Nick Palmer

Nick Palmer
Nick Palmer
In office
1 May 1997 – 12 April 2010
Preceded by Jim Lester
Succeeded by Anna Soubry
Majority 2,296 (4.7%)
Personal details
Born 5 February 1950 (1950-02-05) (age 61)
City of Westminster, London
Nationality British
Political party Labour
Spouse(s) Fiona Hunter
Residence Attenborough, Nottinghamshire
Alma mater Universities of Copenhagen, Birkbeck London and MIT
Occupation Medical computing
Profession Computer scientist

Nicholas Douglas Palmer (born 5 February 1950, London) is a British Labour Party politician. He was the Member of Parliament (MP) for Broxtowe in Nottinghamshire from 1997[1] until he lost the seat at the 2010 general election to Conservative Anna Soubry, by 390 votes.

Described by Andrew Roth as "quietly effective",[2] he was Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) to the Minister of State, Margaret Beckett, in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs until April 2005.[3] He then became PPS to the Minister of State, Malcolm Wicks, first in the Department of Trade and Industry and later in the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform until Wicks stood down in October 2008.[3]

He is fond of animals, keeps several pets and is the patron of his favourite charity, Cats Protection.[4] In August 2010, pursuing his interest in animals, he joined the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection as their Director of International and Corporate Relations.[5] He remains spokesperson for Broxtowe Labour Party. [6]



Palmer's father was a translator/editor and his mother was a language teacher. He is the cousin of Lieutenant-General Anthony Palmer, Deputy Chief of the Defence Staff. He married Fiona Hunter in 2000, having proposed on the terrace of the House of Commons. The ceremony took place on his birthday in the ornate 14th century Chapel of St Mary Undercroft.[7][8]

He attended International Schools in Copenhagen and Vienna. He speaks six languages, despite being born with a cleft palate, and works as a professional translator of Danish and German for the European Commission and other clients.[9] He was the first person with the cleft palate disability to enter Parliament.[1]

He was awarded an MSc at Copenhagen University and a PhD in Mathematics from Birkbeck College, University of London. He also studied at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) where he researched artificial intelligence and language translation.[1] As a computer scientist, he developed the COMPACT clinical trials package for the Medical Research Council. Joining the Swiss pharmaceutical firm Ciba-Geigy, he became head of Novartis Internet Service when Ciba-Geigy merged with Novartis.[1]

He designed and developed a computer game about the Battle of Britain, named Their Finest Hour.[10] He has written three books about conflict simulation games and still attends international conventions, winning the Diplomacy championship at the World Boardgaming Championships in 2007.[11] He co-founded and edited Flagship magazine in 1983, covering the field of play-by-mail games. A keen card player, he has represented the House of Commons at bridge.[12]

With his secretary Philipa Coughlan (with sons Nick and Sean) and fellow MP, Liz Blackman, he compiled a book of recipes favoured by MPs. For example, Tony Blair's recipe was for Meatball and Tomato Sauce while speaker Betty Boothroyd preferred Stewed Oxtail. Nick Palmer's own recipe was for Swiss-style potatoes – Berner Roesti.[4]

Career as an MP

Palmer joined the Labour Party on his twenty-first birthday[1] and was selected as the Labour candidate for the ultra-safe Tory constituency of Chelsea in the 1983 general election. Prior to contesting Broxtowe, he edited and published a magazine to represent the views of ordinary Labour party members - Grass Roots.[4]

Legislation and Committee Work

He has served on a number of Select Committees including the European Scrutiny Committee,[13] the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee,[14] and the Treasury Committee.[15] and also serves as a member of the Justice Committee.[16]

Nick Palmer with the Secretary of State for Transport, Ruth Kelly, launching free bus travel.

