Member of the European Parliament, South East Region
It is an honour to serve as one of the ten elected Members of the European Parliament for the beautiful South East of England region.
I was first elected to the European Parliament in 1999 and was re-elected in 2004 and 2009. Prior to this, I was as a Member of the British Parliament and served as Parliamentary Private Secretary in the Scottish Office as a member of the Select Committees on the Parliamentary Ombudsman (1993-1997) and Education (1994-1996). My full, extended biography can be found here.
There's no doubt that we're faced with new challenges across Europe. It's my ambition to help the Conservatives establish an EU that looks outwards; to encourage expansion, and to deliver our manifesto commitments to ensure that we are in Europe, not run by Europe. To create a freer, less regulated Europe; a Europe more like Britain - open, accountable, entrepreneurial and tolerant - a new Europe that does less and does it better.
As the Spokesman for Overseas' Development and Co-operation and Vice-Chairman of the European Parliament's Development Committee, I work to ensure that EU funds are allocated to help the poorest people in the world. Each day, I fight against inefficiencies and delays and for fraud to be eliminated.
He was born in Sri Lanka (Ceylon) to a business and political family. His grand father was a Senator in the first independent Parliament and a founder of the United National Party. He is a British Citizen and was educated in England with a Degree in Aeronautical Engineering and was a Post Graduate Research Fellow in Economics.
Nirj is married to Indra, with one son. He inherited various companies in Sri Lanka from his family and is a non executive Director of them.
Nirj has served in both the British Parliament and the European Parliament and has spent over 20 years in Public Service, specifically on International and Humanitarian Development.
In 1985 he was honoured as the first Asian to be appointed by HM The Queen as Deputy Lord Lieutenant representing Her Majesty on formal and Royal occasions. As a Catholic he had private audiences with both Pope John Paul II and Benedict XVI.
As Chairman of the Bow Group in 1981 he initiated the first Transatlantic Conferences with an aim towards strengthening British-American relations.
In 1992 he was elected to the United Kingdom Parliament, as the Conservative Member for Brentford and Isleworth (1992-1997). Nirj has subsequently been a Member of the European Parliament for the past 12 years, elected in 1999 from a Constituency of 7.5 million voters in the South East of England.
He was elected the Vice President of the European Parliament Development Committee in 2009 and is the Chairman of the Development Committee Group B which has oversight and control of all EU spending on Asia.
With his background as a candidate for Secretary General of the UN, he was appointed Co Leader (with Michel Rocard former PM of France) of European Parliament Delegation to the United Nations World Summit and General Assembly 2006, Co Coordinator Joint Parliamentary Assembly of 79 Parliaments of the EU-ACP 2004.
Nirj has gained recognition on a global level for his active participation on International Missions and conferences including Election Observer Missions to Afghanistan (2004, 2005) as Chm Indonesia (2003, 2006) Kazakhstan (2005, 2007); East Timor (2006), Global Peace and Interfaith Values (India 2005) UN Reform; Heritage Foundation, Hudson Institute Washington (2006), Foreign Relations Council New York (2006), EU China Relations: Beijing, Changchun, Shanghai, (2005, 2006, 2007, 2010).
Nirj is active in the spheres of International Development and Humanitarian Aid. He is the author of multiple Legislative Reports in the European Parliament (1999-2010), particularly on: Effective development cooperation and the fight against corruption; SMEs in developing countries; Economic Partnership Agreements; Neglected Diseases and Poverty; Tourism and Development; Untying of aid; Social aspect of globalisation; Human Rights clauses; Women & Poverty. He was also the Rapporteur on the report on Nation Building in Post Conflict Situations and is currently drafting a report on International Property Rights.
He was nominated to succeed Kofi Anan as Secretary General of the United Nations in 2006 and for his Tsunami work made an Hon Ambassador of Large and given the title "Vishwa Kirthi Sri Lanka Abhimani" by Sri Lanka and the Bharat Gaurav by India. In 2011 he was honoured as a Knight of Merit with Star of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of St George by the Catholic Church for services to International Development. Nirj is also the President of the International Committee on Human Dignity, the Chairman of the Right Approach Group on Economics in the European Parliament and of the Mises Circle on the Austrian School of Economics. As Chairman of the Afghan Group he drafted the Constitution of the National Reconciliation Party of Afghanistan. He chaired the Annual Conference on "Ethics in Business" for the 5th time, the TED Conference "Burn the Box", the EU India Chamber of Commerce for the 6th consecutive year and Chaired the Distribution of 3 million "One Laptop per Child" Initiative with ACP countries. As Chairman of the EU China Friendship Group he published a book on the European Parliament, its democratic workings, electoral, committee and plenary activities in Chinese for distribution in the Peoples Republic and has a strong channel of communication with the Chinese Leadership based on mutual respect.
In January 2012 Nirj stood as a candidate in the European Parliament presidential election. Entering as a candidate from one of the smaller political groups, his ambition was to stand up to a system which decides its leaders through the signing of back room deals enforced by the two largest political groups. By entering the race Nirj’s candidacy reinstated a sense of democratic credibility in the election process, and although he did not win, he achieved the position of the runner up in second place. His decision to stand knowing the conditions of the deal gained him a reputation in the European Parliament of great stature and respect.
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