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William Ernest Rammell (born 10 October 1959) is a British Labour Party politician, who was the Member of Parliament (MP) for Harlow from 1997 to 2010, and served as a Minister of State in several departments from 2002 until his defeat in 2010 to the Conservative candidate, Robert Halfon. In August 2012 he took up his new role as Vice-Chancellor of the University of Bedfordshire.

Bill Rammell
Bill Rammell.jpg
Vice-Chancellor of the University of Bedfordshire
Assumed office
August 2012
ChancellorJohn Bercow
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
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 59)
Political partyLabour
Spouse(s)Beryl Jarhall
Alma materCardiff University


Personal lifeEdit

Rammell went to Burnt Mill Comprehensive on First Avenue in Harlow. 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 NUS.

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


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


Rammell has held the following positions:

  • 2002 – Assistant Government Whip
  • 2002–2005 – Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office
  • 2005–2008 – Minister of State for Higher Education
  • 2008–2009 – Minister of State at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office
  • 2009–2010 – Minister of State for the Armed Forces

In the 2005 election, he had the 3rd smallest majority of any Labour MP, at just 97 votes. The result was so close that the final declaration had to be delayed 2 days after voting, to give exhausted counting officials time to rest.

As Higher Education Minister, Rammell was strongly supportive of top-up fees claiming in 2005 that without such fees it would be necessary to put "3p or 4p on the standard rate of tax".[1] He elsewhere provided a different estimate stating that to replace the income from top-up fees, estimated by the government to be £1.4 billion.,[2] would necessitate a requirement "to put up income tax by 3%"[3] The amount raised by the UK in income tax in 2003–2004 was £120 billion.[4] In September 2007 he withdrew funding from some adult and continuing education in UK universities.

Rammell is a Pro-European, who is supportive of joining the Single European Currency, as verified by his time as Chair of Labour Movement for Europe. He was the first British government minister to visit North Korea, in September 2004.

In February 2008, Bill Rammell announced plans[5] to create a "national" database of children's school records and exam results which will make up a publicly owned CV. The CV and "Learner Number" will stay with the child throughout adult life until retirement and only the British government will be able to remove records from their database entry. The plan will, however, only apply to English children as education is a devolved matter.

Rammell worked for Plymouth University as Deputy Vice-Chancellor with responsibility for the student experience, and internationalisation.

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

On 13 April 2012 it was announced that 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. Rammell replaced Les Ebdon, who retired from the VC post at Bedfordshire and took up a new position as Director of Fair Access to Higher Education at the Office for Fair Access (OFFA).

Talks with LibyaEdit

In September 2009, Rammell confirmed he had told Libya that the Prime Minister did not want to see the Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi (who had been serving a life sentence) die in prison.[6]

Voting recordEdit

How Rammell voted on key issues since 2001:[7]

  • 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. ^ "Rammell's mission to explain fees". BBC News online. 3 October 2005. Retrieved 23 December 2008.
  2. ^ Price of failure more than £10bn, v-cs warn
  3. ^ Devoted to debt
  4. ^$366599.htm
  5. ^ "Anger over pupils database plan". BBC News online. 13 February 2008. Archived from the original on 17 February 2008. Retrieved 14 February 2008.
  6. ^ "No bomber release cover-up – PM". BBC News online. 2 September 2009. Retrieved 2 September 2009.
  7. ^ They Work For You

External linksEdit