I was born and brought up in the West of Scotland but after graduating from Strathclyde University in 1973 I moved to London and have been here ever since. I live in Edmonton so I am able to see local issues first hand, and I try to meet as many of my constituents as possible in order to hear of any problems that are occurring in the area.
I had a number of different jobs before I became involved in politics, including managing a small import-export company in North London and working as the secretary to the London Co-operative political committee.
In 1975 I joined the Labour Party and five years later I was elected as a councillor in the London Borough of Haringey, serving two terms and becoming Chairman of the Finance Committee and the Housing Committee. I was also the Chair of the Hornsey and Wood Green Constituency Labour Party between 1987 and 1989.
Before I was elected as the Labour and Co-operative Party Member of Parliament for Edmonton in May 1997 I was the Parliamentary Officer of the Co-operative Movement, working closely with a group of 19 MPs and Peers.
I have developed a wide range of interests in my time as an MP and have held a number of different roles since entering Parliament. Soon after I was first elected in 1997 I joined the House of Commons Public Accounts Select Committee, which scrutinises the expenditure of Parliament and its associated organisations, and assesses the value for money given to taxpayers in relation to Parliament's work.
I was later a member of the Regulatory Reform Select Committee, and have also held roles as a Parliamentary Private Secretary to ministers in the Departments of Health, Trade and Industry and Communities and Local Government.
Since 2005 I have been a member of the Treasury Select Committee, which investigates issues surrounding the economy and the banking and financial sectors. In the time I have sat on the Committee I have had the opportunity to question three different Chancellors, the Governor of the Bank of England and prominent figures from banks and financial institutions on how their policies and actions affect the wider UK and global economy.
I am also an active member of a number of All Party Parliamentary Groups that reflect the concerns and backgrounds of many people in Edmonton. Since 1997 I have been developing my knowledge and interest in areas such as small business, affordable housing and financial services and I am also a member of several country related groups, promoting greater understanding of countries including Sri Lanka, Mexico, Cyprus and parts of the Middle East.
I am married to Ruth and outside of politics I like to relax by playing golf, reading and going to the cinema, opera and theatre. Ruth and I are also big fans of Tottenham FC, and we go to White Hart Lane to cheer them on whenever we can.