 September 2009 citing concerns over the war in Afghanistan.
Joyce was suspended from the Labour Party in 2012 after he was arrested on suspicion of assault, and on 12 March 2012, having pleaded guilty, resigned from the party. In March 2013 he was once again arrested on suspicion of assault, but not prosecuted. Both incidents took place in a House of Commons bar and were related to alcohol. The selection of a replacement candidate has caused the 2013 Labour Party Falkirk candidate selection row, an internal NEC report into which has now been referred to the Scottish Police Service.
Early life and education
Joyce lived in Perth with his family for most of his childhood and adolescence.
Joyce joined the Army in 1978, initially as a private in the Black Watch before taking a sabbatical between 1981 and 1987 to attend technical college and university where he gained a BA (Hons) in religious studies from University of Stirling. As a university candidate Joyce was made a probationary second lieutenant on 25 August 1987. In 1987 he attended the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst before being commissioned into the Royal Army Educational Corps (later Adjutant General's Corps) as a subaltern with seniority to 7 October 1981. After receiving his commission he continued his studies part-time and acquired an MA in Education from the University of Bath and an MBA from Keele University. During his time in the army he served in Great Britain, Northern Ireland, Germany and Central America. He was promoted to captain on 25 January 1990 and to major in 1992. He left the army, by resigning his commission on 12 March 1999, amid controversy after describing the armed forces as "racist, sexist and discriminatory," before going on to serve as the Public Affairs Officer at the Commission for Racial Equality (Scotland).
He was first elected to parliament in the 2000 Falkirk West by-election, which was prompted by the resignation of Dennis Canavan. On election he served as a member of the Scottish Affairs and the Procedures Select Committees at Westminster. Joyce retained his seat in the 2001 general election, and was elected to the enlarged Falkirk constituency in the 2005 general election. At each general election, Joyce has increased his majority, although his percentage share of the public vote fell at the 2005 election.
From 2003 Joyce served as a Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) to a number of British Government ministers. He resigned as the Parliamentary Aide to Bob Ainsworth on 3 September 2009 citing concerns over the war in Afghanistan. He had previously been PPS to John Hutton during three of Hutton's cabinet posts: when he was the Secretary of State for Defence; Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform and Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. Prior to that, Joyce served as the parliamentary aide to ministers Mike O'Brien MP, when O'Brien was the Minister for Energy at the Department of Trade and Industry and Margaret Hodge MP, Minister for Industry and the Regions at the Department of Trade and Industry.
Joyce has persuaded the Treasury to change the child benefit regulations to remove a discrepancy that disadvantaged young Scottish FE students relative to their peers in the rest of the UK. In April 2008 Joyce became the first European parliamentarian to be granted an opportunity to address the newly formed Parliament of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, when he visited the DRC as the chair of the all-party parliamentary group on the Great Lakes Region of Africa with other members of the group. In September 2008, Joyce was criticised by local government councillors for describing the name of the new Clackmannanshire Bridge as "unimaginative" and "parochial". The naming of the bridge was reported as a contentious matter.
He is also the author of a Fabian pamphlet titled Arms and the Man: renewing the armed services, edited Now's the Hour!: new thinking for Holyrood and has served as Chair of the National Executive of the Fabian Society.
Joyce most often puts his questions in the House of Commons chamber to the Scotland Office, Department for International Development, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Northern Ireland Office, and Ministry of Defence. While a Parliamentary Private Secretary Joyce was expected to vote with the Government, but even when not, he has not broken the Labour whip in Parliament. Joyce is not currently a member of any Parliamentary Select Committees but has been a member of several public bill committees.
Joyce, along with fellow MPs Tom Harris and Jo Swinson, regularly uses the social networking tool Twitter during Parliamentary business including the Prime Minister's Questions to encourage constituents to feel involved with parliamentary proceedings. Despite such activities being permitted under parliamentary rules, the MPs in question have received criticism from some sections of the media for what is perceived to be a lack of participation in the parliamentary proceedings while they are using the social networking tools. Joyce is an advocate of new media in politics. He regularly blogs on current issues concerning House of Commons and the Government. He regularly communicates with the public on Twitter and his blog.
Joyce was the top-claiming Member of the House of Commons for the 2005–06 Parliamentary session, claiming £174,811 in expenses, of which 62% was for staff and office costs. After the 2005–06 Parliamentary session he made a public pledge to cut his expenses; during the 2006–07 session he moved down to 11th on the list of MPs' expenses and allowances, but again rose to the top for 2007–08 with £187,334.
