Top-up fees fan makes comeback

July 6, 2007

John Denham was a Home Office minister tipped for higher things when he resigned from the Government over the war in Iraq.

But during four years on the back benches he has won praise as chairman of the influential Home Affairs Committee.

Mr Denham was elected as MP for Southampton Itchen in 1992, following 12 years as a local councillor. His first government post came in 1997.

He rose rapidly through the ranks after his appointment as Parliamentary Undersecretary of State at the Department of Social Security, being promoted in a year to a Minister of State in the department before becoming Minister of Health.

In June 2001 he became second in command at the Home Office, overseeing the Police Reform Act's passage through Parliament.

He also held a cross-government role as Minister for Children and Young People.

On universities, he has backed the introduction of top-up fees and said there would have been less opposition to them if the reasons behind the move had been better explained. Universities needed more money and it was better for people to contribute an "acceptable" amount than to limit the number of people who could go to university, he said.

In May 2006, Mr Denham called for Tony Blair to stand down within the year, saying that the former Prime Minister had "lost touch" with voters.

Born in 1953 and educated at Woodroffe Comprehensive School, Lyme Regis, Mr Denham studied at Southampton University, where he became president of the Students' Union.

Southampton's higher education sector was celebrating another link to the new Government this week when the chancellor of Southampton Solent University, Admiral Sir Alan West, was made a Home Office Minister for Security, Terrorism and Police.

Imperial College professor of surgery Sir Ara Darzi was named as a Parliamentary Undersecretary in the Department of Health.

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