|The Right Honourable
Sir Simon Burns
Rt Hon Sir Simon Burns MP
|Minister of State for Transport|
4 September 2012 – 4 October 2013
|Prime Minister||David Cameron|
|Preceded by||Theresa Villiers|
|Succeeded by||Susan, Baroness Kramer|
|Minister of State for Health Services|
12 May 2010 – 4 September 2012
|Prime Minister||David Cameron|
|Preceded by||Mike O'Brien|
|Succeeded by||Dr Daniel Poulter|
|Member of Parliament
West Chelmsford (1997–2010)
11 June 1987
|Preceded by||Norman St John-Stevas|
6 September 1952 |
Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, England
|Spouse(s)||Emma Clifford (1982-2000; divorced); 2 children|
|Alma mater||Worcester College, Oxford|
Burns resigned from being Minister of State for Transport in October 2013 to stand in the First Deputy Chairmen of Ways and Means by-election following the resignation of Deputy Speaker Nigel Evans.
Early life and education
Born on 6 September 1952 in Nottingham, Burns was educated at Christ the King School in Accra, then Stamford School in Lincolnshire, before going up to Worcester College, Oxford to read Modern History, graduating with a BA (Hons) (Third-class honours, resulting in his nickname "third degree burns") in 1975. He has also received an Honorary Doctorate of Philosophy (Hon. PhD) from Anglia Ruskin University.
Burns cites following the Kennedy administration in the early 1960s as the point where he became interested in politics, saying “As you looked around the world you had a prime minister in Britain who was about 69, a president in France in his mid-70s and a chancellor in West Germany in his 80s. He [Kennedy] had a glamorous family, and conveyed the impression that you could actually do something in politics to improve the lives of citizens. I thought that was cool, and decided that public service would be fantastic.”
Between attending Stamford and Oxford, Burns spent nine months in the United States working for Senator George McGovern's ultimately unsuccessful presidential campaign against President Richard Nixon in 1972. Following the Watergate scandal and Nixon's subsequent resignation in 1974, Burns would comment that McGovern's campaign had "won the argument, even if we lost the vote."
From 1975-80, Burns was political adviser to Rt Hon Sally Oppenheim (now Baroness Oppenheim-Barnes). From 1980–83 he was a journalist and served as a director of What To Buy for Business magazine, before being appointed from 1983–87 to the Institute of Directors Policy Executive.
He has been active in politics since 1970, when he was a founder member of the Rutland and Stamford Young Conservatives, having been founding chairman of 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 for Southfields Ward and an executive council member of Putney Conservative Association.
In 1983, he was Conservative candidate in Alyn and Deeside (Flintshire, Wales) where he reduced Labour's majority from 6,800 to 1,368. In 1986, he was elected Chairman of Avonmore Ward, Fulham Conservative Association.
At 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. At 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 2007, Burns persuaded the House of Commons Administration Committee, then being a member, that parliamentarians should have "priority access" to services within the Parliamentary Estate. In practice, this meant that MPs and Peers 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.
On 3 April 2008, Burns was involved in a collision with a cyclist as he drove his 4x4 out of the Palace of Westminster gates 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 have hindered 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.
In June 2010, Burns was forced to issue what one journalist described as "a grovelling apology" after calling Commons Speaker John Bercow a "stupid sanctimonious dwarf". 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.
In January 2013, Burns, when the minister overseeing rail fares, was revealed as having been making use of a ministerial car instead of travelling the 35 miles from his home in Essex to London by train. He claimed this was because he was not allowed to read sensitive papers on the train, but his claim was immediately contradicted by the Cabinet Office, although it was conceded that reading Red box material in such an environment was not advisable. The cost to the taxpayer was estimated to be £80,000 per annum.
Burns was married to Emma Clifford from 1982 until their divorce in 2000; they have two children.
Despite his conservative views, Burns is a "proud" supporter of the more liberal-leaning U.S. Democratic Party. Citing the big tent nature of American political parties, he argues "You can't just say that, because you’re a British Conservative, so you have to be a [U.S.] Republican. American politics isn’t contained in that way. Turn the clock back to the 1970s, and the Democrat Party went from the liberal Kennedy wing right through to the out-and-out racists in the Southern states. The Republican Party had its liberal wing – people like John Lindsay, Chuck Percy and Nelson Rockefeller."
- "Rail minister Simon Burns stands down in deputy speaker bid". BBC News. 4 October 2013.
- "A Conservative Democrat: Simon Burns interview". totalpolitics.com.
- Debrett's People of Today
- 2015 general election results, bbc.co.uk; accessed 12 May 2015.
- 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.
- 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.
- Moore, Matthew (3 February 2009). "Tory MP fined over Parliament car crash". London, UK: The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 21 May 2010.
- Kirsty Walker (30 June 2010). "Minister’s apology to Dwarves after branding speaker a ‘stupid sanctimonious dwarf’". London: Daily Mail. Retrieved 1 July 2010.
- "Simon Burns MP likening 38 Degrees members to "Zombies" in House of Commons". Retrieved 23 November 2011.
- "Open letter to Simon Burns". Retrieved 23 November 2011.
- Owen, Glen (5 January 2013). "Article in Mail on Sunday". Daily Mail (London, UK). Retrieved 5 January 2013.
- 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).
- The London Gazette: . 13 June 2015. Retrieved 13 June 2015.
- Simon Burns MP Official constituency website
- Chelmsford Conservative Association
- Profile at Parliament of the United Kingdom
- Contributions in Parliament at Hansard 1803–2005
- Current session contributions in Parliament at Hansard
- Voting record at Public Whip
- Record in Parliament at TheyWorkForYou
- Profile at Westminster Parliamentary Record
- Profile at BBC News Democracy Live
- Upset in 2002 over awards of five new cities, bbc.co.uk
- 2005 Election Result: West Chelmsford, bbc.co.uk
- Previous General Election Results, Chelmsfordbc.gov.uk
Media related to Simon Burns at Wikimedia Commons
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
Norman St John-Stevas
Member of Parliament for Chelmsford
|Constituency abolished; recreated in 2010|
|New constituency||Member of Parliament for Chelmsford West
|New constituency||Member of Parliament for Chelmsford