Mike O'Brien (British politician)

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The Right Honourable
Mike O'Brien
QC
Mike O'Brien, April 2009 cropped.jpg
Minister of State for Health Services
In office
8 June 2009 – 11 May 2010
Prime Minister Gordon Brown
Preceded by Ben Bradshaw
Succeeded by Simon Burns
Minister of State for Energy
In office
5 October 2008 – 8 June 2009
Prime Minister Gordon Brown
Preceded by Office Created
Succeeded by Joan Ruddock
Minister of State for Pensions
In office
27 June 2007 – 5 October 2008
Prime Minister Gordon Brown
Preceded by John Hutton
Succeeded by Rosie Winterton
Solicitor General for England and Wales
In office
11 May 2005 – 27 June 2007
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Preceded by Harriet Harman
Succeeded by Vera Baird
Minister of State for Trade and Industry
In office
8 June 2001 – 11 May 2005
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Preceded by Nigel Griffiths
Succeeded by Ian McCartney
Minister of State for Immigration
In office
2 May 1997 – 8 June 2001
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Preceded by Emily Blatch
Succeeded by Barbara Roche
Member of Parliament
for North Warwickshire
In office
9 April 1992 – 6 May 2010
Preceded by Francis Maude
Succeeded by Daniel Byles
Majority 7,553 (16.1%)
Personal details
Born (1954-06-19) 19 June 1954 (age 60)
Worcester, England, UK
Nationality British
Political party Labour
Spouse(s) Alison Joy Munro
Alma mater North Staffordshire Polytechnic
Religion Roman Catholic
Website Official site

Michael O'Brien QC (born 19 June 1954) is a British former Labour Party politician who was the Member of Parliament (MP) for North Warwickshire from 1992 to 2010.[1] In the May 2010 general election, he lost his North Warwickshire constituency to Dan Byles, the Conservative Party candidate. O'Brien was re-selected as Labour's candidate in North Warwickshire for the 2015 General Election in June 2013.[2]

Early life[edit]

O'Brien attended a Roman Catholic primary school, St George's[where?] and later attended Blessed Edward Oldcorne School (Worcester). He studied for a BA in History and Politics at North Staffordshire Polytechnic, then gained a PGCE. From 1977-80, he was a trainee solicitor, then trained as a teacher from 1980-1. He lectured in Business Law at Colchester College of Further and Higher Education from 1981-87. From 1987-92, he practised as a solicitor specialising in criminal law including handling cases of murder and City fraud and acted for a major defendant in the Knightsbridge Security Deposit robbery.[3] He became a Queen's Counsel in 2007.[4]

Parliamentary career[edit]

O'Brien contested Ruislip Northwood in 1983, and North Warwickshire in 1987. He was elected as the Member of Parliament for the West Midlands constituency of North Warwickshire at the 1992 general election, defeating the Conservative incumbent Francis Maude, and lost his seat to the Conservative candidate at the 2010 general election. He served on the Home Affairs Select Committee from November 1992 to May 1993 focusing on reports on Youth Justice and the defence of provocation in murder cases involving a spouse. In May 1993 he became the first Labour Parliamentary Adviser to the Police Federation in 20 years and subsequently transferred to the Treasury Select Committee where he worked on a report into the collapse of Barings Bank and other reports on City Fraud and Independence of the Bank of England.[citation needed]

Minister of State for Immigration[edit]

He served as Minister of State for Immigration in the Home Office from 1997–2001.[1] During his time as Minister of State for Immigration net migration to the UK rose significantly. In 1997, annual net immigration stood at 56,000 but by 2001 net immigration had risen to 191,500.[5] In March 1998, it was announced that UK immigration officers were instructed to stop checking the passports of passengers embarking at British ports and airports. Mike O'Brien described the procedure of checking passports as "routine and unproductive" but the Immigration Service Union criticised the move, saying the changes made it harder to ensure that illegal immigrants ordered out of the country actually left.[6] In May 1998 Mike O'Brien announced that inhabitants of the island of Monserrat, which had been hit by volcanic eruptions, were able to stay in Britain indefinitely.[7] O'Brien's time as Minister of State for Immigration was marred in the late 1990s by administrative problems including delays in officials giving clearance to NHS doctors[8] and backlogs in processing applications for passports. The delays in issuing passports made national headlines[9] and resulted in the UK Passport Agency being stripped of its Charter Mark for customer service.[10] Mike O'Brien also developed procedures to deal with suspected terrorists at the Special Immigration Appeals Commission.[citation needed] He also took through major reforms in the Immigration and Asylum Act, including introducing fines for hauliers found to have illegal migrants in their lorry, whether or not the haulier knew of their presence.[citation needed]

Hinduja affair[edit]

Whilst serving as Minister of State for Immigration, Mike O'Brien had to deal with the 2001 Hinduja affair. His testimony that Peter Mandelson had telephoned him on behalf of Srichand Hinduja, who was at the time seeking British citizenship led leading to Mandelson's resignation.[11] An independent enquiry by Sir Anthony Hammond came to the conclusion that neither Mandelson nor anyone else had acted improperly.

