Bill Rammell

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Bill Rammell
Bill Rammell.jpg
Rammell in 2008
Vice-Chancellor of the University of Bedfordshire
In office
August 2012 – December 2019
ChancellorJohn Bercow
Preceded byLes Ebdon
Succeeded byProfessor Rebecca Bunting
Minister of State for the Armed Forces
In office
8 June 2009 – 11 May 2010
Prime MinisterGordon Brown
Preceded byBob Ainsworth
Succeeded byNick Harvey
Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
In office
5 October 2008 – 8 June 2009
Prime MinisterGordon Brown
Preceded byKim Howells
Succeeded byIvan Lewis
Minister of State for Higher Education
In office
11 May 2005 – 5 October 2008
Prime MinisterTony Blair
Gordon Brown
Preceded byKim Howells
Succeeded byDavid Lammy
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
In office
28 October 2002 – 10 May 2005
Prime MinisterTony Blair
Preceded byDenis MacShane
Succeeded byThe Lord Triesman
Member of Parliament
for Harlow
In office
1 May 1997 – 12 April 2010
Preceded byJerry Hayes
Succeeded byRobert Halfon
Personal details
Born (1959-10-10) 10 October 1959 (age 61)
Islington, Greater London, England
Political partyLabour
Spouse(s)Beryl Jarhall
Children1 son, 1 daughter
Alma materCardiff University

William Ernest Rammell (born 10 October 1959) is a British Labour Party politician, who was the Member of Parliament (MP) for Harlow from 1997 until 2010, and served as a Minister of State in several departments from 2002. From August 2012 to December 2019 he was Vice-Chancellor of the University of Bedfordshire.[1] He was chair of the university consortium MillionPlus from June to December 2019.[2][3]

Early life and career[edit]

Rammell went to Burnt Mill Comprehensive School on First Avenue in Harlow and was an occasional roadie for fellow Burnt Mill Alumni, Harlow musician Murray Torkildson[4][circular reference].

At the University of Wales, Cardiff, he studied for a BA in French, gaining a degree in 1982. He was president of Cardiff University Students' Union from 1982 to 1983. He was a management trainee at British Rail from 1983 to 1984. From 1984 to 1987, he was a Regional Officer at the National Union of Students.

Rammell was a member of Harlow District Council from 1985 to 1997. From 1987 to 1989, he was head of youth services for Basildon Borough Council. He was then general manager of King's College London Students' Union from 1990 to 1994, and business manager of the University of London Union from 1994 to 1997.

Political career[edit]

Rammell joined Tony Blair's government in October 2002 as an assistant whip but was promoted two weeks later to be a spokesperson for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.[5] Rammell, a pro-European, was supportive of joining the Single European Currency, as until 2002 he was Chair of Labour Movement for Europe.[6] In September 2004, he was the first British government minister to visit North Korea.[7]

In the 2005 general election, Rammell had the third smallest majority of any Labour MP, at just 97 votes. The result was so close that the final declaration had to be delayed until two days after voting, to give exhausted counting officials time to rest.[8]

In May 2005, Rammell was made Minister of State for Higher Education. He was strongly supportive of top-up fees, claiming that without the income from such fees, estimated to be £1.4 billion, it would be necessary to put "3p or 4p on the standard rate of tax" or "put up income tax by 3%".[9][10][11] In September 2007, he withdrew funding from some adult and continuing education courses in universities.[12]

In February 2008, Rammell announced plans to create a national database of children's school records and exam results which would make up a publicly owned CV. The CV and "Learner Number" would stay with the child throughout adult life until retirement and only the British government would be able to remove records from their database entry. The plan would only have applied to English children, with education being a devolved matter.[13]

In October 2008, Rammell returned to the Foreign Office, this time in the role of Minister of State, and in June 2009, was moved again to the Ministry of Defence as Minister of State for the Armed Forces. He defended the Brown government's levels of spending on equipment in Afghanistan, following a soldier's death because of a lack of available helicopters.[14]

In September 2009, Rammell confirmed he had told Libya that the Prime Minister did not want to see convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, who had been serving a life sentence, die in prison.[15]

In October 2009, following Sir Thomas Legg's audit, Rammell was ordered to repay £2,782 of wrongful expenses claims.[16]

In the 2010 general election, Rammell was defeated in Harlow by Conservative candidate Robert Halfon, who gained the seat with a majority of 4,925 votes.[17]

On 13 April 2012, it was announced Rammell was to become the new Vice-Chancellor of the University of Bedfordshire, taking up his post in August 2012 for the start of the new academic year. He had previously worked for Plymouth University as Deputy Vice-Chancellor with responsibility for student experience and internationalisation.[18]

In November 2019, it was announced Rammell would step down from his role as Vice-Chancellor at the end of the year.[18]

Personal life[edit]

Rammell married Beryl Jarhall on 1 January 1983. They have a son (born September 1989) and a daughter (born November 1992).

Voting record[edit]

How Rammell voted on key issues since 2001:[5]

  • Has never voted on a transparent Parliament.
  • Voted for introducing a smoking ban.
  • Voted for introducing ID cards.
  • Voted for introducing foundation hospitals.
  • Voted for introducing student top-up fees.
  • Voted for Labour's anti-terrorism laws.
  • Voted for the Iraq war.
  • Voted against investigating the Iraq war.
  • Voted for replacing Trident.
  • Voted for the hunting ban.
  • Voted for homosexual marriage.


  1. ^ "University of Bedfordshire Vice-Chancellor announces departure | University of Bedfordshire". Retrieved 7 April 2021.
  2. ^ "MillionPlus: Bedfordshire Vice-Chancellor Bill Rammell elected Chair of MillionPlus". Retrieved 7 April 2021.
  3. ^ "MillionPlus: MillionPlus elects new Chair". Retrieved 7 April 2021.
  4. ^ Murray Torkildsen
  5. ^ a b They Work For You
  6. ^ Watt, Nicholas; White, Michael (22 January 2002). "Labour group highlights single currency fears". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 23 August 2019.
  7. ^ "Minister discusses N Korea rights". 11 September 2004. Retrieved 22 August 2019.
  8. ^ "BBC NEWS | Election 2005 | Results | Harlow". Retrieved 22 August 2019.
  9. ^ "Rammell's mission to explain fees". BBC News online. 3 October 2005. Retrieved 23 December 2008.
  10. ^ Devoted to debt
  11. ^ Price of failure more than £10bn, v-cs warn
  12. ^ Rammell, Bill (16 January 2007). "Bill Rammell on the need for Esol cuts". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 22 August 2019.
  13. ^ "Anger over pupils database plan". BBC News online. 13 February 2008. Archived from the original on 17 February 2008. Retrieved 14 February 2008.
  14. ^ "Minister defends UK forces' kit". 31 October 2009. Retrieved 22 August 2019.
  15. ^ "No bomber release cover-up – PM". BBC News online. 2 September 2009. Retrieved 2 September 2009.
  16. ^ "MPs expenses: what the MPs have been asked to pay back". The Daily Telegraph. 15 October 2009. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 23 August 2019.
  17. ^ "BBC News | Election 2010 | Constituency | Harlow". Retrieved 22 August 2019.
  18. ^ a b "Bill Rammell - | University of Bedfordshire". Retrieved 22 August 2019.

External links[edit]

News items[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Jerry Hayes
Member of Parliament for Harlow
Succeeded by
Robert Halfon
Preceded by
Bob Ainsworth
Minister of State for the Armed Forces
Succeeded by
Nick Harvey
Academic offices
Preceded by
Les Ebdon
Vice-Chancellor of the University of Bedfordshire
Succeeded by