Joyce was the first MP to claim more than £1 million cumulatively in expenses. In October 2007 he claimed £180 for three oil paintings. When asked why he had used taxpayers' funds in such a way he replied "because they look nice." In May 2009, tabloids reported Joyce was seeking advice from HM Revenue and Customs regarding £40,000 in unpaid capital gains tax on the sale of his London home, which he had designated as his second home under the Second Homes Allowance scheme. The house had been sold for a £133,000 profit. When asked what he would do were he asked to pay the overdue tax, Joyce stated he would "suck it and see."
In 2012 Joyce waged an internet campaign against the Scots Gaelic language. Using his Twitter account, he derided the language as being "an old, unadaptive language with relatively few words for things" and Gaelic poetry as "basically doggerel" and "and mainly a bit of rubbish". He was criticised for his views by the Scottish Government.
The Daily Record on 1 March 2012 reported that Joyce had had a relationship with a seventeen-year-old schoolgirl who had worked for his 2010 general election campaign. The MP, a father of two, had separated from his second wife before the May 2010 election. Of the alleged affair Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont said: "This is a man who has abused his position of power and authority. I’m disgusted: regardless of any other issues, I think this makes Eric Joyce unfit to stand for the Labour Party." In response Joyce said he would step down at the next general election.
On 18 November 2010 Joyce was arrested for failing to provide a breath test following a motoring incident in Falkirk. He pleaded guilty in court the following day and was fined £400 and banned from driving for a year. Joyce resigned from his position as Shadow Northern Ireland Minister and apologised for his behaviour.
Assaults in the Houses of Parliament
Joyce was arrested at 22:50 on 22 February 2012 in the Palace of Westminster by the Metropolitan Police on suspicion of committing assault. He was described as having gone "berserk", hitting "at least three MPs, including a Labour whip". He headbutted and punched the Conservative MP, Stuart Andrew, after hitting Labour Assistant Whip, Phil Wilson, while Wilson was attempting to restrain him. He also assaulted Basildon Conservative Councillor, Luke Mackenzie, and Thurrock Conservative Councillor, Ben Maney, both of whom were attempting to break up the incident. Two Conservative MPs, Alec Shelbrooke and Jackie Doyle-Price, were also caught up in the fracas whilst attempting to intervene and calm Joyce down. A door window was smashed as Joyce attempted to resist arrest before being removed by police and taken to Belgravia police station. The disturbance occurred at the Strangers' Bar (reserved for MPs and their guests).
Suspended the following day from the Labour party after his arrest, on 23 February he was charged with three counts of common assault and released on police bail. A fourth charge was added on 9 March. Fined £3,000 and ordered to pay £1,400 in compensation to his victims, he avoided a custodial sentence. He later stated that he intended to complete his current term as an MP. In a statement before the House of Commons on 12 March 2012, he apologised personally to his victims, stated that he had resigned from the Labour Party, and that he intended to complete his current term as an MP but not seek re-election.
In August 2012, Joyce was back in Court after using scissors on 4 July 2012 to remove the electronic tag that was attached to his leg as part of his punishment. The tag had been attached as part of the community order. He was fined £600.
A year later, on 14 March 2013, Joyce was again arrested following reports of an altercation in the sports and social bar of the House of Commons. In light of it being his second alcohol related incident on House of Commons premises, the following day Joyce was given an indefinite ban by the Office of the Speaker from purchasing and being served alcoholic beverages from all Palace of Westminster premises, including its eight bars. Joyce was released under police bail from Belgravia police station the same day, when it was revealed that he was also facing a charge of Actual Bodily Harm. Prosecutors ultimately took no action against him.
On 19 May 2013 Joyce was involved in a disagreement with airline staff and police at Edinburgh airport regarding a mislaid mobile phone. There were conflicting reports about the incident. On 21 March 2014 he pleaded guilty to a charge of breach of the peace at Edinburgh Sheriff Court and was fined £1,500 with £150 compensation.
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- The Guardian newspaper: Eric Joyce charged with breach of the peace at Edinburgh airport, 22 May 2013
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- Eric Joyce on Twitter
- Eric Joyce MP on Ask Aristotle from The Guardian
- Falkirk survey Survey carried out by Eric Joyce that covered 1/5 of the households in his constituency
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
|Member of Parliament for Falkirk West
|New constituency||Member of Parliament for Falkirk