|Member of Parliament
for Romsey and Southampton North and Parliamentary Private Secretary at the Department for Work and Pensions
6 May 2010
|Preceded by||Sandra Gidley|
26 June 1972 |
Lyndhurst, Hampshire, England
|Alma mater||University of Sussex|
Caroline Fiona Ellen Nokes (née Perry) (born 26 June 1972), MP, is a Conservative Party politician in the United Kingdom. She is the Member of Parliament (MP) for Romsey and Southampton North in Hampshire, and is Parliamentary Private Secretary at the Department for Work and Pensions
- 1 Early life
- 2 Career Before Politics
- 3 Parliamentary career
- 4 Department for Work and Pensions
- 5 Parliamentary Select Committees, and All Party Groups
- 6 Parliamentary Bill Committees
- 7 Nokes' Position on the EU Referendum
- 8 Nokes' Position on Planning Policy
- 9 Body Image & Eating Disorder Awareness
- 10 UK's Most Responsive MP
- 11 Parliamentary Expenses
- 12 Conflict with Fathers4Justice
- 13 Personal life
- 14 References
- 15 External links
Nokes was born in Lyndhurst Hospital, but raised in West Wellow, the Hampshire village in which she still lives, and represents in Parliament. She was educated at The Romsey School, La Sagesse Convent in Romsey and then Peter Symonds' College, Winchester, going on to read politics at the University of Sussex from 1991 to 1994.
Career Before Politics
After graduating, Nokes became a policy adviser for her father, a Member of the European Parliament. Prior to her election, she was Chief Executive of the National Pony Society, an animal welfare charity promoting and supporting the traditional native breeds of ponies through education, training and competition.
Nokes was a member of Test Valley Borough Council from 1999 until 2010, when she was elected as a Councillor for the Romsey Extra Ward, serving as the Leisure Portfolio Holder. She stood down as a Councillor when she was elected to Parliament in May 2010. She was the Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for the Southampton Itchen constituency in the 2001 general election; and Romsey constituency in the 2005 general election. Nokes was elected MP for Romsey & Southampton North having beaten the incumbent for the Romsey seat, Sandra Gidley by 4,165 votes in the 2010 election. Nokes made her Maiden Speech on 17 June 2010 on the subject of a High Skilled Economy. Nokes was alleged to be one of the parliamentary candidates who signed a pledge to "respect, uphold and protect the right of Christians to hold and express Christian beliefs and act according to Christian conscience". She has also stated she was 'broadly supportive' of same-sex marriage providing religious organisations are not forced to act against their theology. In February 2013, she cited her support for stable and secure relationships, both gay and straight, but also referenced her previous pledge to Christians, and voted against The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill at Second Reading, saying she was 'not convinced the safeguards sought by the Church of England have been guaranteed'. In August 2011, Nokes joined a Parliamentary delegation to Equatorial Guinea, an African country criticised for its human rights record. The decision to visit the country was criticised by a Labour MP. But others commended the delegation for its bravery in going, and for publishing a balanced report which was critical of the regime. Nokes said her decision to go was because Amnesty International were no longer active in the country, and information about Equatorial Guinea was possibly outdated. The delegation had Foreign Office support, and was asked to assess if historic reports of the country were still valid. The delegation met with the country's Prime Minister, whom the delegation challenged about the country's human rights record. Nokes went on to call for EG's president to instigate proper democracy and permit press freedom. Nokes is a member of the Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme, has spoken in 37 separate debates in the twelve months to March 2013, and has an above average voting record. Nokes lists her particular interests as international development, sport, the equine industry, the environment, energy, animal welfare, family law, local government and planning. She has recently spoken in debates on planning policy, reforming the Child Support Agency, Family Based Agreements, Adoption, and the closure of the Ford plant in her constituency. She has also introduced legislation on Dangerous Dogs, and in January 2011, the Consumer Protection Bill. With her professional background in equine welfare, Nokes is an expert on equine issues.
Department for Work and Pensions
In July 2014, Nokes was given a Government role as Parliamentary Private Secretary at the Department for Work and Pensions, as an aide to the Minister with responsibility for disabled people 
Parliamentary Select Committees, and All Party Groups
Nokes is a member of two Parliamentary Select Committees, the Environmental Audit Select Committee, and the Education Select Committee. Nokes is a member of a Parliamentary group for equine welfare, the All Party Parliamentary Group on Children, is Vice Chairman of All Party Parliamentary 'Save the Pub' Group  and a member of the Parliamentary Beer Group. In October 2012 Nokes became an officer of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Body Image, which campaigns to raise awareness of body image, eating disorders, nutrition and health issues within the advertising industry, the health and fitness sector, media, youth organisations and Government.
