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Stephen Williams (politician)

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Title: Stephen Williams (politician)  
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Subject: Thangam Debbonaire, Browne Review, Liberal Democrats, List of the first LGBT holders of political offices in the United Kingdom, Stephen Williams
Collection: 1966 Births, Alumni of the University of Bristol, Councillors in Bristol, Councillors in South West England, Gay Politicians, Lgbt Politicians from England, Lgbt Politicians from Wales, Liberal Democrat (Uk) Mps, Living People, Members of the Parliament of the United Kingdom for English Constituencies, People Educated at Mountain Ash Comprehensive School, People from Abercynon, Politics of Bristol, Uk Mps 2005–10, Uk Mps 2010–15
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Stephen Williams (politician)

Stephen Williams
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government
In office
7 October 2013 – 8 May 2015
Leader David Cameron
Preceded by Don Foster
Succeeded by Marcus Jones
Liberal Democrat Shadow Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills
In office
18 December 2007 – 13 May 2010
Leader Nick Clegg
Preceded by Sarah Teather
Succeeded by Vacant
Member of Parliament
for Bristol West
In office
5 May 2005 – 30 March 2015
Preceded by Valerie Davey
Personal details
Born (1966-10-11) 11 October 1966
Mountain Ash, Wales
Nationality British
Political party Liberal Democrat
Alma mater University of Bristol
Occupation Corporate Tax Advisor

Stephen Roy Williams (born 11 October 1966) is a British Liberal Democrat politician who was first elected as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Bristol West in the 2005 general election, and re-elected with an increased majority in May 2010. In October 2013 he joined the Government as a Parliamentary Under Secretary of State in the Department of Communities and Local Government. In May 2015 Williams lost his Bristol West Seat to the Labour Party's Thangam Debbonaire.


  • Early life and education 1
  • Political background 2
  • Government career 3
  • Parliamentary career 4
    • Efforts to reduce smoking 4.1
    • Higher Education and tuition fees 4.2
    • Reducing the voting age 4.3
    • Homophobic bullying and gay marriage 4.4
  • Election results 5
    • Avon and Bristol Councils 5.1
    • General elections 5.2
  • References 6
  • External links 7

Early life and education

Williams grew up in the village of Wales. He attended Mountain Ash Comprehensive School and the University of Bristol, graduating in 1988 with a degree in History. During his first two years he lived in Wills Hall, one of the University's halls of residence, and remains a member of the Wills Hall Association. He qualified as Chartered Tax Adviser and worked for several large firms including PriceWaterhouseCoopers and Grant Thornton.

Political background

Williams was interested in politics from a young age. While at the University of Bristol he was President of the SDP/Liberal society, and an active member of the local SDP branch.[1] He has also served on Avon County and Bristol City Councils, elected as Councillor for the Liberal Democrats' then-stronghold of Cabot ward in 1993 aged 26. He was leader of the Avon Liberal Democrat group from 1995 to 1997. Williams had been the Liberal Democrat candidate for the safe Labour seat of Bristol South in 1997, before being selected to stand for Bristol West at the 2001 general election. Williams won Bristol West in 2005, making him the first Liberal MP ever for that constituency and the first to be elected in the city of Bristol since 1935. He was also the first openly gay Liberal Democrat MP.[2]

Government career

In October 2013, Williams was appointed Parliamentary Under Secretary at Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG). As Minister for Communities, his responsibilities include community cohesion, race relations, localism and community rights, housing standards, building regulations and neighborhood planning.[3] As the Liberal Democrat minister in DCLG he has oversight of all areas of department policy such as housing, local economic development and planning.

In March 2014, Williams published the Government’s proposals following the housing standards review, which recommended a rationalisation of government, local authority and industry housing standards into a national set.[4] As a result, for the first time there will be a national space standard for the interior of housing.

As Minister for Communities, Williams also announced new funding for promotion of the Cornish language and gave recognition to the people of Cornwall as a national minority on the same basis as the other Celtic people of the British Isles.[5]

Parliamentary career

Williams served as Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Smoking and Health[6] between July 2010 and October 2013. During this time the group published reports on the plain packaging of cigarettes,[7] smoking in cars[8] and the illicit trade in tobacco.[9]

Between 2010 and 2013 he served as the Liberal Democrats' Treasury spokesman in Parliament and to the media.[10] In addition, he has previously served as a member of the House of Commons Political and Constitutional Reform Select Committee[11] and has spoken in favour of replacing the House of Lords with an elected Senate.[12]

Efforts to reduce smoking

After his election on 5 May 2005, Charles Kennedy appointed Williams as Liberal Democrat public health spokesperson, shadowing Minister for Public Health Caroline Flint. In this role he served on the standing committee which scrutinised the Health Bill. One aspect of this Bill was the introduction of a ban on smoking in public places. Williams strongly supported a ban on smoking in all public places, rather than the alternative proposal to exempt private clubs and pubs which do not serve food from the ban. He won an award from Cancer Research UK for his advocacy of a full ban.[13]

Higher Education and tuition fees

In the 2006 Liberal Democrat leadership election Williams was the agent of Chris Huhne.[14] Following the election, newly elected leader Sir Menzies Campbell moved Williams to the Further and Higher Education portfolio, shadowing Labour Minister Bill Rammell. After the reorganisation of government departments by new Prime Minister Gordon Brown in July 2007 Lib Dem Leader Sir Menzies Campbell reshuffled his team and Williams became Lib Dem spokesperson on Schools.

Since his election, Williams has served on two House of Commons select committees — the Education and Skills Select Committee and the Public Accounts Committee. He stepped down as a member of the Public Accounts Committee at the beginning of 2006 following his appointment as Further and Higher Education spokesperson in order to focus more exclusively on his portfolio. He transferred to the new Children, Schools and Families Select Committee in November 2007.

