Des Browne

The Right Honourable
The Lord Browne of Ladyton
Secretary of State for Scotland
In office
28 June 2007  3 October 2008
Prime Minister Gordon Brown
Preceded by Douglas Alexander
Succeeded by Jim Murphy
Secretary of State for Defence
In office
5 May 2006  3 October 2008
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Gordon Brown
Preceded by John Reid
Succeeded by John Hutton
Chief Secretary to the Treasury
In office
6 May 2005  5 May 2006
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Preceded by Paul Boateng
Succeeded by Stephen Timms
Minister of State for Immigration, Citizenship and Counterterrorism
In office
1 April 2004  6 May 2005
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Preceded by Beverley Hughes
Succeeded by Tony McNulty (Immigration, Citizenship and Nationality)
Minister of State for Work & Pensions
In office
May 2003  1 April 2004
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Parliamentary under-Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
In office
May 2001  May 2003
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Member of Parliament
for Kilmarnock and Loudoun
In office
2 May 1997  12 April 2010
Preceded by William McKelvey
Succeeded by Cathy Jamieson
Personal details
Born (1952-03-22) 22 March 1952
Kilwinning, Scotland
Political party Labour
Alma mater University of Glasgow
Religion Roman Catholicism[1]

Desmond Henry Browne, Baron Browne of Ladyton (born 22 March 1952) is a British Labour Party politician who was the Member of Parliament (MP) for Kilmarnock and Loudoun from 1997 to 2010. He was a member of the Cabinet of the United Kingdom under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, until the latter moved him from both Defence and Scottish Secretary in 2008.

Early life and education

Browne was born in Kilwinning, North Ayrshire, lived in Stevenston for the early part of his life, and was educated at the Catholic St Michael's Academy in Kilwinning and later at the University of Glasgow, where he received a degree in law.

He started his legal career in 1974 as an apprentice solicitor with the firm James Campbell & Co. On qualifying in 1976 he became an assistant solicitor with Ross, Harper and Murphy, and was promoted to partner in 1980. He became a partner in McCluskey Browne in 1985 and a council member of the Law Society of Scotland 1988-1992. He was admitted as an advocate in 1993, practising at the Scottish bar until 1997. He worked mainly in child law.

Parliamentary career

Browne contested the parliamentary seat of Argyll and Bute at the 1992 General Election, and finished in fourth place behind the sitting Liberal Democrat MP Ray Michie. He was elected to the Faculty of Advocates in 1993. Browne was selected to contest the safe Labour seat of Kilmarnock and Loudoun following the retirement of the sitting MP William McKelvey. Browne won the seat at the 1997 General Election with a majority of 7,256. He made his maiden speech on 20 June 1997.

Browne joined the Northern Ireland Affairs Select Committee on his election, and became the Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) to the Secretary of State for Scotland Donald Dewar in 1998. After Dewar left the Cabinet in 1999, to seek election as the First Minister of Scotland, Browne remained in post as PPS to the new Secretary of State John Reid. In 2000 he became the PPS to the Minister of State at the Northern Ireland Office.

On 27 November 2009, Browne announced his intention not seek election in the 2010 general election.[2]

Browne currently acts as convenor of the Top Level Group of UK Parliamentarians for Multilateral Nuclear Disarmament and Non-proliferation, established in October 2009.[3]

Government Minister

Browne meeting Robert Gates in Edinburgh during December 2007

After the 2001 General Election Browne entered Tony Blair's government as the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Northern Ireland Office. He was promoted to Minister of State at the Department for Work and Pensions in 2003, before moving to the Home Office in 2004 as the minister with responsibility for immigration. He joined the Cabinet following the 2005 General Election as the Chief Secretary to the Treasury and became a Member of the Privy Council.

Browne was appointed Secretary of State for Defence on 5 May 2006. An advocate of the UK Trident programme, in 2007 he successfully persuaded Parliament to vote to replace Trident. He came under criticism, however, after allowing the Royal Navy personnel captured by Iran in spring 2007 to sell and publish their stories.[4] Under Tony Blair's premiership, Browne was considered a supporter of the Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown.[4][5] He received the additional responsibilities of Secretary of State for Scotland in June 2007 after Brown became Prime Minister.

