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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. He has sat in Parliament since retaining the earlier Newham North East seat for his party at a 1994 by-election. 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.

Stephen Timms
Official portrait of Stephen Timms crop 2.jpg
Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
In office
8 June 2015 – 13 September 2015
LeaderHarriet Harman (Acting)
Preceded byRachel Reeves
Succeeded byOwen Smith
Shadow Minister for Employment
In office
8 October 2010 – 13 September 2015
LeaderEd Miliband
Harriet Harman (Acting)
Preceded byMark Hoban
Succeeded byEmily Thornberry
Minister of State for Competitiveness
In office
12 July 2007 – 11 May 2010
Prime MinisterGordon Brown
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byPosition abolished
Financial Secretary to the Treasury
In office
5 October 2008 – 11 May 2010
Prime MinisterGordon Brown
Preceded byJane Kennedy
Succeeded byMark Hoban
In office
12 September 2004 – 6 May 2005
Prime MinisterTony Blair
Preceded byRuth Kelly
Succeeded byJohn Healey
In office
29 July 1999 – 8 June 2001
Prime MinisterTony Blair
Preceded byBarbara Roche
Succeeded byPaul Boateng
Chief Secretary to the Treasury
In office
5 May 2006 – 28 June 2007
Prime MinisterTony Blair
Preceded byDes Browne
Succeeded byAndy Burnham
Minister of State for Pensions
In office
6 May 2005 – 5 May 2006
Prime MinisterTony Blair
Preceded byMalcolm Wicks
Succeeded byJames Purnell
In office
23 December 1998 – 29 July 1999
Prime MinisterTony Blair
Preceded byJohn Denham
Succeeded byJeff Rooker
Minister of State for Schools
In office
11 June 2001 – 24 October 2002
Prime MinisterTony Blair
Preceded byEstelle Morris
Succeeded byDavid Miliband
Member of Parliament
for East Ham
Newham North East (1994–1997)
In office
9 June 1994 – 6 November 2019
Preceded byRon Leighton
Succeeded byElection in progress
Majority39,883 (70.4%)
Personal details
Stephen Creswell Timms

(1955-07-29) 29 July 1955 (age 64)
Oldham, England
Political partyLabour
Hui-Leng Lim (m. 1986)
Alma materEmmanuel College, Cambridge

He was also in the Cabinet from 2006 to 2007 as the Chief Secretary to the Treasury from 2006 to 2007.[1] At the 2017 general election, Timms' majority increased to almost 40,000 votes, making his the sixth safest seat in the UK, with 83.2% of the vote.[2]

In May 2010, Timms survived an attempted murder by Islamic terrorist Roshonara Choudhry who stabbed him twice in the abdomen at his constituency surgery. His attacker was convicted of attempted murder and sentenced to life imprisonment.

He returned to the backbenches in September 2015, after being offered a junior Treasury job by his party leader Jeremy Corbyn.[3]

Early lifeEdit

Timms was born in Oldham, Lancashire, to Ronald James Timms, an engineer, and Margaret Joyce Timms, a teacher.[4][5] 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.[6]

Before entering politics, Timms worked in the telecommunications industry for 15 years, first for Logica from 1978 to 1986, and then for Ovum from 1986 to 1994, where he worked as a manager responsible for producing reports on the future of telecommunications. He 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.[6]

Member of ParliamentEdit

The Labour MP for Newham North East, Ron Leighton, died in February 1994. Timms was selected as the Labour candidate for the resulting by-election in June 1994. He won the seat with 75% of the votes.

For the next election, his constituency was merged with part of Newham South, and at the general election in May 1997 Timms was elected MP for the resulting new constituency of East Ham.[6][7]

In governmentEdit

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.[6]

Chief Secretary to the TreasuryEdit

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.[6] 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 ReformEdit

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.[8]

Financial Secretary to the TreasuryEdit

Tony McNulty replaced Timms on 3 October 2008, who returned to his former role as Financial Secretary to the Treasury.[6]

In August 2009, Timms was given additional responsibility for Digital Britain.[9] 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".[10] According to the accountants' magazine Accountancy Age, he was highly regarded by finance professionals despite such gaffes.[11]

