Rt Hon Lord Bradley PC was first elected as Member of Parliament (MP) for the constituency at the 1987 general election, having served as a councillor in Old Moat Ward (Manchester) since 1983. After the 1997 general election he became a junior minister at the Department of Social Security, and then became Deputy Chief Whip and Treasurer of the Queen's Household in 1998. He was a junior minister in the Home Office for Criminal Justice, Sentencing, and Law Reform from 2001-2, and then a backbench MP and member of the Health Select Committee. He is a member of the Privy Council.

In 2009, Lord Bradley authored a review of people with mental health problems or learning disabilities in the criminal justice system (the Bradley Report) to examine the extent to which offenders could, in appropriate cases, be diverted from prison to other services and the barriers to such diversion.