The woman who was not identified lunged at him and stabbed him twice in the stomach as Timms held a meeting for his constituents in his East London constituency yesterday, before one of aides bravely overpowered the woman, wearing a Muslim full dress and scarf, police said.
The arrival of the aide Andrew Bazeley, 22, who had come to see Timms' on an appointment proved providential for one of the longest surviving and least controversial member of the outgoing Labour government, as he grabbed at the woman and wrestled to disarm her.
Unmesh Desai, an Indian born election aide of Timms and a local councillor, said, "Thank God. Andrew had the presence of mind to take away the knife and restrain the woman until security guards arrived."
Stephen Timms, who is the MP for East Ham and was re-elected to the Commons in the recent General Elections was rushed to the Royal London Hospital and is said to be recovering.
Scotland Yard said a knife had been recovered from the scene. The metropolitan police said investigations were in progress.
Desai said, "Timms was in good spirits and was expected to be released from the hospital after being kept under observation and treatment."
Police did not say anything on what were the motives for the attack. They only said that the woman was in custody. "The 21-year-old woman attacker was shaking after being disarmed and wasn't saying anything as she was held before being handed over to police," witnesses said.
This was the second such attack on an MP in Britain, in 2000 a deranged person Robert Ashman attacked a Liberal Democrat MP Nigel Jones with a Samurai sword during a public appearance in his constituency in Cheltenham.
The attacker seriously wounded Jones who required 57 stitches to his hand and stabbed to death his aide as he tried to protect the MP.
Timms joined the Cabinet in 2006 as chief secretary to the Treasury and was effectively Chancellor Gordon Brown's second-in-command, with responsibility for keeping departmental budgets under control.
But after Brown became Prime Minister in 2007, he was dropped from the Cabinet and made competitiveness minister in the Business Department, before moving back to the department for work and Pensions and then returning to his old job of financial secretary to the Treasury in 2008.