Hilary Benn

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The Right Honourable
Hilary Benn
MP
Hilary Benn.jpg
Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government
Incumbent
Assumed office
7 October 2011
Leader Ed Miliband
Preceded by Caroline Flint
Shadow Leader of the House of Commons
In office
8 October 2010 – 7 October 2011
Leader Ed Miliband
Preceded by Rosie Winterton
Succeeded by Angela Eagle
Secretary of State for Environment,
Food and Rural Affairs
In office
28 June 2007 – 11 May 2010
Prime Minister Gordon Brown
Preceded by David Miliband
Succeeded by Caroline Spelman
Secretary of State for International Development
In office
6 October 2003 – 28 June 2007
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Preceded by The Baroness Amos
Succeeded by Douglas Alexander
Member of Parliament
for Leeds Central
Incumbent
Assumed office
10 June 1999
Preceded by Derek Fatchett
Majority 10,645 (28.5%)
Personal details
Born Hilary James Wedgwood Benn
(1953-11-26) 26 November 1953 (age 61)
Hammersmith, London, England
Political party Labour
Spouse(s) Rosalind Caroline Retey (1973-1979)
Sally Christina Clark (1982-present) [1]
Relations Tony Benn (father, deceased)
Caroline Benn
(mother, deceased)
Children Michael, James, Jonathan, Caroline[citation needed]
Alma mater University of Sussex
Website Official website

Hilary James Wedgwood Benn (born 26 November 1953) is a British Labour Party politician who has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Leeds Central since 1999. He served in the Cabinet as the Secretary of State for International Development from 2003 to 2007 and as the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs from 2007 to 2010. Currently, Benn is the Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.

Early life[edit]

Born in Hammersmith, London, the second son of former Labour Cabinet Minister Tony Benn and educationalist Caroline Benn. Benn is a fourth generation MP - apart from his father, his grandfather Lord Stansgate, and his great grandfathers Sir John Benn and Daniel Holmes were all Members of Parliament, mostly with factions of the Liberal Party.[2] He attended Norland Place School, Westminster Under School, Holland Park School and University of Sussex where he graduated in Russian and East European Studies. Benn has an older brother, Stephen Benn, 3rd Viscount Stansgate, a younger sister Melissa and younger brother, Joshua.[3]

Member of Parliament[edit]

On leaving university, Benn became a Research Officer with the ASTMS and rose to become Head of Policy for Manufacturing Science and Finance. In 1980 he was seconded to the Labour Party to act as Joint Secretary to the finance panel of the Labour Party Commission of Inquiry. In 1979 he was elected to the Ealing Borough Council where he was Deputy Leader from 1986 to 1990. He was the Labour candidate for Ealing North in both the 1983 general election and 1987 general election. On both occasions he was defeated by the Conservative candidate Harry Greenway.

When Labour won power in 1997, Benn was appointed Special Adviser to David Blunkett as Secretary of State for Education and Employment. In 1999 he was quickly selected as the Labour candidate for the Leeds Central by-election, 1999 following the death of Derek Fatchett. Benn won the by-election on 10 June 1999 on a very small turnout, by just over 2,000 votes. He made his maiden speech on 23 June 1999.

In government[edit]

Hilary Benn has held the following positions[citation needed]:

Bid for deputy leadership[edit]

In 2007 Benn was the bookmakers' favourite for the Deputy Leadership of the Labour Party.[4] The early polls in the Deputy Leadership contest showed him to be the grassroots' favourite - in a YouGov poll of party members, Benn was top on 27%, followed by Education Secretary Alan Johnson on 18%, Environment Secretary David Miliband on 17%, Justice Minister Harriet Harman on 10%, and Labour Party Chair Hazel Blears on 7%.[5] The contest was formally launched on 14 May 2007 after the resignation of incumbent Deputy leader John Prescott, Benn had some initial difficulties securing the necessary 45 nominations required to get on the ballot paper but he acquired the support needed to join five other candidates - Hazel Blears, Harriet Harman, Alan Johnson, Peter Hain and backbencher Jon Cruddas.[6][7] Supporting nominations from constituency Labour Parties showed Hilary Benn obtaining 25%, Jon Cruddas 22%, Harriet Harman 19%, Alan Johnson 14%, Hazel Blears 12% and Peter Hain 8% of the constituency parties that voted. The Labour leadership contest closed on Sunday 24 June 2007 with Harriet Harman winning the contest. Benn was eliminated in the 3rd round of voting having reached a total of 22.33% of the votes. Harriet Harman was elected in the 5th round with 50.43% of the vote.

Bovine TB[edit]

As Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, it was the responsibility of Hilary Benn to respond to the threat to UK cattle from Mycobacterium bovis, colloquially referred to as Bovine Tuberculosis (TB). The recommended option[citation needed] from the Chief Scientific Advisor until 2007, Sir David King, was a badger cull.

