|The Right Honourable
|Speaking at the NHS Confederation annual conference, Manchester on 11 July 2011|
|Shadow Secretary of State for Education and Employment|
11 June 1997 – 2 June 1998
|Preceded by||Gillian Shephard|
|Succeeded by||David Willets|
|Shadow Secretary of State for Health|
2 May 1997 – 11 June 1997
|Preceded by||Frank Dobson|
|Succeeded by||John Maples|
|Secretary of State for Health|
5 July 1995 – 2 May 1997
|Prime Minister||John Major|
|Preceded by||Virginia Bottomley|
|Succeeded by||Frank Dobson|
|Secretary of State for National Heritage|
20 July 1994 – 5 July 1995
|Prime Minister||John Major|
|Preceded by||Peter Brooke|
|Succeeded by||Virginia Bottomley|
|Financial Secretary to the Treasury|
11 April 1992 – 11 July 1994
|Prime Minister||John Major|
|Preceded by||Francis Maude|
|Succeeded by||George Young|
|Member of Parliament
1 May 1997
|Preceded by||Constituency Created|
|Member of Parliament
3 May 1979 – 1 May 1997
|Preceded by||John Desmond Cronin|
|Succeeded by||Andy Reed|
25 March 1952 |
Worcester, Worcestershire, England
|Alma mater||Brasenose College, Oxford|
Stephen James Dorrell (born 25 March 1952) is a British politician. A member of the Conservative Party, he served in the Cabinet of Prime Minister John Major as Secretary of State for National Heritage (1994–95) and Secretary of State for Health (1995–97). He has been a Member of Parliament (MP) since 1979, representing the constituency of Charnwood in northern Leicestershire since 1997, and is a Patron of the Tory Reform Group.
- 1 Early life and education
- 2 Political career
- 3 Criticisms of business practice
- 4 Personal life
- 5 References
- 6 External links
Early life and education
Dorrell was born in Worcester. He was educated at Uppingham School, an independent school for boys in the small market town of Uppingham in Rutland in central England, followed by Brasenose College, Oxford, where he was awarded a Bachelor of Arts degree. Dorrell was a member of the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve for two years from 1971.
During the February 1974 general election, Dorrell acted as a personal assistant to Conservative minister Peter Walker. He contested the safe Labour seat of Hull East at the October 1974 general election, when aged only 22, but was soundly defeated by the sitting MP and later Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, who was returned with a majority of 25,793 votes.
At the 1979 general election, the Conservatives were returned to office under the leadership of Margaret Thatcher. Dorrell, still only 27, was elected to the House of Commons for the marginal seat of Loughborough, ousting the veteran Labour MP John Cronin by 5,199 votes. He has remained an MP since.
On his election he was the Baby of the House of Commons, an informal title for the youngest member. He was succeeded as the Baby of the House on 9 April 1981 when Bobby Sands was elected at the April 1981 Fermanagh and South Tyrone by-election, however Sands died on 5 May 1981 whilst on hunger strike in Long Kesh Prison. Dorrell again became the Baby of the House until 20 August 1981, when Sands' successor Owen Carron was elected at the August 1981 Fermanagh and South Tyrone by-election.
Following his election to parliament in 1979 he was a member of the Transport Select Committee. After the 1983 general election he was appointed as the Parliamentary Private Secretary to his old boss Peter Walker, who had now become the Secretary of State for Energy.
Dorrell was promoted to government after the 1987 General Election by the Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher as an Assistant Government Whip, and in 1988 became a Lord Commissioner to the Treasury 'full whip'. He was appointed as the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department of Health in 1990 under the premiership of John Major. After the 1992 General Election he became the Financial Secretary to the Treasury.
Dorrell was promoted to the Major Cabinet as the Secretary of State for National Heritage in 1994, and on appointment became a Member of the Privy Council. He headhunted Jennie Page for the job of Millennium Dome Chief Executive according to The Observer. Page was sacked shortly after the Dome's opening night fiasco. He was transferred to become the Secretary of State for Health in 1995, and remained in position until the end of the Conservative administration at the 1997 general election.
