Charlie Elphicke

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Charles Elphicke
Charlie Elphicke.jpg
Member of Parliament
for Dover
Assumed office
6 May 2010
Preceded by Gwyn Prosser
Majority 5,274 (10.5%)
Personal details
Born (1971-03-14) 14 March 1971 (age 43)[1]
Huntingdon, Huntingdonshire, England
Nationality British
Political party Conservative
Spouse(s) Natalie Ross
Children Two
Profession Solicitor

Brett Charles Anthony Elphicke[2] (born 14 March 1971) is a British Conservative Party politician. He is the Member of Parliament (MP) for Dover, having won the seat from Labour at the 2010 general election with 22,174 votes, giving him a majority of 5,274.

Since his election, Elphicke has campaigned for the Port of Dover to become community-owned and for the construction of a hospital in Dover. He has been a leading campaigner for fathers' rights, leading to government adopting his proposal to give children a right to know both of their parents. He is the Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Minister for Europe David Lidington.

Before entering Parliament, Elphicke was a solicitor specialising in tax and wrote a number of papers about economics.


Born in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire,[3] Elphicke was educated at Felsted School in Essex, Cambridge Centre for Sixth-form Studies (CCSS) and at the University of Nottingham.


Prior to entering Parliament, Elphicke was a partner at trans-Atlantic law firm Hunton & Williams. He also had experience working in the pharmaceutical research industry and running a small business.

In 2007 he wrote a report for the centre-right think tank the Centre for Policy Studies showing that whilst income growth for an average household rose by 4.7% from 1997-2001, it only rose by 0.35% in 2006, a slowdown which Elphicke attributed to increased National insurance contributions in 2003.[4] The report also showed that inequality in income had "barely changed" since 1996-1997, though a Treasury spokesman pointed out that the UK continued "to top global investment league tables."[4]


Elphicke was elected to London Borough Council of Lambeth in 1994, representing Gipsy Hill. His election saw the defeat of the Labour Leader of Lambeth Council, Stephen Whaley.[5]

He stood down in 1998 and became Chairman of Dulwich & West Norwood Conservative Association. He served in that position until he was selected as the Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for St Albans, in Hertfordshire in 1999. At the 2001 general election, Labour held the seat with a swing from the Conservatives of 0.7% compared to a swing of 1.7% to the Conservatives nationally, the Liberal vote falling by 3.1%.[6] He was Deputy Chairman of the Cities of London and Westminster Conservative Association from 2002 to 2006.

He was selected as the Conservative candidate for Dover in June 2007.[7] Dover was the safest of Labour's seven seats in Kent.[8] Elphicke won with a 10.4% swing, the 31st largest from Labour to Conservative and the 7th highest figure in the South East excluding the Speaker.[9] Following a study using American subjects and British political candidates, Daily Telegraph Feature Writer, Harry Wallop suggested that "Charlie Elphicke ..won not because of his championing of a community-run port, but because he was better looking."[10]


Elphicke made his maiden speech in a debate on European affairs on 3 June 2010[11] In November, he was named the overall winner at the British Computer Society's MP Web Awards[12] which "recognise MPs who have embraced web technologies, and are using them to engage effectively with their constituents."[13] He was a finalist both in the usability and engagement categories.[13]

On 15 October 2012, Downing Street announced Elphicke’s appointment as Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Minister for Europe David Lidington [14] Reacting to the news of Elphicke’s appointment, his constituency newspaper, the Dover Express, wrote that “Parliamentary Private Secretary roles are unpaid, but often seen as a starting point for many MPs who are looking to become ministers themselves.”[15]

Constituency campaigns[edit]

Elphicke has welcomed the announcement of the building of a new £20m community hospital at Dover as "it would save long journeys to hospitals in other parts of Kent."[16] Work, planned to start in 2009 was delayed because of flood risks but the go ahead was given in 2012.[16]

Elphicke campaigned against the privatisation of the Port of Dover prior to and since his election; he created an alternative proposal, which was put to the residents of Dover in a local referendum in March 2011 who voted by an overwhelming majority in favour of a "people's port" rather than privatisation – 5,244 votes in favour compared to 113 against.[17] He became one of the 8 directors of the People's Port Community Trust who led the campaign to buy the port of Dover for the community.[18]

The People's Port campaign has also interested the Labour Party head of Policy, Dr Jon Cruddas, MP who appears to see it as a mutual ownership model for national assets that could be adopted by the Labour Party.[19] For the Conservatives, Elphicke’s proposal to is seen as a key test of the David Cameron’s Big Society policy.[20] Other Conservatives see Elphicke's proposal as a method of populist privatization. The campaign also has the enthusiastic support of the Blue Labour founder, Lord Glasman, who sees it as "a story about Labour helping workers and exports ...It’s everything Blue Labour stands for."[21]