Parliamentary Bill Committees
Nokes sat on the Scrap Metal Dealers Bill Committee, and was a member of the Justice and Security Bill Committee. She also sat on the Children and Families Bill Committee which scrutinises a bill designed to improve legislation affecting fostered and adopted children, children in care, children with Special Educational Needs, and the family justice system. Before her election, Nokes endorsed the controversial campaign group Fathers4Justice campaign for reform of the family law system but the group then declared 'war' against Nokes after accusing her of breaking her promises to them. Nokes was also a member of the Deregulation Bill Committee  and the Modern Slavery Bill Committee, a subject she had previously expressed a constituency interest in and questioned Government on.
Nokes' Position on the EU Referendum
In October 2011, Nokes was one of 81 Conservative MPs to rebel against her party over the EU, and vote against the Government. Nokes publicly called for a referendum on British membership of the EU, which later became Conservative Party policy.
Nokes' Position on Planning Policy
Nokes was a member of the Southern Area Planning Committee on Test Valley Borough Council for ten years and was a critic of a number of developments in the Test Valley area, in particular where plans to develop were not subject to a proper environmental survey. Nokes is a regular speaker on planning issues, advocate for greater planning controls to protect green field spaces, and to better manage planning in rural areas. Nokes criticised the National Planning Policy Framework, saying "communities need to be treated differently. Good quality affordable housing is of course the key issue, but so is sympathetic development and ensuring the rural economy can grow through planning regulations which do not disadvantage rural business". She criticised the Government for "not delivering localism" and said the most important aspect of planning "is the voice of the local resident" which "must be heard above the voice of the local authority. We need planning policy which empowers local people, not local authorities." 
Body Image & Eating Disorder Awareness
Nokes is the Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Body Image, which exists to "monitor on an ongoing basis the causes of body image anxiety. To explore what steps can be taken to promote body confidence, working with advertisers, the media, fashion industry and youth organisations". Nokes also campaigns on the related issues of eating disorders, working closely with charities, researchers, clinicians and others to raise awareness of the dangers posed by eating disorders.
UK's Most Responsive MP
In June 2014, Nokes was independently and secretly assessed as coming first out of the UK's 650 MPs in responding to constituents, with Nokes’ response rate at 100 per cent. The data was analysed by Think-Tank My Society, who commented Nokes was the most "responsive MP" in Parliament. The data was produced to establish the effectiveness of writing to MPs, to see if MPs regard communicating with their constituents as important, and was based on over 58,000 responses to 96,000 messages sent to MPs.
In her first year in Parliament Nokes' claimed £87,000 less than her predecessor In 2011/2012, Nokes claimed £108,000 for staff salaries, office expenses and accommodation, and in 2012/13 claimed under £120,000 compared to her predecessors highest claim of £187,000, Nokes has consistently been one of the least expensive MPs in Hampshire.
Conflict with Fathers4Justice
In April 2010, Fathers4Justice members backed Caroline Nokes as her party had supported its campaign for change to family law, promising legislation if they won the 2010 General election. However, at the election, the Conservatives did not win an overall majority, and formed a coalition with the Liberal Democrats, based upon a 'Coalition Agreement', which included aspects of the Fathers4Justice agenda. In accordance with the Coalition Agreement, the Government initiated a number of reviews, including the Family Justice Review (The Norgrove Report) and the Co-operative Parenting Consultation. After the consultations, the Government brought forward the Children & Families Bill. Whilst legal experts agreed these proposals were a considerable improvement on the previous situation it did not fully reflect the position of Fathers4Justice, and the group criticised the Coalition. In March 2013 Nokes announced she would sit on the 'Bill Committee' responsible for scrutinising the Bill, and publicly asked Fathers4Justice to submit their amendments so she could table them on the group's behalf, acknowledged the group's agenda and asked them to "help me deliver it." However, the group refused Nokes' offer to table amendments, and called on her to resign from the committee. After she refused to do so the group organised a demonstration in Nokes' constituency
Caroline Nokes stated that Fathers4Justice were encouraging their members to visit Nokes' family home at night, post late-night Tweets saying they were driving around her village 'looking for' her, asking members to send the MP their dirty underwear, demanding to see a Court Order outlining her daughter's living and contact arrangements, and falsely alleged her ex-husband was having difficulty having contact with his daughter. Fathers4Justice denies these allegations
Nokes commented in her local newspaper; "I have been accused of...being an obstructive mother who denies her ex-husband access to our child. This is a completely baseless fabrication which nevertheless they repeat ad nauseam. I have even had to involve the police over concerns for my daughter's safety. If F4J really want to deliver for their members, bullying, vadalising portraits of HM the Queen and harassing my constituents will not deliver it. They should have engaged with the legislative process when they were asked, and are now in danger of losing what little credibility they have left as a campaign group. The only people betrayed are F4J members who have been let down by the O'Connors." After complaints by her and others to the Police, Nokes finally broke-off contact with the group.