In oppositionEdit

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 was one of three shadow 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.[12] Timms later abstained on the bill.[13][14]

He supported Owen Smith in the failed attempt to replace Jeremy Corbyn in the 2016 Labour Party (UK) leadership election.[15]

Murder attemptEdit

On 14 May 2010, Timms was approached by 21-year-old female Islamist extremist Roshonara Choudhry, during a constituency surgery at the Beckton Globe Library in Kingsford Way, Beckton, East London.[16][17] Choudhry stabbed Timms twice in the abdomen with a 15 cm (6-inch) kitchen knife, before being disarmed.[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][21]

He 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".[22] Timms underwent emergency surgery at the Royal London Hospital, from which he was discharged on 19 May.[23]

On 2 November 2010, 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.[22] After the court case, Timms said he was not bitter, but that forgiveness was not an issue because his attacker showed no 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."[24] YouTube removed some videos of al-Awlaki within hours of the sentence.[19][24]

Personal lifeEdit

Timms is an evangelical Christian.[25] He has lived in the London Borough of Newham since 1979, and has been married to Hui-Leng Lim since 1986.[24]


  1. ^ Labour Party: Faith groups Archived 1 January 2011 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 1 November 2010.
  2. ^ "East Ham parliamentary constituency - Election 2017". BBC News – via
  3. ^ Murphy-Bates, Sebastian (16 September 2015). "Stephen Timms rejects treasury job in Corbyn's Labour". Newhaw Recorder. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  4. ^ East Ham UK Polling Report
  5. ^ Passmore, Valerie (2005). Dod's parliamentary companion guide ... ISBN 9780905702575. Retrieved 12 November 2010.
  6. ^ a b c d e f "Stephen Timms: MP with the safest seat in Commons". London: Telegraph. 14 May 2010. Retrieved 11 November 2010.
  7. ^ "About Stephen". 9 June 1994. Retrieved 12 November 2010.
  8. ^ "Department for Work and Pensions – Stephen Timms official profile". The National Archives. Archived from the original on 27 July 2008. Retrieved 14 May 2010.
  9. ^ Timms to lead 'Digital Britain', BBC News, 6 August 2009
  10. ^ Minister for Digital Britain blunders in embarrassing 'IP' slip-up, MediaWeek, 9 April 2010
  11. ^ Accountants storm the Treasury Archived 17 May 2010 at the Wayback Machine, Accountancy Age, 14 May 2010
  12. ^ 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.
  13. ^ Edwards, Peter (5 February 2013). "How will each Labour MP vote on Equal Marriage?". LabourList. Retrieved 16 June 2016.
  14. ^ Sparrow, Andrew (6 February 2013). "MPs vote in favour of gay marriage: Politics live blog". the Guardian. Retrieved 16 June 2016.
  15. ^ Smith, Mikey; Bloom, Dan (20 July 2016). "Which MPs are nominating Owen Smith in the Labour leadership contest?". Mirror. Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  16. ^ Woman charged with attempted murder of Labour MP, The Times, 15 May 2010. Retrieved 11 November 2010.
  17. ^ "Former minister Timms stabbed". BBC News. 14 May 2010. Retrieved 14 May 2010.
  18. ^ Woman, 21, arrested over stabbing of Labour MP, The Independent, 15 May 2010
  19. ^ a b YouTube Withdraws Cleric’s Videos, The New York Times, 4 November 2010
  20. ^ "Al-Qaeda leader's tour of Britain 'radicalised a generation of young Muslims'". Oneindia News. 6 November 2010. Retrieved 8 November 2010.
  21. ^ HEGGHAMMER, T., NESSER, P.. Assessing the Islamic State’s Commitment to Attacking the West. Perspectives on Terrorism, North America, 9, jul. 2015. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 7 June 2017.
  22. ^ a b "Woman jailed for life for attack on MP Stephen Timms". BBC News. 3 November 2010. Retrieved 4 November 2010.
  23. ^ MP Stephen Timms discharged from London hospital, BBC News, 19 May 2010
  24. ^ 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.
  25. ^ Tory backlash against same-sex marriage, The Guardian, 10 December 2012 (retrieved 10 December 2012)

External linksEdit

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

Succeeded by
Election in progress
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