On 9 April 2014, Shipping and Ports Minister Stephen Hammond MP, visited Dover and paid tribute to Elphicke and the Harbour Board Chair, George Jenkins for progress made "in bridging the divide between port and town." He set out the board structure and steps needed to ensure an enduring solution in the key areas of community involvement, commercial development and regeneration. The trust would be given 'up to date' powers to raise funds for investment.[22] Elphicke said the People's Port Trust priorities were "partnership with the board, a voice for the community in the boardroom, and improvements for Dover with a community fund from the port."[23][24][25]

Fathers' rights[edit]

Elphicke is a prominent campaigner for fathers' rights "leading a campaign by Families Need Fathers" and introducing a private members bill "to change family law and make it a legal right for children to know both of their parents".[26] In the Queen’s Speech of May 10, 2012,[27] the Government announced that they intended to “legislate this area”[28] and on 13 June 2012, Children's Minister Tim Loughton announced that the law would be changed to guarantee children's access to both parents.[29]

Public Administration Select Committee[edit]

Elphicke served as one of eleven members of the Public Administration Select Committee (PASC) from his election until his appointment as a Parliamentary Private Secretary in 2012. The Committee, which scrutinises the civil service called for ministers to accelerate civil service reform.[30] In one investigation, Elphicke looked at civil service credit card receipts obtaining a 1600 page dossier showing Ordnance Survey expenses for 2007-2010 totalling £8.7m. Amongst the items were a stay at hotel Taj Coromandel –also used by Prince Andrew and Bill Clinton which cost £3,037. A further £162 was claimed as “subsidence” at a Caviar House and Loch Fyne restaurant and £166 on designer sunglasses for “staff health and safety” Staff rewards cost a an additional £32,100. In its defence OS claimed that the staff were involved in sales.[31] Other spending included nightclubs, Italian and Indian restaurants and the RAC club.[32]
In October 2012 PASC reviewed the Charities Act 2006, which no longer assumed that advancement of religion was beneficial per se, but had to serve a public interest.[33] Following a tribunal ruling on public interest relating to private schools, the Charity Commission had decided that unlike the Druids, the Plymouth Brethren could not show it provided public worship for all as it was “exclusive”. Secondly they deemed that its doctrine of separation, which limits time members spend with outsiders, may harm rather than benefit family life; though they accepted this was based on possibly outdated criticisms, not evidence.[34] They requested a test case to clarify public benefit. The Commission provided witness protection for former members. Elphicke said the commission was "committed to the suppression of religion".[35]

1922 Committee and the "301 group"[edit]

Elphicke is a "leading light" of the "301 group" of Conservative MPs, so named after the number of MPs required to win a majority at the 2015 General Election and their initial objective was to focus the party's campaigns on bread and butter issues.[36] In May 2012, Elphicke, stood for the post of Secretary [37] of the 1922 Committee. His defeat was seen as a blow to David Cameron though 11 out of the other 12 posts went to new MPs and the election removed most of the "historic trouble makers." [38]

Multinational Company Tax Avoidance Campaign[edit]

Elphicke investigated tax avoidance by American multinational companies and showed (October 2012) that some multinational companies, making billions of pounds of profit in the UK were paying an effective UK tax rate of only 3 per cent.[39] He followed this by calling on George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer to force the companies which included Google, Coca-Cola and Apple Inc [40] to have to state the effective rate of tax they paid on their UK revenues and suggested that Government contracts could be withheld from multinationals who do not pay their fair share of UK Tax.[41]

During the second reading of the Growth and Infrastructure Bill [42] in the House of Commons on 5 November, Elphicke reiterated the rates of tax paid to HMRC by some US multinationals. Many of the leading companies (including Starbucks,[43] Google and have been called to give evidence over this issue, most recently raised by Elphicke, in front of the Public Accounts Select Committee in November 2012. At the same time as Elphicke pushed this issue up the domestic UK news agenda, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne raised it at the G20 meeting in Mexico City.[43] In concert with his German opposite number, Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble Osborne called for action to combat tax avoidance [44] and to force corporations to pay their fair share of tax or face serious consequences.[45][46]

In a debate on Corporate Tax Avoidance on 7 January 2013,[47] MPs highlighted companies who accepted UK Government contracts but paid little or no tax. Elphicke singled out technology companies Oracle, Xerox, Dell, CSC and Symantec who -with a combined turnover of £7 billion -earned almost £0.5B from Government contracts and yet paid no corporation tax whatsoever. Overall he said 10 technology companies receiving over £1.8 billion from the taxpayer paid £78 million in taxes on UK earnings of just over £17.5 billion of turnover. This was “unacceptable, unethical and irresponsible.”[48]

