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Last Updated: Friday, 2 November 2007, 13:56 GMT
Profile: Liam Byrne
Liam Byrne
Mr Byrne has earned praise for his thoughtful approach
Liam Byrne is one of the government's fastest rising stars - with one of the most high profile and politically sensitive portfolios.

The 37-year-old who has an MBA from Harvard and previously ran his own IT firm, became immigration minister in May 2006.

He has spearheaded the government's current crackdown on illegal working and people trafficking, ahead of next year's introduction of compulsory ID cards for foreign workers.

He was also instrumental in the government's decision to curb migrant workers from Bulgaria and Romania and its new points-based system for non-EU migrants.

And he has been a leading advocate of the government's ID card scheme, predicting that it will one day be seen as "another great British institution," like the railways in the 19th Century.

He has drawn criticism from some over his robust language on immigration - he reacted to calls for a migrant amnesty by telling people in the UK illegally they should "go home, not go to the front of the queue for jobs and benefits".

By-election victory

But his sober, intelligent and sure-footed handling of one of the most difficult briefs in government has seen him tipped as a future member of Prime Minister Gordon Brown's Cabinet.

Mr Brown gave him the additional responsibility of Minister for the West Midlands in his June reshuffle.

Mr Byrne won the Birmingham Hodge Hill seat for Labour in a tightly contested by-election in July 2004.

The constituency is one of the most deprived in the country and although traditionally a Labour stronghold, it was a closely fought contest.

Mr Byrne beat his Lib Dem rival Nicola Davies - who he accused of being "soft on failed asylum seekers and yob crime" - by just 460 votes.

Ironically, given his recent fine for driving while using a mobile phone, he made much play of Ms Davies' former job securing permission for new mobile phone masts, which were unpopular locally, nicknaming her "Nokia Davies".

He later sat on the parliamentary committee which shaped the 2006 Road Safety Act, which increased fixed penalty fines for driving while using a mobile.

Junior minister

Before entering Parliament, Mr Byrne ran his own company, worked for Andersen Consulting and investment bank Rothschild's, and, as a Labour policy adviser, he helped the party to woo the business vote in the run-up to the 1997 election.

He was made a junior minister in the Department of Health within months of entering Parliament before moving to the Home Office in the 2006 reshuffle.

He was briefly minister of state for police and counter-terrorism before being handed the immigration brief by then Home Secretary John Reid.

Comprehensive school educated, he studied politics and modern history at Manchester University and is a fellow of the Social Market Foundation.

He lives in Birmingham with his wife Sarah and three children Alex, John and Elizabeth.

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