Following the election of Nick Clegg as leader, whom Williams supported against Chris Huhne,[14] Williams became the spokesperson for Innovation, Universities and Skills.

In 2008, Williams wrote an alternative policy proposal that would allow top-up fees as part of his role as spokesperson for universities,[15] but the proposal was rejected by the party's Federal Policy Committee.[16] In December 2010, Williams was one of the Liberal Democrat MPs who abstained on the coalition government's proposals to increase tuition fees.[17]

Reducing the voting age

On 29 November 2005, Williams introduced a Ten Minute Rule bill to the House of Commons to reduce the voting age to 16. The motion was supported by a majority of Labour members and Liberal Democrats, but opposed by the Conservatives. It was defeated by 136-128 votes.[18]

In January 2013 Williams introduced a backbench committee motion to reduce the voting age. The motion was passed.[19]

Homophobic bullying and gay marriage

In June 2006, Williams launched a campaign against homophobic bullying, after organising the Education and Skills Select Committee's first ever enquiry into the issue of bullying in schools. His petition read:

We, the undersigned, call for the following to support and protect the victims of homophobic bullying:

  1. Homophobic taunts and name calling in schools should be challenged immediately by staff.
  2. All schools' anti-bullying policies should be required to include measures specifically to deal with homophobic bullying.
  3. At least one teacher in every school should undergo training which includes how to tackle homophobic bullying.

In February 2013 Williams spoke in the second reading debate on the introduction of same sex marriage.[20] He then served as the Lib Dem representative on the public bill committee, introducing amendments to allow opposite sex couples to have civil partnerships[21] and for recognition to be given to humanist marriages.[22]

Election results

Avon and Bristol Councils

Williams was first elected to Avon County Council in May 1993, representing Cabot ward. Avon was abolished in March 1996. In May 1995, Williams had been elected to the City (i.e. district council) ward of Cabot[23] and he continued in office when the unitary authority was created. He stood down from the council in May 1999.

General elections

Williams has contested five general elections - 1997, 2001, 2005, 2010 and 2015. In 1997, he stood against Labour Minister Dawn Primarolo in Bristol South, coming third with 13.4% of the vote. In 2001, he stood for the first time in Bristol West, polling 28.89% of the vote and coming in second place. In 2005, this increased to 38.3%, winning the seat from Labour. In the 2010 election, Williams held the seat with an increased majority of 11,366, winning 48% of the vote. In the 2015 election Williams lost out on a seat, coming third to Labour and the Green party.


  1. ^ "SDP Founder Supports Stephen Williams (Stephen Williams)". Bristol West Liberal Democrats. Retrieved 12 May 2010. 
  2. ^ White, Michael (2006-01-27). "Hughes comes out but stays in the race".  
  3. ^ "Stephen Williams MP". 
  4. ^ "House of Commons Hansard Ministerial Statements for 13 Mar 2014 (pt 0001)". 
  5. ^ "Cornish granted minority status within the UK". 
  6. ^ "Standardised packaging: Time to act". ASH. Retrieved 19 March 2013. 
  7. ^ "Tobacco plain packs – a protection against the “Silent Salesman” - Stephen Williams' Blog". Stephen Williams' Blog. 
  8. ^ "Protecting children from smoke in cars". Stephen Williams' Blog. 
  9. ^ "All Party Parliamentary Group on Smoking and Health. Inquiry into the illicit trade in tobacco products". Action on Smoking and Health. Retrieved 8 March 2015. 
  10. ^ "Stephen Williams Bio". The Liberal Democrats. Retrieved 19 March 2013. 
  11. ^ "Political and Constitutional Reform Committee — membership". House of Commons. Retrieved 19 March 2013. 
  12. ^ Williams, Stephen. "Time for a British Senate". Stephen Williams personal website. Retrieved 19 March 2013. 
  13. ^ "Cancer Champion Parliamentary Awards". Cancer Research UK. 2006. Retrieved 24 January 2010. 
  14. ^ a b "Stephen Williams Interview". Retrieved 19 March 2013. 
  15. ^ Staff (30 September 2008). "This is Bristol — News — Bristol West MP's rival hits out over tuition fees policy switch". Bristol Evening Post. Bristol United Press. Retrieved 7 May 2010. 
  16. ^ "The long route to fair funding of Higher Education". Stephen Williams. Retrieved 8 March 2015. 
  17. ^ "Why I abstained in the tuition fees vote". Stephen Williams. Retrieved 8 March 2015. 
  18. ^ "Minutes of the meeting, held on 21st November" (PDF). All-Party Parliamentary Group On Youth Affairs. Retrieved 19 March 2013. 
  19. ^ "BBC News — MPs support giving 16-year-olds the vote". BBC News. 
  20. ^ "Marriage Same Sex Couples Bill debate". Stephen Williams' Blog. 
  21. ^ "Extending Civil Partnerships to Opposite Sex couples". Stephen Williams' Blog. 
  22. ^ "House of Commons Public Bill Committee : MARRIAGE (SAME SEX COUPLES) BILL (12 March 2013)". 
  23. ^ "Local Election Results — Bristol City Council". 

External links

  • Stephen Williams MP official site
  • Personal blog
  • Profile at the Liberal Democrats
  • Bristol West Liberal Democrats
  • Profile at Parliament of the United Kingdom
  • Contributions in Parliament at Hansard 1803–2005
  • Current session contributions in Parliament at Hansard
  • Voting record at Public Whip
  • Record in Parliament at TheyWorkForYou
  • Profile at Westminster Parliamentary Record
  • Profile at BBC News Democracy Live
  • Interview with Stephen Williams interview, April 2006
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Valerie Davey
Member of Parliament for Bristol West
Succeeded by
Thangam Debbonaire
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