On 24 May 2013 Elphicke wrote an article for the Daily Telegraph where he continued his campaign on multinational tax avoidance; he concluded: “Amazon, Google and Starbucks are just the very small tip of a very, very large iceberg. The tax avoidance culture is deeply ingrained. There needs to be radical action to restore tax fairness and a level competitive playing field for British business. Axing tax breaks, simplification, a 10p business tax rate and international tax reform can and would make our tax system fairer and more competitive.”[49]


Elphicke lives in Dover, Kent, with his wife Natalie, two children and Star, the 2012 Westminster Dog of the Year.[50]


  1. ^ "Charlie Elphicke MP". BBC Democracy Live (BBC). Retrieved 25 July 2010. 
  2. ^;to=2010-05-19;all=returned+westminster/
  3. ^ "Who's Who". Retrieved 2012-11-08. 
  4. ^ a b Conway, Edmund; Wilson, Graeme (15 March 2007). "Brown's tax increases hit family incomes". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 14 June 2012. 
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ "ConservativeHome's Seats & Candidates blog: Charlie Elphicke selected for Dover". 2007-06-23. Retrieved 2012-11-08. 
  8. ^ Newton, Simon (5 May 2010). "Tory Candidate Sails Past Labour In Dover". Sky News. Retrieved 14 June 2012. 
  9. ^ "Pippa Norris Shared Dataset:May 2010 British General Election Constituency results". John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. Retrieved 9 September 2013. 
  10. ^ Harry Wallop (17 September 2012). "The ugly face of British politics: how you look counts". Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 11 November 2012. 
  11. ^ "European Affairs". 3 June 2010. Retrieved 4 November 2013. 
  12. ^ "Elphicke takes top MP web prize". The Guardian (London). 16 November 2011. Retrieved 14 June 2012. 
  13. ^ a b "BCS announces winners of the 2010 MP Web Awards". 15 November 2010. Retrieved 12 November 2012. 
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^ a b "Dover's new community hospital gets go-ahead". BBC news Kent. 26 October 2012. Retrieved 15 November 2013. 
  17. ^ Allegra Stratton (16 May 2011). "Boost for Dover 'people's port' as government announces new rules". The Guardian. Retrieved 24 January 2014. 
  18. ^ "Dover People's port:Who we are". Retrieved 2013-11-04. 
  19. ^
  20. ^ "The Big Society: innovation or slogan?". The Independent (London). 9 February 2011. 
  21. ^ Rowenna Davis (9 November 2012). "Blue Labour, Maurice Glasman and the fight for the "People's Port"". New Statesman. Retrieved 4 November 2013. 
  22. ^ "Stephen Hammond speech:The future of the Port of Dover". 9 April 2014. Retrieved 3 December 2014. 
  23. ^ "Dover port and community 'to work together'". BBC. 9 April 2014. Retrieved 9 April 2014. 
  24. ^
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  26. ^ "MP criticises Coventry soldier child custody case judge". BBC News. 30 March 2011. 
  27. ^ "Queen's Speech 2012 at-a-glance: Bill-by-bill". BBC News. 10 May 2012. 
  28. ^ Ross, Tim (9 May 2012). "Queen's Speech boosts fathers' rights". The Daily Telegraph (London). 
  29. ^ "Warring parents 'play the system' to deny access, minister says". BBC News. 13 June 2012. 
  30. ^
  31. ^ Simon McGee (25 September 2011). "Ordnance Survey staff find their way to caviar on the taxpayer". Sunday Times. Retrieved 2 December 2014. 
  32. ^ Simon McGee (23 October 2011). "Top civil servant’s gay nights on public purse". Sunday Times. Retrieved 2 December 2014. 
  33. ^
  34. ^
  35. ^
  36. ^ James Forsyth (16 May 2012). "The 301 Group purge the 1922 committee". The Spectator. Retrieved 2 December 2014. 
  37. ^
  38. ^
  39. ^ Roland Watson (30 October 2012). "Foreign companies ‘avoid billions in corporation tax’". The Times. Retrieved 2 December 2014. 
  40. ^
  41. ^
  42. ^
  43. ^ a b
  44. ^
  45. ^
  46. ^
  47. ^
  48. ^ Paul Kunert (8 January 2013). "Oracle, Dell, CSC, Xerox, Symantec accused of paying ZERO UK tax:MPs reel off more 'unethical' titans 'avoiding bills on industrial scale'". The Channel. Retrieved 3 December 2014. 
  49. ^ Charlie Elphicke (24 May 2013). "Don't yell at Google. Just make taxes lower, simpler and fit for the internet age". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 9 December 2014. 
  50. ^ "Westminster Dog of the Year: Charlie Elphicke and Star". BBC News. 25 October 2012. 

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Gwyn Prosser
Member of Parliament for Dover