He suggested TV Licence exemption for over-75s which was then adopted by the government, along with similar measures like free bus passes for the elderly.[17]

In January 1998 Palmer introduced a bill under the Ten Minute Rule, amending the Firearms act 1968 and raising the age for possession of air weapons, especially to prevent malicious use against pets.[18] [19][20]

In April 2000 he introduced a private members bill to presume consent for organ donation,[21] a measure still being considered which could increase transplants by 25%.[22]

In January 2002, he introduced a 10 minute rule bill advocating Identity Cards[23] which was adopted by the Government. He subsequently brokered a deal to get the government's version
through the Lords.[24]

He campaigned for five years for bells to be fitted to all new bicycles in response to a petition from his constituents. A bill was passed making them compulsory from 1 May 2004.[25]

He introduced a bill about fine print, requiring a minimum size of print in documents, especially those relating to advertising and contracts.[26]

In December 2005 he introduced another 10 minute rule bill intended to ensure speed camera warning signs displayed the limit they enforced.[27]

In May 2008, he introduced an amendment to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 requiring that "strictly neutral information" be provided in cases of foetal abnormality.[28] This was based on his parents' experience of the expert advice from pioneering surgeon Archibald McIndoe who successfully reconstructed his cleft palate.[29]

He has spoken in the Commons on animal welfare issues[30][31][32] and in December 2009 he was one of 8 cross party supporters of a bill introduced by Nigel Waterson to “make provision for residents of care homes and sheltered accommodation to keep domestic pets in certain circumstances”.[33]

Based on his experience as a computer software developer, he spoke against the terms of the Digital Economy bill and joined Tom Watson and Austin Mitchell in leading a Labour rebellion against its third reading.[34]

Interest Groups

Palmer belongs to an All-Party Parliamentary Group on Animal Welfare, Fund for the Replacement of Animals in Medical Experiments (FRAME) and World Government. He is a member of the East Midlands Labour Group and serves on the Executive of the Labour Friends of Israel. He helped organise the visit of the Dalai Lama to Britain in 2008, organising meetings and a special exhibit of a mandala in the House of Commons.[35]


Nick Palmer canvassing with David Miliband in Stapleford

Palmer’s success in Broxtowe in 1997 was unexpected.[36] In 2001 his majority increased by 2.4% against the national swing of 2.5%[36] indicating that he had done a respectable job of representing his constituency.[37]

Palmer’s emails, estimated sent to around 1500 constituents in 2003-2004 could build a personal vote much higher than the normal estimate of 500.[36] "No one in Broxtowe can complain that Palmer doesn't tell them what he is doing or why he thinks what he thinks."[36]

He responds to a "very high" percentage of constituents' letters,[38] addressing matters of local concern such as open-cast mining and the development of the local Nottingham tramway[39][40] and in February 2008 he asked about "proposals to build on virtually the entire green belt" in Broxtowe at Prime Minister's Questions.[41] In June 2008 he asked the Department for Transport about the second phase of the tram/train trials.[42] He also organised a bus service to link Kimberley with the Nottingham tram at Phoenix Park.[43]

Post Parliamentary career

A month after losing his seat in the 2010 UK General Election, Palmer signed on for unemployment benefit, at Nottingham's Station St Job Centre, the first ex-MP to do so.[44] He said this was partly to keep his national insurance contributions continuous and partly to explore for himself what the unemployment services are like.[44] He expected to claim no more than £5 most weeks due to his income from translation work.[45] Palmer described the experience as sensitive but said he had received plenty of helpful suggestions and was favourably impressed.[46] In September 2010, he became Director of International and Corporate Affairs for the BUAV.[47]

