Parmjit Dhanda

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Parmjit Singh Dhanda
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government
In office
28 June 2007 – 6 October 2008
Prime MinisterGordon Brown
Preceded byAngela Smith
Succeeded bySadiq Khan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education and Skills
In office
8 May 2006 – 28 June 2007
Prime MinisterTony Blair
Preceded byMaria Eagle
Succeeded byKevin Brennan
Member of Parliament
for Gloucester
In office
8 June 2001 – 12 April 2010
Preceded byTess Kingham
Succeeded byRichard Graham
Personal details
Born (1971-09-17) 17 September 1971 (age 47)
Hillingdon, London, UK
Political partyLabour
Spouse(s)Rupi Dhanda
Alma materUniversity of Nottingham

Parmjit Singh Dhanda (born 17 September 1971) is a British Labour Party politician who was the Member of Parliament (MP) for Gloucester from 2001 until the 2010 general election, succeeding Tess Kingham as the Labour MP for the seat.


Dhanda was born in London to Indian immigrants of Sikh Punjabi background, and brought up in Southall.[1] His mother was a cleaner at a local hospital, whilst his father was a lorry driver.[2] He was educated at Mellow Lane School,[2] a state Comprehensive School in Hayes, Middlesex, before attending the University of Nottingham, where he received a Bachelor of Engineering degree in 1993, and an MA in information technology in 1995.

Dhanda was the first ever Minister to serve in the UK Government of Indian Heritage and remains the only Sikh Minister to date.[1]

Dhanda is married with two children.[2] He has been a member of the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (USDAW) since 1999. He speaks Punjabi and French, in addition to English.

Political career[edit]

Dhanda became a Labour Party organiser in West London, Hampshire and Wiltshire in 1996, then went on to be assistant national organiser with Connect in 1998 where he remained until he was elected to Westminster. He was elected as a councillor in the London Borough of Hillingdon in 1998 and served on the council until 2002. As a member of Labour's list for the 1999 European Parliament election, he became the country's youngest European Parliamentary candidate, aged 27.

He was selected to contest the House of Commons constituency of Gloucester at the 2001 general election - the seat Labour required for a parliamentary majority of 1 - following the decision of Tess Kingham to stand down. He made his maiden speech in the Commons on 27 June 2001, in which he made reference to the local newspaper's article stating (upon his selection by the Labour Party) that "the people of Gloucester had not reached a sufficiently advanced state of consciousness to accept a 'foreigner' as the local MP".[3] In parliament, Dhanda became a member of the Science and Technology Select Committee from his election until 2003. He helped set up an all-party group on Telecommunications, of which he was Secretary. In December 2004, he was appointed Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Minister for Schools Stephen Twigg.

In 2003, Dhanda was asked by the Prime Minister to second the Queens Humble Address to the Houses of Parliament.

Dhanda retained his seat in 2005 with an increased majority of 4,280 votes. After the election, Dhanda was appointed to the post of Assistant Government Whip.[4] In May 2006, he was appointed Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children, Young People and Families in the Department for Education and Skills.[4][5] In this post, he implemented the Green Paper 'Care Matters', introducing radical new measures of support for 30,000 children in the care system.[citation needed] On 28 June 2007, he became Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government[4] with responsibility for the fire and rescue service, community cohesion and planning.[6][7] He was replaced by Sadiq Khan on 6 Oct 2008.[8]

In 2009, he fought a campaign to be Speaker of the House of Commons, obtaining 4.4% of the votes in the first ballot.[9][10]

At the speaker's conference in October 2009, Dhanda criticised the way that all 23 of Gordon Brown's cabinet were White, whereas Tony Blair's last cabinet had two "ethnic minority" cabinet ministers.[11] Brown pointed out that he had a Black Attorney General (Baroness Scotland) and an Asian Minister of State for Transport (Sadiq Khan) who sat around the Cabinet table (though only when their ministerial responsibilities are on the agenda).[11]

At the 2010 general election, Dhanda lost his seat to Richard Graham of the Conservative Party. The Telegraph (Calcutta) reported that in December 2010, Dhanda decided to retire from politics, moving from Gloucester to London. He did not seek re-election at the 2015 general election.[12]

After the 2010 general election, he became a non-executive director of Hanover Housing Association - an association specialising in housing and support for the elderly and as Parliamentary and Campaigns Officer for the Prospect Trade Union.

In 2014, he commissioned research which was published in The Guardian about the lack of representation of BME communities in the Houses of Parliament.[13] In 2015, Dhanda published his political memoirs, My Political Race, An Outsider's Journey to the Heart of British Politics.[1][12][14]


  1. ^ a b c Vijay Riyait (1 June 2015). "My Political Race". Progress Online. Retrieved 9 July 2016.
  2. ^ a b c "Parmjit Dhanda". Biteback Publishing. Retrieved 18 September 2017.
  3. ^ House of Commons Hansard Debates for 27 Jun 2001 (pt 25)
  4. ^ a b c "Parmjit Dhanda: Former MP, Gloucester, profile",, TheyWorkForYou, retrieved 21 May 2017
  5. ^ Department for Education and Skills Ministerial Team, Department for Education and Skills, archived from the original on 9 December 2006, retrieved 22 May 2017
  6. ^ "Minister's profiles: Parmjit Dhanda MP",, Department for Communities and Local Government, archived from the original on 19 September 2012
  7. ^ "Cohesion Minister outlines priorities on race equality, Communities and Local Government News Release 2007/0148",, Department for Communities and Local Government, 7 August 2007, archived from the original on 19 September 2012
  8. ^ "Sadiq Khan, Former MP, Tooting, profile",, TheyWorkForYou, retrieved 21 May 2017
  9. ^ "Labour MP Dhanda in Speaker bid". BBC News. 10 June 2009. Retrieved 9 July 2016.
  10. ^ Sparrow, Andrew (22 June 2009). "Commons Speaker contest: election day blog – live". The Guardian. UK. Retrieved 22 June 2009.
  11. ^ a b By Channel 4 News (20 October 2009), FactCheck: an all-white cabinet?, Channel 4, retrieved 21 May 2017
  12. ^ a b "Journey of a cleaner's son". The Telegraph. Calcutta. 10 May 2015. Retrieved 9 July 2016.
  13. ^ Rajeev Syal, Ami Sedghi (31 July 2014). "Parliament failing to represent UK's ethnic diversity". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 July 2016.
  14. ^ Parmjit Dhanda (2015). My Political Race: An Outsider's Journey to the Heart of British Politics. Biteback Publishing. ISBN 978-1849548069.

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Tess Kingham
Member of Parliament for Gloucester
Succeeded by
Richard Graham
Political offices
Preceded by
Maria Eagle
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Children, Young People and Families
Succeeded by
Kevin Brennan
Preceded by
Angela Smith
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government
Succeeded by
Sadiq Khan