Stephen Timms

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The Right Honourable
Stephen Timms
Stephen Timms portrait.jpg
Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
In office
8 June 2015 – 13 September 2015
Leader Harriet Harman (Acting)
Preceded by Rachel Reeves
Succeeded by Owen Smith
Shadow Minister for Employment
In office
8 October 2010 – 13 September 2015
Leader Ed Miliband
Harriet Harman (Acting)
Preceded by Mark Hoban
Succeeded by Emily Thornberry
Minister of State for Competitiveness
In office
12 July 2007 – 11 May 2010
Prime Minister Gordon Brown
Preceded by Position established
Succeeded by Position abolished
Financial Secretary to the Treasury
In office
5 October 2008 – 11 May 2010
Prime Minister Gordon Brown
Preceded by Jane Kennedy
Succeeded by Mark Hoban
In office
12 September 2004 – 6 May 2005
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Preceded by Ruth Kelly
Succeeded by John Healey
In office
29 July 1999 – 8 June 2001
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Preceded by Barbara Roche
Succeeded by Paul Boateng
Chief Secretary to the Treasury
In office
5 May 2006 – 28 June 2007
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Preceded by Des Browne
Succeeded by Andy Burnham
Minister of State for Pensions
In office
6 May 2005 – 5 May 2006
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Preceded by Malcolm Wicks
Succeeded by James Purnell
In office
23 December 1998 – 29 July 1999
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Preceded by John Denham
Succeeded by Jeff Rooker
Minister of State for Schools
In office
11 June 2001 – 24 October 2002
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Preceded by Estelle Morris
Succeeded by David Miliband
Member of Parliament
for East Ham
Newham North East (1994–1997)
Assumed office
9 June 1994
Preceded by Ron Leighton
Majority 27,826 (55.2%)
Personal details
Born (1955-07-29) 29 July 1955 (age 60)
Oldham, England
Political party Labour
Spouse(s) Hui-Leng Lim (1986–present)
Alma mater Emmanuel College, Cambridge
Website Official website

Stephen Creswell Timms (born 29 July 1955) is a British Labour Party politician who has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for East Ham since 1997. Timme had retained the earlier Newham North East seat for his party at the 1994 byelection. Timms served in the Government for several periods, as the Financial Secretary to the Treasury from 1999 to 2001, 2004 to 2005, and 2008 to 2010. He was also in the Cabinet from 2006 to 2007 as the Chief Secretary to the Treasury from 2006 to 2007.[1][2] With a majority of 27,826 at the 2010 general election, Timms had the largest vote share of any sitting MP gaining 70.4% of the local vote.[2][3] On 14 May 2010, he survived a murder attempt made by a constituent, Roshonara Choudhry.

He returned to the backbenches in September 2015 after being offered a junior treasury job by his party leader, Jeremy Corbyn.[4]

Early life[edit]

Timms was born in Oldham, Lancashire, to Ronald James Timms, an engineer, and Margaret Joyce Timms, a teacher.[5][6] He was educated at Farnborough Grammar School in Farnborough, Hampshire, and read Mathematics at Emmanuel College, Cambridge where he gained a degree in Mathematics in 1977 and an MPhil in Operational Research in 1978.[7]

Before entering politics, Timms worked in the telecommunications industry for 15 years, first for Logica from 1978–86 and then for Ovum from 1986–94, where he worked as a manager responsible for producing reports on the future of telecommunications. Timms was elected as a councillor for the Little Ilford Ward on Newham London Borough Council in a by-election in 1984, and served as Leader of the Council from 1990 to 1994.[7]

Member of Parliament[edit]

In June 1994, Timms was elected to Parliament as MP for Newham North East. For the next election, his constituency was merged with part of Newham South, and in May 1997 he was elected MP for the resulting new constituency of East Ham.[7][8]

In government[edit]

Timms served as Parliamentary Private Secretary to Andrew Smith from May 1997 to March 1998, and later to Mo Mowlam from March to July 1998.

In 1998, Timms was appointed Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department of Social Security, rising to Minister of State in that department the following year. He served as Minister of State for E-Commerce and Competitiveness and Minister of State for Energy, E-Commerce and Postal Services at the Department of Trade and Industry; Minister of State for School Standards at the Department for Education and Skills; Minister of State for Pensions at the Department for Work and Pensions; and served as Financial Secretary to the Treasury, from 1999 to 2001, September 2004 to May 2005 and October 2008 to May 2010.[7]

Chief Secretary to the Treasury[edit]

In May 2006, Timms was promoted to the Cabinet as Chief Secretary to the Treasury, the Chancellor's second-in-command with responsibility for department budget issues, a post in which he remained until 28 June 2007, when he was dropped from the cabinet by new Prime Minister Gordon Brown.[7] It was later announced that he had been appointed Minister of State for Competitiveness at the newly created Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform.

Minister for Employment and Welfare Reform[edit]

Following the government reshuffle on 24 January 2008, a result of the resignation of Peter Hain, Timms moved to the Department for Work and Pensions and became Minister for Employment and Welfare Reform.[9]

Financial Secretary to the Treasury[edit]

Tony McNulty replaced Timms on 3 October 2008, and he returned to his former role as Financial Secretary to the Treasury.[7]

In August 2009, Timms was given additional responsibility for Digital Britain.[10] In September 2009, he announced plans for a tax of £6 per year to be levied on each phone account in the UK. At the time, this was broadly characterised as a stealth tax in the UK media. In April 2010, Timms' department made an embarrassing slip when a letter purporting to be from him mistakenly identified IP address as "intellectual property address".[11] According to the accountants' magazine Accountancy Age, he was highly regarded by finance professionals despite such gaffes.[12]

In Opposition[edit]

Timms was appointed to the role of Shadow Minister for Employment after the election of Ed Miliband as party leader.

