Jim Dobbin

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For other people named James Dobbin, see James Dobbin (disambiguation).
Jim Dobbin
Member of Parliament
for Heywood and Middleton
Assumed office
1 May 1997
Preceded by James Callaghan
Majority 5,971 (12.9%)
Personal details
Born (1941-05-26) 26 May 1941 (age 73)
Kincardine on Forth, Fife, Scotland
Nationality Scottish
Political party Labour Co-operative
Spouse(s) Patricia Russell[1]
Alma mater Napier University
Religion Roman Catholicism

James "Jim" Dobbin (born 26 May 1941) is a British Labour Co-operative politician and microbiologist, who has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Heywood and Middleton since 1997.

Education and career[edit]

Jim Dobbin was born in Kincardine on Forth, Fife, Scotland, the son of a coal miner, and educated at the Catholic Saint Columba's High School, Cowdenbeath,[dubious ] and the Catholic St Andrew's High School on Overton Road in Kirkcaldy. He later went to Napier College, Edinburgh where he studied Bacteriology and Virology.

He worked as a microbiologist within the NHS for 33 years until 1994, mainly at the Royal Oldham Hospital. He was elected chairman of the Rochdale Constituency Labour Party for a year in 1980.

Political career[edit]

In 1983 he was elected as a councillor in the Metropolitan Borough of Rochdale, becoming the Labour group leader in 1994, and became the leader of the council in 1996. He stepped down from both the National Health Service and the council at Rochdale on his election to the House of Commons. In 1992 he had unsuccessfully contested the Bury North seat, coming second to the sitting Conservative MP Alistair Burt, some 4,764 votes behind.

Dobbin was elected to the House of Commons at the 1997 General Election for the safe Labour seat of Heywood and Middleton on the retirement of the veteran Labour MP Jim Callaghan. He held the seat comfortably with a majority of 17,542 and has been an MP there since. He made his maiden speech on 30 July 1997.[2] He has been a member of the European Scrutiny Select Committee since 1998.

In February 2012, he signed a petition sponsored by the Coalition for Marriage which states "I support the legal definition of marriage which is the voluntary union for life of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others. I oppose any attempt to redefine it." [3]

Dobbin was heavily criticised for his rudeness to cyclists on the "House of Commons Transport Select Committee to Discuss Cycling" in December 2013.[4][5][6]


Dobbin employs his wife to be his secretary in the House of Commons, a practice which has attracted significant national debate, but remains permissible under House of Commons rules.[7][8] Rochdale council leader Colin Lambert,[9] Labour councillor Alan Godson,[10] as well as former Labour councillor Brian Leather, are employed by Dobbin, and remunerated from his parliamentary expenses.[11]

In May 2009 it was revealed that Dobbin claimed more public funds for staff than any other MP in Greater Manchester: £99,700.[12] He has defended this by observing that he also has the largest number of constituents. Nationally, he has one of the lowest overall expense bills, with 504 out of 646 MPs having higher expense claims than him.[11]

Personal life[edit]

Dobbin has chaired the all-party Pro Life Group, and as a Roman Catholic he holds a Papal Knighthood from Pope Benedict XVI.[13][14] He married Pat Russell in 1964, and they have two sons and two daughters.


  1. ^ House of Commons – The Register of Members' Financial Interests – Part 2: Part 2. Publications.parliament.uk. Retrieved on 4 February 2013.
  2. ^ House of Commons Hansard Debates for 30 Jul 1997 (pt 4). Publications.parliament.uk (30 July 1997). Retrieved on 4 February 2013.
  3. ^ Signatories | Coalition For Marriage. C4m.org.uk. Retrieved on 4 February 2013.
  4. ^ "Dinosaur MPs on transport committee know little about cycling and care less". The Guardian (Guardian Media Group (G.M.G.)). 3 December 2013. 
  5. ^ "MPs should be embarrassed by Select Committee inquiry says Boardman". British Cycling (British Cycling Organisation). 3 December 2013. 
  6. ^ "Chris Boardman says cycling safety MPs embarrassingly ignorant". BBC News (BBC). 3 December 2013. 
  7. ^ Should MPs employ wives and husbands? – Channel 4 News. Channel4.com (25 October 2009). Retrieved on 4 February 2013.
  8. ^ Prince, Rosa (29 March 2010). "MPs’ expenses: wives and family members can still be employed". The Telegraph (London: Telegraph Media Group). 
  9. ^ http://democracy.rochdale.gov.uk/mgUserInfo.aspx?UID=152
  10. ^ http://democracy.rochdale.gov.uk/mgUserInfo.aspx?UID=169
  11. ^ a b Harvey, Paul (21 May 2009). "MPs defend expenses". Middleton Guardian (M.E.N. Media). 
  12. ^ "Jim Dobbin's expenses". Manchester Evening News (M.E.N. Media). 19 May 2009. 
  13. ^ [1]
  14. ^ "Vatican says it cannot posthumously remove Jimmy Savile's papal honor; condemns sexual abuse". Fox News. 27 October 2012. 

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
James Callaghan
Member of Parliament for Heywood and Middleton