Simon Burns

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The Right Honourable
Simon Burns
Simon Burns Official.jpg
Minister of State for Transport
In office
4 September 2012 – 4 October 2013[1]
Prime Minister David Cameron
Preceded by Theresa Villiers
Succeeded by Baroness Kramer
Minister of State for Health Services
In office
12 May 2010 – 4 September 2012
Prime Minister David Cameron
Preceded by Mike O'Brien
Succeeded by Dr. Daniel Poulter
Member of Parliament
for Chelmsford
West Chelmsford (1997–2010)
Assumed office
11 June 1987
Preceded by Norman St John-Stevas
Majority 5,110 (9.4%)
Personal details
Born (1952-09-06) 6 September 1952 (age 62)
Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, England
Nationality British
Political party Conservative
Spouse(s) Emma Clifford (1982-2000; divorced); 2 children
Alma mater Worcester College, Oxford

Simon Hugh McGuigan Burns (born 6 September 1952, Nottingham) is the current Conservative Party Member of Parliament for Chelmsford since the 1987 general election. He resigned from Minister of State for Transport in October 2013 in order to stand in the up-and-coming First Deputy Chairmen of Ways and Means by-election caused by the resignation of Nigel Evans.


Burns was educated at Christ the King School, Accra, Ghana; Stamford School; and Worcester College, Oxford, where he obtained a BA Honours Degree in Modern History (third class honours, resulting in the nickname 'third degree burns') in 1975. He also has an Honorary Doctorate of Philosophy from University of East Anglia. Burns was married to Emma Clifford from 1982 until their divorce in 2000. They have two children.

Political career[edit]

From 1975-80, Burns was political adviser to the Rt Hon Sally Oppenheim. From 1980–83 he was a journalist and company director of What To Buy for Business magazine, and from 1983–87 was on the Policy Executive of the Institute of Directors.

He has been active in politics since 1970, when he was a founder member of the Rutland and Stamford Young Conservatives, and founder and Chairman of the Stamford School CPC. From 1973-75, he was a committee member, Political Action Officer and Secretary of Oxford University Conservative Association, and a member of the Oxford Union. From 1977-81, he was Treasurer, Southfields Ward, and a member of the Treasurer's and Executive Council, Putney Conservative Association.

In 1983, he was Conservative candidate in Alyn and Deeside (North Wales) when he reduced Labour's majority from 6,800 to 1,368. In 1986, he was Chairman, Avonmore Ward, Fulham Conservative Association. Burns was made a member of the Privy Council in February 2011.


Burns in 2010

In 2007, Burns successfully proposed to the House of Commons Administration Committee, of which he was then a member, that Members of Parliament should have "priority access" to services within the Parliamentary Estate. In practice, this meant that MPs could avoid queues for shops, restaurants, bars, computers, photocopiers and even toilets by "pushing in" ahead of visitors or staff. The so-called "queue jumping rule" provoked cross-party opposition from Commons staff and other MPs but Burns trenchantly defended the proposal.[2][3]

On 3 April 2008, Burns was involved in a collision with a cyclist as he drove his 4x4 out of the Palace of Westminster into Parliament Square. The cyclist, British Army Major Stuart Lane, was thrown over the handlebars of his bicycle and broke two vertebrae in his neck "which could hinder his Army career". In February 2009 Burns pleaded guilty to a charge of careless driving and was fined £400 with £200 costs at the City of Westminster Magistrates' Court.[4]

In June 2010, Burns was forced to issue what one journalist called "a grovelling apology" after calling Commons speaker John Bercow a "stupid sanctimonious dwarf."[5] Burns was one of the few MPs to refuse to shake the Speaker’s hand when he took the oath of allegiance and his remarks were branded "derogatory" by the primordial dwarfism medical charity, Walking with Giants Foundation who expressed very serious concern about the negative influence of the remarks from someone in Burns' position.[5]

In November 2011, Burns compared members of the campaigning group 38 Degrees to zombies,[6] this led thousands of complaints and an open letter to Burns with over 85,000 signatures.[7]

In January 2013, Burns, the minister overseeing rising rail fares, was revealed to be making use of a ministerial car instead of travelling the 35 miles from his home to London by train. He claimed this was because he was not allowed to read sensitive papers on the train, but this claim was immediately contradicted by the Cabinet Office.[8] The cost to the taxpayer was estimated to be £80,000 per annum.[9]

Election results[edit]

In the 2005 general election, Burns gained 22,946 votes (44.9%), beating the three other candidates by a majority of 9,620 (18.8%). The number of votes cast for Burns in 2005 was an increase of 2.4% from the previous General Election in 2001. His majority also increased from 6,261 to 9,620. Turnout was 61.9%, down from 62.5% in 2001. In the 2010 general election, Burns gained 25,207 votes (46.2%), winning a majority over the Liberal Democrat candidate by 5,110 (9.4%).

In the 2015 general election, Burns gained 27,732 votes (51.5%), winning the seat with a majority over Chris Vince, the Labour candidate, of 18,250 (17.6%).[10]


  1. ^ "Rail minister Simon Burns stands down in deputy speaker bid". BBC News. 4 October 2013. 
  2. ^ McWalter, Simon (11 September 2007). "Secretaries slam "Victorian" Parliament which lets MPs queue jump at bars and restaurants". London, UK: The Daily Mail. Retrieved 11 August 2010. 
  3. ^ Hurst, Greg (3 November 2007). "Courteous palace coup stops MPs jumping to the head of the queue". London, UK: The Times. Retrieved 11 August 2010. 
  4. ^ Moore, Matthew (3 February 2009). "Tory MP fined over Parliament car crash". London, UK: The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 21 May 2010. 
  5. ^ a b Kirsty Walker (30 June 2010). "Minister’s apology to Dwarves after branding speaker a ‘stupid sanctimonious dwarf’". London: Daily Mail. Retrieved 1 July 2010. 
  6. ^ "Simon Burns MP likening 38 Degrees members to "Zombies" in House of Commons". Retrieved 23 November 2011. 
  7. ^ "Open letter to Simon Burns". Retrieved 23 November 2011. 
  8. ^ Owen, Glen (5 January 2013). "Article in Mail on Sunday". Daily Mail (London, UK). Retrieved 5 January 2013. 
  9. ^ Williams, Rob (6 January 2013). "Simon Burns, minister responsible for train fares, uses £80,000-a-year chauffeur-driven government car to 'avoid overcrowded trains'". The Independent (London, UK). 
  10. ^ 2015 general election results,; accessed 12 May 2015.

External links[edit]

Media related to Simon Burns at Wikimedia Commons

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Norman St John-Stevas
Member of Parliament for Chelmsford
Constituency abolished; recreated in 2010
New constituency Member of Parliament for Chelmsford West
Constituency abolished
New constituency Member of Parliament for Chelmsford