Dorrell was often deployed in the media as a spokesman for the Major government, as it was felt he conveyed an air of approachability and popular appeal. During party conference season in the late nineties he was followed by a camera crew from the BBC's Breakfast show, capturing the behind-the-scenes build-up to his conference speech. The actual speech was also shown, including his joke (at the height of tensions in the Conservative party over Europe) that he considered himself a 'bureausceptic'. Unfortunately the joke, a reference to trying to reduce the level of red tape in the Health Service fell on deaf ears.
When constituency boundaries were revised for the 1997 election, he moved with his key rural voters into the new Charnwood Constituency. He won the seat comfortably with a majority of 5,900, Loughborough itself being lost to Andy Reed of Labour.
He launched a bid for the leadership of the Conservative Party in 1997 but withdrew before the first ballot when it became clear his support amongst Conservative MPs was negligible. Instead he threw his support behind Kenneth Clarke's bid. Under William Hague he became shadow Secretary of State for Education and Employment, but left the shadow cabinet in 1998, and has remained a backbencher since.
Chairman of Health Select Committee and views on NHS reforms
In June 2010, Dorrell was elected Chairman of the Health Select Committee. In June 2011, following concerns over the unpopularity of Andrew Lansley's NHS reforms Dorrell was tipped as a possible successor but stated that he wanted to continue as the committee chairman for the full parliament. An alternate view was that David Cameron would not want any more "Tory retreads" from previous governments. Dorrell acknowledged that resources would become tighter but changes driven by new medicines and new expectations were inevitable and integration of health care and social care would be both better and more efficient. Interviewed in 2012, Dorrell stated that the 4% per year for four years efficiency targets agreed before the 2010 election, "a huge challenge" were taking too long to achieve. Whilst the bill had good points, e.g. involving clinicians and local authorities, more independence for public health etc. savings required a change in the way care is delivered not just changes in management structure. The reforms were acting as a "disruption and distraction". They were a secondary issue compared with the need to make efficiency savings of £20bn. Dorrell resigned in June 2014 and was succeeded by Sarah Wollaston.
Expenses investigation over "secret flat rent deal" with care home owners
In November 2012 Dorrell was reported to the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority -IPSA after arranging to sell his London flat to “friends” who owned a chain of nursing homes -and then renting it back at £1400 a month, funded by the taxpayer. His impartiality was also questioned as the Health committee was investigating social care and some of the chain's nursing homes had been criticised by the Care Quality Commission. Committee members were not aware of the financial connection. David Cameron refused to get involved saying it was a matter for IPSA who said the rules banned renting from family members not friends.
Standing down from Parliament
In November 2014, Dorrell surprised constituency colleagues by announcing he was standing down in order to take a job with KPMG. Andrew Bridgen also expressed surprise but said that the prestige of Parliament had fallen since the expenses scandal and a number of experienced MPs were leaving. Loughborough MP Nicky Morgan described him as a really important figure in Leicestershire but denied she would consider switching seats. Labour candidate Sean Kelly Walsh also paid tribute to his work for his constituents, as Health minister and chairman of the Health Affairs Select Committee.
Criticisms of business practice
Dorrell has been criticised for his actions when his family owned firm went into a prepack administration in 2009, a "controversial" but legal procedure which the Government’s Insolvency Service said was "mocking rules". David Blake, director of the Cass Business School in London, believes the method is used to dump pension fund liabilities. The controversy may have deterred David Cameron from inviting Dorrell to join the Front Bench.
Dorrell was a director of clothing company, Faithful, a family business established in the 19th Century which made blue collar workwear in Worcester. According to the finance director,Steve Hall the company had been quite profitable until 2004 when it was split between Dorrell and his brother. By 2005, after a number of unsuccessful acquisitions the company pensions deficit was almost £3m. The scheme was changed to money purchase and the factory site was pledged to support it. However when the site was sold, some of the money was used to buy another business and the firm merged with stock market listed Wensom. None of the money was paid into the scheme. According to Dorrell, the pension now required 10% of the annual turnover making restructuring impossible. An independent trustee was appointed and the pension fund received nothing though Wensum was able to continue in business.