External links


  1. ^ a b c d e Roth, Andrew (1997). New MPs of '97. Parliamentary Profiles. ISBN 0900582383. 
  2. ^ Andrew Roth. "Nick Palmer: Electoral history and profile". The Guardian (London: GuardianNewspapers). Retrieved 20-Apr-2010. 
  3. ^ a b "Nick Palmer Former Labour MP for Broxtowe". Retrieved 17-Apr-2010. 
  4. ^ a b c Philipa Coughlan (1998). Parliamentary Portions. London: Politico's Pub.. ISBN 1902301064. 
  5. ^ "Former MP Nick Palmer joins fight against animal testing with new role", This is Nottingham, September 16, 2010, 
  6. ^ Nick Palmer's Newsletters, Welcome to Stapleford, 5th September 2011, 
  7. ^ "Candidate Nick Palmer". BBC. Retrieved 2008-06-11. 
  8. ^ MP weds at the House. Nottingham Evening Post. 7 February 2000. 
  9. ^ Nicholas Palmer, Translators Café, February 16, 2011, 
  10. ^ Their Finest Hour. Crash. 
  11. ^ (PDF) Diplomacy 2007 results. Boardgame Players Association. Retrieved 2008-06-14 [dead link]
  12. ^ Raymond Keene (14 August 1999). Party pieces. The Spectator. 
  13. ^ "Select Committee on European Scrutiny First Special Report". Parliament Publications & Records. 18 November 1998. 
  14. ^ "Northern Ireland Affairs Committee Press Notice No. 1 of Session 2001-02". Parliament Publications & Records. 20 July 2001. 
  15. ^ "Pre-Budget report: Did the chancellor get it right?". BBC. 28 November 2002. 
  16. ^ "Justice Committee: Members". Archived from the original on 2008-05-08. Retrieved 2008-06-13. 
  17. ^ Brian D (Feb 23, 2006). "FOCUS - Nick Palmer". Face Forward. 
  18. ^ "Acquisition and Possession of Air Weapons (Restriction),House of Commons debates, 21 January 1998". Retrieved 20-Apr-2010. 
  19. ^ The Cats Protection League backs Air Rifle Bill. Cats Protection League. 
  20. ^ Select Committee on Home Affairs Second Report. Parliament Publications & Records. 23 June 1999. 
  21. ^ "Organ Transplants (Presumed Consent) House of Commons debates, 11 April 2000". 
  22. ^ Smith, Rebecca (14-Jan-2009). "Presumed consent for organ donation could increase transplants by a quarter". London: Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 20-Apr-2010. 
  23. ^ "HC Deb, 23 January 2002, c905". Retrieved 20-Apr-2010. 
  24. ^ Debate. Hansard. 29 March 2006. 
  25. ^ "Welcome back, bicycle bell". BBC. Thursday, 29 April 2004. 
  26. ^ Debate. Hansard. 26 Feb 2008. 
  27. ^ "Road Traffic Signs (Enforcement Cameras)HC Deb, 13 December 2005, c1236". Retrieved 20-Apr-2010. 
  28. ^ "New Clause 8 — Amendment of the law relating to abortion". Parliament Publications & Records. 20 May 2008. 
  29. ^ Jenny Percival (May 19, 2008). Amendment could cut number of late abortions. London: Guardian. 
  30. ^ "Debate on Hunting with Dogs bill". Hansard. 18 March 2002. 
  31. ^ "DEFRA questions". Hansard. 31 January 2008. 
  32. ^ "Nick Palmer". London: The Guardian.,9290,-10970,00.html. Retrieved 2008-06-13. 
  33. ^ "Care Homes and Sheltered Accommodation (Domestic Pets) Bill, House of Commons debates, 16 December 2009". Retrieved 20-Apr-2010. 
  34. ^ "Clause 4 — Obligation to notify subscribers of reported infringements". House of Commons debates. They Work For You. 7 April 2010. 
  35. ^ (PDF) MP hosts special exhibition at Westminster. Beeston Express. May 23, 2008. 
  36. ^ a b c d Philip Cowley (7 March 2005). Will envelopes die in vain?. New Statesman. 
  37. ^ Byron Criddle, Robert Waller (2002). Almanac of British Politics. London: Routledge. pp. 192. ISBN 0415268338. 
  38. ^ "MP Responsiveness League Table". Retrieved 2008-05-23. 
  39. ^ "Tram webchat - the transcript". BBC. 2007-03-24. 
  40. ^ "Nick Palmer's - Newsletters". StaplefordWeb. Retrieved 2008-05-18. 
  41. ^ "HC Debates, 6 February 2008, c955". Retrieved 20-Apr-2010. 
  42. ^ "HC Deb, 9 June 2008, c35W". Retrieved 20-Apr-2010. 
  43. ^ £500,000 bus boost for Kimberley. Eastwood & Kimberley Advertiser. 
  44. ^ a b Bingham, John (11 June 2010). "Labour's Nick Palmer become first ex-MP to go on the dole". The Daily Telegraph (London). 
  45. ^ Kingsley, Patrick (10 June 2010). "Ousted Labour MP Nick Palmer signs on for dole". The Guardian (London). 
  46. ^ "What did ex-MP Nick Palmer think of Nottingham's Job Centre Plus?". 3 June 2010. Retrieved 8 June 2010. 
  47. ^ BUAV welcomes Dr Nick Palmer, former MP for Broxtowe, BUAV, 15 Sep 2010, 
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Jim Lester
Member of Parliament for Broxtowe
Succeeded by
Anna Soubry

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