Jeffrey William Rooker, Baron Rooker PC (born 5 June 1941) is a British Labour Party politician, who served as Member of Parliament (MP) for Birmingham Perry Barr from 1974 until 2001, and served as a government minister from 1997 until 2001. He was later appointed to the House of Lords, where he continued to serve in the government under several portfolios until 2008.
Rooker resigned the Labour whip in 2009 after being appointed Chair of the Food Standards Agency. He sat as an Independent member in the House of Lords until 2013 when, standing down as Chair of the FSA, he took up the Labour whip once again.
Early life and career
The son of a factory worker, Jeff Rooker attended Aldridge Road Secondary Modern Boys School (now called Great Barr School), Aldridge Road, Great Barr. He later attended Handsworth Technical School and College (later known as City College Handsworth), Goldshill Road, Handsworth. He initially trained as a production engineer, working in various factories in and around Birmingham for 14 years and then became a lecturer on the subject at Lanchester Polytechnic.
Rooker is an alumnus of Aston University in the city of Birmingham, and was awarded an honorary doctorate in 2001, he served as Editor of the Birmingham Student Union News (SUN) from 1963 until 1964. He also has a post-graduate degree from the University of Warwick in Industrial Relations. In 1966, he was an unsuccessful candidate for membership of Birmingham City Council.
Rooker achieved a measure of national prominence in June 1977 while still a backbencher. With fellow MP Audrey Wise, he introduced the so-called Rooker–Wise Amendment to the Budget. This linked personal tax allowances to the rate of inflation, thereby preventing the erosion of non-taxable income. The BBC has described the amendment as "a rare example of direct backbench influence on the Budget".
After Tony Blair led Labour to power in the 1997 general election, Rooker served as Minister of State for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. In July 1999, he was moved to the Department of Social Security where he served as Minister of State for Pensions. He was made a Privy Counsellor in 1999.
Rooker stood down as an MP at the 2001 general election and was created a life peer on 16 June 2001 with the title Baron Rooker, of Perry Barr in the County of the West Midlands. As a member of the House of Lords, he was re-appointed to the government as the Minister of State for Asylum and Immigration and remained in the post for a year. He then was moved to the Department for Communities and Local Government, where he served as Minister of State for Housing and Planning, then subsequently Minister of State for Regeneration and Regional Development.
On 6 May 2006, Rooker was appointed Minister of State for Sustainable Food, Farming and Animal Health at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. He was a controversial choice as minister responsible for animal welfare due to his well-known pro-hunting views. In 2007, following Rooker's appointment, numerous complaints from animal welfare campaigners were sent to the Labour Party. He later also became deputy leader of the House of Lords. He retained both these roles when Gordon Brown became Labour leader and Prime Minister in 2007 but stood down in October 2008.
Rooker is a vice president of The Birmingham Civic Society. As of January 2008, he is a lay governor of Aston University. In July 2009 he was appointed as Chair of the Food Standards Agency and resigned the Labour party whip for the duration until he ceased to be Chair in 2013.
He married Angela Edwards in 1972 in Paddington, London. He was widowed in January 2003. He married second wife Helen Hughes on 5 February 2010 in a private ceremony in Christchurch, New Zealand. He has two stepchildren, Alexander and Morwenna.
- Leigh Rayment's Peerage Pages [self-published source][better source needed]
- Leigh Rayment's Historical List of MPs
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