Jeff Rooker

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The Lord Rooker

Official portrait of Lord Rooker crop 2.jpg
Chair of the Food Standards Agency
In office
July 2009 – July 2013
Appointed byHilary Benn
Preceded byDame Deirdre Hutton
Succeeded byHeather Hancock
Deputy Leader of the House of Lords
In office
June 2005 – October 2008
Prime MinisterTony Blair
Gordon Brown
LeaderThe Baroness Amos
The Baroness Ashton of Upholland
Preceded byThe Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean
Succeeded byThe Lord Hunt of Kings Heath
Minister of State for Sustainable Food, Farming and Animal Health
In office
6 May 2006 – 3 October 2008
Prime MinisterTony Blair
Gordon Brown
Preceded byLord Bach (as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Sustainable Farming and Food)
Succeeded byJane Kennedy (as Minister of State for Farming and the Environment)
Minister of State for Children in Northern Ireland
In office
9 May 2005 – 6 May 2006
Prime MinisterTony Blair
Preceded byBarry Gardiner (as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Department of Education)
Succeeded byMaria Eagle (as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Department of Education)
Minister of State for Housing and Planning
In office
29 May 2002 – 13 June 2003
Prime MinisterTony Blair
Preceded byCharles Falconer
Succeeded byKeith Hill
Minister of State for Asylum and Immigration
In office
11 June 2001 – 29 May 2002
Prime MinisterTony Blair
Preceded byBarbara Roche
Succeeded byBeverley Hughes (Immigration, Citizenship and Counter-Terrorism)
Member of Parliament
for Birmingham Perry Barr
In office
28 February 1974 – 7 June 2001
Preceded byJoseph Kinsey
Succeeded byKhalid Mahmood
Personal details
Jeffrey William Rooker

(1941-07-05) 5 July 1941 (age 78)
Political partyLabour (Commons); Independent (Lords 2009–2013); Labour (Lords 2013–)
Alma materAston University

Jeffrey William Rooker, Baron Rooker, PC (born 5 June 1941) is a British politician, who served as the Labour Member of Parliament (MP) for Birmingham Perry Barr from 1974 until 2001. He was later appointed to the House of Lords, being created a life peer on 16 June 2001 with the title Baron Rooker, of Perry Barr in the County of the West Midlands,[1] where he was appointed to the Government for a year as the Minister of State for Asylum and Immigration. He resigned the Labour whip in 2009 after being appointed Chairman of the Food Standards Agency and sat as an Independent member in the House of Lords until 2013 when, standing down as FSA Chairman, he took up the Labour whip once again.[2]

Early life[edit]

The son of a factory worker, Jeff Rooker attended Aldridge Road Secondary Modern Boys School (now called Great Barr School), Aldridge Road, Great Barr. He later attended Handsworth Technical School and College (later known as City College Handsworth), Goldshill Road, Handsworth. He initially trained as a production engineer, working in various factories in and around Birmingham for 14 years and then became a lecturer on the subject at Lanchester Polytechnic.

Lord Rooker is an alumnus of Aston University in the city of Birmingham, and was awarded an honorary doctorate in 2001, he served as Editor of the Birmingham Student Union News (SUN) 1963/64.[3] He also has a post-graduate degree from Warwick University in Industrial Relations. In 1966 he was an unsuccessful candidate for membership of Birmingham City Council.

Parliamentary career[edit]

Rooker was selected as a parliamentary candidate in October 1971 for his home constituency of Birmingham Perry Barr, which he won in the General Election in February 1974. He achieved a measure of national prominence in June 1977 while still a backbencher. With fellow MP Audrey Wise, he introduced the so-called Rooker-Wise Amendment to the Budget. This linked personal tax allowances to the rate of inflation, thereby preventing the erosion of non-taxable income. The BBC has described the amendment as "a rare example of direct backbench influence on the Budget".[4] He led an unsuccessful attempt to prosecute World War II German General Wilhelm Mohnke for his alleged role in war crimes inflicted on British troops at Wormhoudt in 1940.[citation needed]

Rooker served in a number of junior ministerial posts after 1997, both as an MP and as a member of the House of Lords in areas as diverse as agriculture, social security, immigration, local government and Northern Ireland. He was made a Privy Counsellor in 1999. In August 2005 he was named the first Minister for Children in Northern Ireland. He was later appointed Minister of State for Sustainable Food and Farming and Animal Health at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on 6 May 2006, as well as being responsible for animal welfare. He later served as deputy leader of the House of Lords, but stood down in October 2008.[citation needed]

Rooker is a vice president of The Birmingham Civic Society. As of January 2008, he is a lay governor of Aston University. Rooker was a controversial choice as Minister for Animal Welfare due to his well-known pro-hunting views. In 2007, following Rooker's appointment, numerous complaints from animal welfare campaigners were sent to the Labour Party. In July 2009 he was appointed as chair of the Food Standards Agency and resigned the Labour party whip for the duration until he ceased to be chair in 2013.[citation needed]


Jeff Rooker has shown himself to be outspokenly in favour of genetically modified (GM) foods. In September 2008, at the Labour Party Conference, he accused people opposed to GM foods of "ignorance".[5] Rooker called for Jeremy Corbyn to be removed as Labour Party leader before 2020.[6]

Personal life[edit]

He married Angela Edwards in 1972 in Paddington. He was widowed in January 2003. He married second wife Helen Hughes on 5 February 2010 in a private ceremony in Christchurch, New Zealand. He has two stepchildren, Alexander and Morwenna.

Styles of address[edit]

  • 1941–1974: Mr Jeffrey W. Rooker
  • 1974–1999: Mr Jeffrey W. Rooker MP
  • 1999–2001: The Right Honourable Jeffrey W. Rooker MP
  • 2001: The Right Honourable Jeffrey W. Rooker
  • 2001–: The Right Honourable The Lord Rooker PC


  1. ^ "No. 56252". The London Gazette. 21 June 2001. p. 7343.
  2. ^ "Jeff Rooker resigns Labour whip to chair Food Standards Agency". The Times. 1 July 2009. Retrieved 20 January 2011.
  3. ^ "Aston announces this year's honorary graduates" (Press release). Aston University. 10 July 2001. Retrieved 5 January 2008.[permanent dead link]
  4. ^ "Budget rebellions remain scarce". BBC. 24 April 2008. Retrieved 23 June 2010.
  5. ^ Driver, Alistair (22 September 2008). "Rooker accuses 'messianic' anti-GM lobby of ignorance". Farmers Guardian. Archived from the original on 12 May 2010.
  6. ^ (3 December 2015). "Labour peer: We need to get rid of Corbyn".

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Joseph Kinsey
Member of Parliament for Birmingham Perry Barr
Feb 19742001
Succeeded by
Khalid Mahmood
Political offices
Preceded by
The Lord Falconer of Thoroton
Minister of State for Housing and Planning
Succeeded by
Keith Hill
Preceded by
The Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean
Deputy Leader of the House of Lords
Succeeded by
The Lord Hunt of Kings Heath