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The Right Honourable
 Ben Bradshaw 

Assumed office 
5 June 2009
Prime Minister Gordon Brown
Preceded by Andrew Burnham

Member of Parliament
for Exeter
Assumed office 
1 May 1997
Preceded by John Hannam
Majority 7,665 (13.9%)

Born 30 August 1960 (1960-08-30) (age 49)
Westminster, United Kingdom
Political party Labour
Domestic partner Neal Dalgleish
Alma mater University of Sussex
University of Freiburg

Benjamin Peter James Bradshaw (born 30 August 1960) is a British Labour politician, who has been the Member of Parliament for Exeter since 1997, and currently serves in the Cabinet as Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.



The son of an Anglican vicar at Norwich Cathedral, Bradshaw was educated at the Thorpe St Andrew High School (Norwich) and the University of Sussex where he was awarded a degree in German. He also attended the University of Freiburg. In 1982/83 he taught English at the Technikum, a school of technology in Winterthur (Switzerland). He became a reporter with the Exeter Express and Echo in 1984 and was appointed as a reporter with the Eastern Daily Press in Norwich in 1985. In 1986 he joined the BBC as reporter with BBC Radio Devon. In 1989 he became the award winning Berlin correspondent with BBC Radio and was serving in the city at the time of the fall of the Berlin Wall. He became a reporter in 1991 with BBC Radio's The World At One programme, where he stayed until his election to Westminster. He won the Sony News Reporter Award in 1993.

Bradshaw was selected to contest the marginal parliamentary seat of Exeter at the 1997 General Election after the first choice candidate, John Lloyd, was deselected by the local Labour party on instructions from Labour HQ. The sitting Conservative MP, John Hannam had retired and the Conservatives chose Adrian Rogers to be their candidate. This created a very interesting election campaign, Bradshaw an openly gay man, and Rogers a leading member of the religious right. The campaign was vitriolic and bitter with allegations of homophobia and sin. The result, however was not close, and Bradshaw was elected as the Labour MP for Exeter with a majority of 11,705. He made his maiden speech on 4 July 1997.

In Parliament Bradshaw introduced the Pesticides Act in 1998,[1] which gave more powers to inspectors. He became a Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Minister of State at the Department of Health John Denham in 2000. After the 2001 General Election Bradshaw entered Tony Blair's government as the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Only days after being appointed to the Foreign Office he had to answer questions following the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001. On March 6, 2002, while answering Parliamentary Questions, Bradshaw accused George Galloway of "being not just an apologist but a mouthpiece for the Iraqi regime over many years". Galloway responded by accusing Bradshaw of being a liar, though after a suspension of the Commons sitting, both men withdrew their comments.[2]

Bradshaw became the Deputy to the Leader of the House of Commons Robin Cook in 2002, and was an Under Secretary of State at the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs from 2003 until 2006, when he was made a Minister of State at the same department. On 28 June 2007 he was moved to become a Minister of State in the Department of Health and was also given the responsibility of being Minister for the South West.

His support for the Iraq War proved unpopular amongst many in a seat with a high student population.


Health Minister

Mr. Bradshaw has been the subject of a good deal of controversy as a Minister for Health. His responses to questioning on Radio 4 about the shortfall in NHS dentistry leading to patients unable to access NHS dentists and even resorting to treating themselves was to claim that those needing urgent treatment should go to see their GP,[3] prompting the British Medical Association to observe that a General Practitioner was no substitute for a qualified dentist.[4]

He also claimed that GPs were operating "gentleman's agreements" to ensure patients didn't move between surgeries, claims dismissed as "absolute nonsense" by doctors' leaders.[5]

On the subject of the National Programme for IT, a scheme dogged by cost overruns, failing public confidence, delays, and doubts over its benefit to patients,[6][7] he commented: "Our use of computer technology in the NHS is becoming the envy of the world. It is saving lives, saving time and saving money. If you talk to health and IT experts anywhere in the world they point to Britain as example of computer technology being used successfully to improve health services to the public."[8]

He has also been criticised for defending[9] car parking fees at NHS hospitals at a time when Wales were removing parking fees.[10] The BMA called such charges "a tax on the sick"[10], and questioned the legitimacy of trusts making up to £248,000 a month in parking fees.[11] Bradshaw's claims that such charges were necessary to pay for patient care were dismissed by a shadow health spokesman, who commented that it did "not add up" for the government to make such claims in the light of an NHS surplus of £1.8bn.[12]