In a free parliamentary vote on 20 May 2008, Browne voted for cutting the upper limit for abortions from 24 to 12 weeks, along with two other Catholic cabinet ministers Ruth Kelly and Paul Murphy.[6] He returned to the backbenches in October 2008 following a cabinet reshuffle.

Browne gave evidence to the Iraq Inquiry on 25 January 2010.[7]

Activities post-government

Browne is vice chairman of the Washington, DC-based Nuclear Threat Initiative, a non-profit, nonpartisan organization founded in 2001 by former U.S. Senator Sam Nunn, who serves as co-chair and CEO, and CNN founder and philanthropist Ted Turner. NTI’s mission is to strengthen global security by reducing the risk of use and preventing the spread of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons.

Browne is also convener of the European Leadership Network for Multilateral Nuclear Disarmament and Non-proliferation.[8] and he is convener of the Top Level Group of UK Parliamentarians for Multilateral Nuclear Disarmament and Nonproliferation.[9]

Des Browne is a signatory of Global Zero (campaign), a non-profit international initiative for the elimination of all nuclear weapons worldwide.[10] Since its launch in Paris in December 2008,[11] Global Zero (campaign) has grown to 300 leaders, including current and former heads of state, national security officials and military commanders, and 400,000 citizens worldwide; developed a practical step-by-step plan to eliminate nuclear weapons; launched an international student campaign with 75 campus chapters in eight countries; and produced an acclaimed documentary film, Countdown to Zero, in partnership with Lawrence Bender and Participant Media.[12]

Controversy over appointment as envoy to Sri Lanka

In February 2009, Browne was appointed by PM Brown as the government's special envoy to Sri Lanka. However, the government of Mahinda Rajapaksa, fighting the LTTE rebel group, rejected Browne's appointment, stating that the British government made the appointment unilaterally, without consultation with the Sri Lankan government.[13]


  1. Brown, Colin (3 June 2006). "Blair to meet Pope and fuel rumours of Catholic conversion". The Independent. London. Retrieved 1 May 2010.
  2. "Des Browne to quit House of Commons after next election". BBC News Online. 27 November 2009. Retrieved 2 January 2010.
  3. Borger, Julian (8 September 2009). "Nuclear-free world ultimate aim of new cross-party pressure group". The Guardian. London.
  4. 1 2 "Profile: Des Browne". BBC News. 15 April 2007. Retrieved 2009-01-02.
  5. Sarah Hall, political correspondent. "Brown's man Browne gets poisoned chalice | Politics". The Guardian. Retrieved 2013-03-13.
  6. "UK | UK Politics | MPs back 24-week abortion limit". BBC News. 2008-05-20. Retrieved 2013-03-13.
  7. "Ex-defence secretary speaks of strain of Iraq losses". BBC News. BBC. 25 January 2010. Retrieved 29 January 2010.
  8. "Members: Lord Desmond Browne of Ladyton". European Leadership Network for Multilateral Nuclear Disarmament and Non-proliferation. Retrieved 25 February 2011.
  9. Des Browne (November 2010). Current NATO Nuclear Policy (Report). Arms Control Association et al. Retrieved 25 February 2011.
  10. "Group Offers Plan to Eliminate Nukes by 2030" (PDF). The New York Times. 29 June 2009.
  11. Corera, Gordon (10 December 2008). "Group seeks nuclear weapons ban". BBC.
  12. Clift, Eleanor. "A Good Start: 'Global Zero' reminds us that eradicating nuclear weapons should still be our ultimate goal.". Newsweek.
  13. "''Sri Lanka rejects UK's new envoy''". BBC News. 2009-02-13. Retrieved 2013-03-13.
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
William McKelvey
Member of Parliament
for Kilmarnock and Loudoun

Succeeded by
Cathy Jamieson
Political offices
Preceded by
Beverley Hughes
Minister of State for Immigration, Citizenship and Counterterrorism
Succeeded by
Tony McNulty
as Minister of State for Immigration, Citizenship and Nationality
Preceded by
Paul Boateng
Chief Secretary to the Treasury
Succeeded by
Stephen Timms
Preceded by
John Reid
Secretary of State for Defence
Succeeded by
John Hutton
Preceded by
Douglas Alexander
Secretary of State for Scotland
Succeeded by
Jim Murphy
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