It was rumoured that Timms is one of three ministers who threatened to resign from his front bench position if the Labour Party did not grant a free vote on the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013.[13] Timms voted against the bill

Murder attempt[edit]

On 14 May 2010, Timms was approached by 21-year-old Islamist Roshonara Choudhry, during a constituency surgery at the Beckton Globe Library in Kingsford Way, Beckton, East London.[14][15] Choudhry stabbed Timms twice in the abdomen with a 15 cm (6-inch) kitchen knife, before being disarmed.[16][17][18] She stated that she had been influenced by watching sermons of Anwar al-Awlaki, a leader of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, and that her attack was to punish Timms for voting for the Iraq War, and seek revenge for the Iraqi people.[19][20]

Timms suffered "potentially life-threatening" wounds – lacerations to his liver and a perforation to his stomach. A police officer at the scene remarked that Timms "was extremely fortunate not to have been killed".[21] He underwent emergency surgery at the Royal London Hospital, from which he was discharged on 19 May.[17][22]

On 2 November, Choudhry was found guilty of Timms' attempted murder. She was subsequently given a life sentence, with a recommendation that she serve a minimum jail term of 15 years.[21] After the court case, Timms said he was not bitter, but that forgiveness was not an issue until his attacker showed remorse. He has since sought the banning of incendiary material on popular internet sites "to protect other vulnerable young people from going down the same road."[23] YouTube removed some videos of al-Awlaki within hours of the sentence.[19][23]

Personal life[edit]

Timms is an evangelical Christian.[24] He has lived in the East London Borough of Newham since 1979 and has been married to Hui-Leng Lim since 1986.[23]


  1. ^ Labour Party: Faith groups. Retrieved 1 November 2010.
  2. ^ a b Seamark, Michael; Faulkner, Katherine (16 May 2010). "Woman charged over stabbing of Labour MP Stephen Timms". London: Daily Mail. Retrieved 12 November 2010. 
  3. ^ Stephen Timms: MP with the safest seat in Commons, Daily Telegraph, 14 May 2010
  4. ^ Murphy-Bates, Sebastian (16 September 2015). "Stephen Timms rejects treasury job in Corbyn’s Labour". Newhaw Recorder. Retrieved 11 November 2015. 
  5. ^ East Ham UK Polling Report
  6. ^ Dod's parliamentary companion guide ... Retrieved 12 November 2010. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f "Stephen Timms: MP with the safest seat in Commons". London: Telegraph. 14 May 2010. Retrieved 11 November 2010. 
  8. ^ "About Stephen". 9 June 1994. Retrieved 12 November 2010. 
  9. ^ "Department for Work and Pensions – Stephen Timms official profile". The National Archives. Archived from the original on 27 July 2008. Retrieved 14 May 2010. 
  10. ^ Timms to lead 'Digital Britain', BBC News, 6 August 2009
  11. ^ Minister for Digital Britain blunders in embarrassing 'IP' slip-up, MediaWeek, 9 April 2010
  12. ^ Accountants storm the Treasury, Accountancy Age, 14 May 2010
  13. ^ Jones, Owen (11 June 2012). "Labour's U-turn on equal marriage: why is equality for minority groups a matter of conscience?". Independent. Retrieved 29 March 2015. 
  14. ^ Woman charged with attempted murder of Labour MP, The Times, 15 May 2010. Retrieved 11 November 2010.
  15. ^ "Former minister Timms stabbed". BBC News. 14 May 2010. Retrieved 14 May 2010. 
  16. ^ Woman, 21, arrested over stabbing of Labour MP, The Independent, 15 May 2010
  17. ^ a b Tom Rawstorne (6 November 2010). "Roshonara Choudhry brainwashed by Al Qaeda into stabbing MP Stephen Timms". London: Retrieved 10 November 2010. 
  18. ^ "Roshonara Choudhary accused of stabbing MP Stephen Timms". London: Daily Mail. 18 May 2010. Retrieved 11 November 2010. 
  19. ^ a b YouTube Withdraws Cleric’s Videos, New York Times, 4 November 2010
  20. ^ "Al-Qaeda leader's tour of Britain 'radicalised a generation of young Muslims'". Oneindia News. Retrieved 8 November 2010. 
  21. ^ a b "Woman jailed for life for attack on MP Stephen Timms". BBC News. 3 November 2010. Retrieved 4 November 2010. 
  22. ^ MP Stephen Timms discharged from London hospital, BBC News, 19 May 2010
  23. ^ a b c Stephen Timms: I don't feel bitter but I'm not ready to forgive my knife attacker, Evening Standard, 4 November 2010. Retrieved 4 November 2010.
  24. ^ Tory backlash against same-sex marriage, The Guardian, 10 December 2012 (retrieved 10 December 2012)

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Ron Leighton
Member of Parliament
for Newham North East

Constituency abolished
New constituency Member of Parliament
for East Ham

Political offices
Preceded by
Barbara Roche
Financial Secretary to the Treasury
Succeeded by
Paul Boateng
Preceded by
Estelle Morris
Minister of State for Schools
Succeeded by
David Miliband
Preceded by
Ruth Kelly
Financial Secretary to the Treasury
Succeeded by
John Healey
Preceded by
Des Browne
Chief Secretary to the Treasury
Succeeded by
Andy Burnham
Preceded by
Jane Kennedy
Financial Secretary to the Treasury
Succeeded by
Mark Hoban
Preceded by
Rachel Reeves
Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

Succeeded by
Owen Smith