Twitter warned the group, and its founder Matt O'Connor, that they would have their accounts suspended if they continued to contact Nokes. The warnings were ignored and Twitter suspended the two accounts in June 2013. Fathers4Justice claimed the suspension was political censorship. However, the local media reported the group had been engaged in a 'witch hunt' against Ms. Nokes, who pointed out she had "....repeatedly offered to help Fathers 4 Justice with the tabling of amendments for the Children and Families Bill, but none were forthcoming, just comments, which Twitter agreed constituted abuse and harassment. I am aware other political parties and individuals have also complained to Twitter and indeed to the police." She also stated "I remain committed to improvements to the family justice system, which the Children and Families Bill goes some way towards delivering, and it is a pity F4J chose not to engage constructively with the deliberations of the Bill Committee.".
In February 2014, Nokes criticised a Lords' amendment to the Children & Families Bill which she said 'watered down' the commitment to shared parenting, and spoke against the amendment in the House of Commons, arguing strongly in favour of shared parenting, saying shared parenting arrangements were in the best interests of children.
In October 2014, The Independent published claims following an investigation into the behaviour of the group, during which it emerged that aside from abusive messages over social media, Nadine O'Connor, Campaign Director for the group, approached a private investigator in order to put a GPS tracking device on Nokes' car, and a security consultant stated he believed the O'Connors had placed Nokes under surveillance. Police were said to regard the group as a "fixated threat" which lead to security enhancements at Nokes' home. When Mrs O'Connor confronted the Hampshire Police & Crime Commissioner making allegations about Nokes, the Commissioner stated O'Connor had "made things up". A person claiming to be a supporter of the group later sent Nokes a Facebook message which stated the wish that Nokes be '"violently raped"', and stated '"there are a lot of people who wish you serious harm, torture and death. Watch you back"'. Another national newspaper later published an article in which Nokes said the harassment was causing her to consider leaving Parliament on a weekly basis due to the impact it was having on her and her daughter. In return, the O'Connors claimed Nokes was waging a campaign of harassment against them, and took her and a friend whom they also claimed was harassing them to court to seek an injunction. However, at court the judge refused to grant the injunction because of "a total absence of evidence", with the judge criticising the O'Connors for seeking to prejudice the court by making "generalised assertions" and concluding "there's no sufficient evidence before me to support a finding that there's even an arguable case for a claim for harassment." The O'Connors were ordered to pay costs
Nokes is divorced, and lives with her daughter.
- "Caroline Nokes MP". BBC Democracy Live (BBC). Retrieved 25 July 2010.
- "List of Members returned to serve in Parliament at the General Election 2010". London Gazette. 13 May 2010. Retrieved 29 May 2010.
- "Caroline Nokes". Conservative Party website. Retrieved 7 May 2010.
- "Gidley goes as Tories win Romsey". Southern Daily Echo. 7 May 2010. Retrieved 7 May 2010.
- "Elected Representatives: Mrs Caroline Nokes, Borough Councillor". Retrieved 7 May 2010.
- "Lib Dem's Sandra Gidley loses seat after 10 years". BBC News. 7 May 2010.
- "Caroline Nokes wins in Romsey". This is Hampshire. 7 May 2010. Retrieved 14 June 2010.
- "Nokes backs gay marriage but won’t sign Labour petition". Romsey Advertiser. 14 March 2011. Retrieved 15 March 2011.
- Birrell, Ian (23 October 2011). "The strange and evil world of Equatorial Guinea". The Guardian (London).
- Watt, Nicholas (24 October 2011). "David Cameron rocked by record rebellion as Europe splits Tories again". The Guardian (London).
- United Kingdom general election, 2010
- ["https://www.facebook.com/Fathers4Justice/posts/10151781049298804" "Nokes Secures twitter takedown"]. Facebook - Fathers4Justice.
- "Romsey MP Caroline Nokes and husband divorce".
- Profile at the Conservative Party
- Romsey and Southampton North Conservatives
- Profile at Parliament of the United Kingdom
- Current session contributions in Parliament at Hansard
- Electoral history and profile at The Guardian
- Voting record at Public Whip
- Record in Parliament at TheyWorkForYou
- Profile at Westminster Parliamentary Record
- Profile at BBC News Democracy Live
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
|Member of Parliament for Romsey and Southampton North