Minister for Constitutional Affairs[edit]

From May 1999 he became the Minister for Constitutional Affairs, taking through the Commons the Freedom of Information Act, the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000, two Representation of the People Acts and introducing a White Paper on Alcohol Licensing Reform. As Minister responsible for Race Relations he developed the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000 which placed obligations on all public bodies to promote good race relations. He also worked to develop closer links between the Government and the Muslim community, something he continued to work on over the next decade, particularly after 9/11.[citation needed]

Minister for the Middle East[edit]

At the Foreign Office from 2002 to 2003 he was Minister for the Middle East. He went to Libya to hold the first meeting of a British Minister with Libyan leader Colonel Gaddafi which opened the way to better relations between Gadaffi's Libya and the West and helped lead to cooperation on ending controversial Libyan weapons research programmes.[citation needed] He was the first Western Minister into Baghdad after the Iraq War and worked on relationships with Iran, Syria and Afghanistan during this period.[citation needed]

Minister of State for Trade and Industry[edit]

He was then appointed Minister of State for Trade and Industry, dealing with talks with the WTO as part of the Doha Round and helping to write the 2004 Trade White Paper.

Minister of State for E-commerce, Energy & Competitiveness[edit]

Following a reshuffle, he become Minister of State for E-commerce, Energy & Competitiveness at the Department of Trade and Industry on 9 September 2004.

Solicitor General for England and Wales[edit]

After the 2005 General Election he replaced Harriet Harman as Solicitor General for England and Wales.

On 29 June 2007 he was appointed as Minister of State for Pension Reform in the Department for Work and Pensions under Secretary of State Peter Hain. Referring to the long running Pensions Action Group campaign and speaking on the BBC Radio 4 Moneybox programme on the day compensation was announced, pensions expert Ros Altmann, credited Peter Hain and O'Brien with "having been very different to deal with than their predecessors and ... willing and eager to engage and find a way to sort this out."[12] The Pensions Act 2008 completed its major stages whilst O' Brien was minister and received Royal Assent in November 2008.[13]

Minister of State for Energy[edit]

On 5 October 2008, he became Minister of State for Energy in order to help create the new Department of Energy and Climate Change. He took through Parliament two Energy Acts making reforms to take account of the Climate Change debate and to enable the building of new nuclear power stations.[citation needed]

Minister of State for Health[edit]

In June 2009 he became the Minister of State for Health. As well as taking through administrative reforms of the NHS in two Acts of Parliament, he negotiated a settlement of compensation for the victims of Thalidomide and introduced priority NHS treatment of former service personnel injured in the line of duty.[citation needed]

Defeat at 2010 General Election[edit]

In the 2010 general election O'Brien lost North Warwickshire to Dan Byles (Conservative) by 54 votes.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Mike O'Brien Former Labour MP for North Warwickshire". Theyworkforyou.com. Retrieved 2011-01-10. 
  2. ^ Ryan Merriman (11 June 2013). "Mike O'Brien to take on Dan Byles". Nuneaton News. Retrieved 8 July 2013. 
  3. ^ "No5 Chambers:Mike O'Brien:Crime". www.no5.com. Retrieved 8 July 2013. 
  4. ^ "Mike O’Brien - Administrative & Public Law". www.no5.com. Retrieved 8 July 2013. 
  5. ^ "ONS Migration statistics". Office for National Statistic. March 2014. 
  6. ^ "Journey's end for passport checks". BBC News. March 2014. 
  7. ^ "Montserrat volcano evacuees can stay in UK". BBC News. March 2014. 
  8. ^ "Health Immigration delays 'cause NHS chaos'". BBC News. March 2014. 
  9. ^ "Fuming for a passport". BBC News. March 2014. 
  10. ^ "Passport office stripped of award". BBC News. March 2014. 
  11. ^ "BBC News | SOUTH ASIA | Mandelson resigns over Hinduja affair". News.bbc.co.uk. 24 January 2001. Retrieved 2008-10-03. 
  12. ^ "MONEY BOX transcript page 4". BBC. 7 December 2007. Retrieved 25 April 2010. 
  13. ^ "Pensions Act 2008". epolitics. Retrieved 10 January 2010. 

External links[edit]

News items[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Francis Maude
Member of Parliament
for North Warwickshire

19922010
Succeeded by
Dan Byles
Legal offices
Preceded by
Harriet Harman
Solicitor General for England and Wales
2005–2007
Succeeded by
Vera Baird
Government offices
Preceded by
Emily Blatch
Minister of State for Immigration
1997–2001
Succeeded by
Barbara Roche
Preceded by
Nigel Griffiths
Minister of State for Trade and Industry
2001–2005
Succeeded by
Ian McCartney
Preceded by
John Hutton
Minister of State for Pensions
2007–2008
Succeeded by
Rosie Winterton
Preceded by
Office Created
Minister of State for Energy
2008–2009
Succeeded by
Joan Ruddock
Preceded by
Ben Bradshaw
Minister for Health Services
2009–2010
Succeeded by
Simon Burns