In May 2009 the company was put into a prepack administration which allowed a new company, GG125 to acquire Wensum's assets for £7.9m whilst leaving its debts unpaid.
GG125 was subsequently renamed Wensum Group Limited. The deal was completed in a day, Dorrell receiving a director salary (increased to £200,000 in September 2009) plus 15% share ownership in the new company. As company contributions had ceased, the workers were put into the Pension Protection Fund (PPF) which caps the maximum payable and has limited protection against inflation. Finance director Steve Hall expects to lose 30-40% of his pension because of the cap. Both Dorrell and his wife had already withdrawn their pensions but Dorrell claimed he had lost £550,000 because of the failure and that alternative to the prepack would have offered less.
The prepack was also criticised as "completely immoral" and inappropriate for listed companies by a South African creditor LA group. They sold a clothing manufacturer to Wensum in May 2009 in exchange for Wensum shares which became worthless after the prepack. Another Wensum shareholder compared the deal to a "spider eviscerating a fly it has caught, taking all the good bits, then dropping the useless carcass, which is the creditors, the shareholders, and of course the taxpayer."
- "Stephen Dorrell MP -official constituency website". Retrieved 2 May 2012.
- Thorpe, Vanessa (5 February 2000). "How Dome dreams were dashed]". The Observer. Retrieved 31 July 2008.
- John Hess (9 June 2011). "Stephen Dorrell rules out return as Health Secretary". BBC. Retrieved 1 May 2012.
- "Stephen Dorrell: NHS faces huge challenge". BBC. 24 January 2012. Retrieved 1 May 2012.
- Clare Horton (2 March 2012). "=NHS reform debate has lost touch with reality, says Stephen Dorrell". Guardian. Retrieved 2 May 2012.
- "Dr Sarah Wollaston elected as health committee chairwoman". BBC News. 18 June 2014. Retrieved 14 July 2014.
- Christopher Hope (21 November 2012). "MPs' expenses: Stephen Dorrell MP reported to sleaze watchdog over secret flat rent deal". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 24 October 2014.
- danjmartin (25 November 2014). "Conservative Charnwood MP Stephen Dorrell quitting Parliament to join KPMG". Leiceter Mercury. Retrieved 26 November 2014.
- Graham Ruddick (21 Jul 2009). "MP Stephen Dorrell faces backlash over Wensum 'pre-pack'". Retrieved 1 May 2012.
- Fran Abrams (9 March 2010). "How firms 'avoid' pension costs". BBC. Retrieved 1 May 2012.
- Fran Abrams (14 March 2010). "Pensions crisis". BBC File on 4. Retrieved 1 May 2012.
- Graham Ruddick (19 September 2009). "Stephen Dorrell criticised over 'immoral' deal". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 1 May 2012.
- Graham Ruddick (27 September 2009). "MP gets pay rise as creditors struggle with £4m debt". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 1 May 2012.
- "Stephen Dorrell MP". Westminster Parliamentary Record. Retrieved 2 May 2012.
- "Changes to the Register of Members' Interests Stephen Dorrell]". TheyWorkForYou. Retrieved 2 May 2012.
- Profile at Parliament of the United Kingdom
- Contributions in Parliament at Hansard 1803–2005
- Current session contributions in Parliament at Hansard
- Electoral history and profile at The Guardian
- Voting record at Public Whip
- Record in Parliament at TheyWorkForYou
- Profile at Westminster Parliamentary Record
- Profile at BBC News Democracy Live
- Articles authored at Journalisted
- Profile: Stephen Dorrell MP, BBC News, 18 October 2002
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
John Desmond Cronin
|Member of Parliament for Loughborough
|Baby of the House
|Baby of the House
|New constituency||Member of Parliament for Charnwood
|Financial Secretary to the Treasury
|Secretary of State for National Heritage
|Secretary of State for Health
|Shadow Secretary of State for Health||Succeeded by