His plan to introduce private management of some NHS trusts was also heavily criticised. The BMA called it a step towards privatising the NHS, Dr. Jonathan Fielden observed that there was no evidence private management was better than public sector management, commenting "How many of us have seen our Trusts bring in the management consultants, paying through the nose, only to get a half baked solution and one that the real talent in the NHS could have delivered for less?", Professor Allyson Pollock, head of the Centre for International Public Health Policy at the University of Edinburgh, said: "Bringing private management in will simply accelerate the process of privatisation of services which will have catastrophic effects for the patients and the public at large. It will mean less care for everyone, and more money for profits and shareholders.", while Nigel Edwards of the NHS Confederation, said the government had tried drafting in private sector management unsuccessfully before - at the Good Hope Hospital in Sutton Coldfield in 2003: "What it revealed is that the reason that hospitals tend to fail is often much more complicated and much more difficult than just poor management."[13]

It was claimed in May 2009 that he exploited the MPs' expenses system by claiming the entire interest bill on a property he shares with his partner in west London.[14]. Bradshaw has said claims made about his expenses were factually wrong.[15]

In 2009 he won "Politician of the Year" at the annual Stonewall Awards[16].

Personal life

When first elected in 1997, Ben Bradshaw was one of the first MPs to be openly gay at the time he was initially elected, along with Stephen Twigg. On 24 June 2006, he and his partner Neal Dalgleish, who is a BBC producer,[17] registered a civil partnership. It is sometimes thought that Bradshaw was the first MP to enter into a civil partnership; [18] however, he was preceded by David Borrow in May 2006 [19] [20] . His brother is Jonathan Bradshaw, CBE, Professor of Social Policy at the University of York.


  1. ^ "Pesticides Act 1998 (c. 26)". Retrieved 2008-07-03.  
  2. ^ Ben Russell "PARLIAMENT & POLITICS; FOREIGN POLICY - Angry scenes as minister...", The Independent, 7 March 2002, as reproduced on the "Find Articles" website. Retrieved on 21 March 2008.
  3. ^ "Patients turn to DIY dentistry as the crisis in NHS care deepens". The Daily Mail. Retrieved 2008-07-03.  
  4. ^ "GPs Cannot Fill The Gaps In The NHS Dental Service, Says BMA, UK". 2007-10-17. Retrieved 2008-07-03.  
  5. ^ "Minister says GPs blocking choice". BBC NEWS. 2008-07-03. Retrieved 2008-07-03.  
  6. ^ "Patients 'won't benefit from £12bn IT project' - Telegraph". 2007-04-17. Retrieved 2008-05-29.  
  7. ^ "DoH: The NPfIT in the NHS - twentieth report of session 2006-2007". Retrieved 2008-05-31.  
  8. ^ "UK is shining example of IT use".$1212561$1212511.htm. Retrieved 2008-07-03.  
  9. ^ "NHS car parking 'sour grapes' row". BBC News. 2008-03-03. Retrieved 2008-07-03.  
  10. ^ a b "NHS parking in Wales to be free". BBC NEWS. 2008-03-03. Retrieved 2008-07-03.  
  11. ^ "Nottingham Evening Post: Hospital car parks are 'taxing the ill'". The TaxPayers' Alliance. 2008-06-13. Retrieved 2008-07-03.  
  12. ^ "£1.8bn surplus forecast for NHS after cutbacks in patient care". London: The Times. 2008-03-04. Retrieved 2008-07-03.  
  13. ^ "Firms 'to run failing NHS trusts'". BBC News. 2008-06-04. Retrieved 2008-07-03.  
  14. ^ "MPs' expenses: Four ministers who milked the system". Daily Telegraph. 2009-05-09. Retrieved 2009-05-09.  
  15. ^ "Fresh MP expense claims published". BBC News. 2009-05-09. Retrieved 2009-05-09.  
  16. ^
  17. ^ "Minister announces gay 'wedding'". BBC News. 2006-03-08. Retrieved 2008-07-03.  
  18. ^ "First gay MP wed". Sunday Mirror. 2006-06-25. Retrieved 2008-07-02.  
  19. ^ Shoffman, Marc (2006-05-08). "Lancashire politician becomes first MP to have gay marriage". Pink News. Retrieved 2008-04-23.  
  20. ^ Miller, Emily (2006-05-10). "MP IS FIRST TO MARRY GAY LOVER". Mirror. Retrieved 2009-05-10.  

External links

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
John Hannam
Member of Parliament for Exeter
Political offices
Preceded by
Andrew Burnham
Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

Simple English

Benjamin Peter James Bradshaw (born 30 August 1960) is an English politician and the Member of Parliament for the Exeter constituency in the United Kingdom. He was elected in the 1997 general election.

He was a Minister of State in the Department of Health, a Minister for the South West and Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, but holds no posts in the current shadow government.

He was one of the first openly gay MPs.

He is a member of the Labour Party.


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