In July 2008, in a House of Commons debate after Hilary Benn had made clear that a badger cull would not be pursued[citation needed], Anne Snelgrove (Labour) asked:

Was one of the practicalities that he envisaged that, in constituencies such as mine, with a densely populated centre surrounded by great swathes of countryside, it would be very difficult to undertake a cull and persuade people in the densely populated centre that that was the right thing to do?[8]

Hilary Benn replied:

That was one factor that I was bound to take into account in reaching my decision, because there are strong views on all sides and public opinion can have an impact on the practicality of a cull. It was entirely legitimate for that to be one of the factors that I weighed up in my mind, but above all the decision has been taken as a result of the science.[8]

In April 2010, a badger cull was announced in Wales, after the high court in Cardiff rejected a legal challenge from The Badger Trust.[citation needed]

Expenses[edit]

Hilary Benn was picked out by several national newspapers as one of only three senior members of the Labour Party to have presented expenses beyond reproach. "When all Westminster MPs' total expenditures are ranked, Benn's bill is the 15th least expensive for the taxpayer," said The Guardian.[9]

War on Waste[edit]

Relating to the huge amounts of food wasted (according to WRAP 33% of all food produced), Hilary Benn launched the "War on Waste" programme to reduce this amount.[10] Whilst Benn proposed to scrap the "best before" date altogether, others proposed enhancing the validity date with other solutions such as time temperature indicators.

In opposition[edit]

Benn briefly served as Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in 2010 during Harriet Harman's interim leadership of the Labour Party. In Ed Miliband's first Shadow Cabinet, announced on 8 October 2010, he was appointed Shadow Leader of the House of Commons. When Miliband reshuffled his team on 7 October 2011, he was named Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.

Personal life[edit]

In 1973, whilst at university, he married fellow student Rosalind Retey, who died of cancer at age 26 in 1979;[11] Benn subsequently married Sally Christina Clark in 1982.[12] He has four children.[citation needed]

Benn strongly resembles his father, Tony Benn, in his speaking style and delivery, but is a political centrist and was a New Labour loyalist. It is in this vein that he famously describes himself as "a Benn, but not a Bennite".[13] Like his father, he is a teetotaller and a vegetarian.[14]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.ukwhoswho.com/view/article/oupww/whoswho/U7219/
  2. ^ Harry Cole. "Keeping it in the Family". Archived from the original on 20 February 2007. 
  3. ^ Benn, Anthony (1995). The Benn Diaries. Winstone: Ruth ed. Hutchinson. p. 25. ISBN 0-09-1792231. 
  4. ^ "Blears 8/1 For Deputy Labour Leader". CasinoTimes.co.uk. Casino Times. 17 February 2007. Archived from the original on 20 February 2007. Retrieved 11 October 2008. 
  5. ^ Wells, Anthony (8 September 2006). "YouGov polls on the Labour leadership". UK Polling Report. Anthony Wells. Archived from the original on 4 October 2006. Retrieved 11 October 2008. 
  6. ^ "Benn short of backers". BBC News. 16 May 2007. Archived from the original on 18 August 2007. Retrieved 17 May 2007. 
  7. ^ "Deputy hopefuls make their case". BBC News. 17 May 2007. Archived from the original on 27 May 2007. Retrieved 17 May 2007. 
  8. ^ a b //web.archive.org/web/20090130121303/http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200708/cmhansrd/cm080707/debtext/80707-0006.htm |chapter-url= missing title (help). Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). House of Commons. 7 July 2008. col. 1165. Archived from the original on 12 July 2008. 
  9. ^ Allegra Stratton (8 May 2009). "Bargain Benn, modest Miliband (Ed, not David)". The Guardian (London). Archived from the original on 11 May 2009. Retrieved 12 May 2009. 
  10. ^ Shields, Rachel (7 June 2009). "Kitchen bin war: tackling the food waste mountain". The Independent (London). Archived from the original on 8 June 2009. Retrieved 4 May 2010. 
  11. ^ Benn,, Anthony (1995). The Benn Diaries. Ruth ed. (Winstone: Hutchinson). p. 476. ISBN 0-09-1792231. 
  12. ^ Benn, Anthony (1995). The Benn Diaries. Ruth ed. (Winstone: Hutchinson). p. 538. ISBN 0-09-1792231. 
  13. ^ "Profile: Hilary Benn". BBC News (BBC). 24 June 2007. Archived from the original on 8 August 2003. Retrieved 11 October 2008. 
  14. ^ Ashley, Jackie (9 November 2006). "'I'm not a natural rebel'". The Guardian (London: Guardian News & Media). Archived from the original on 5 September 2008. Retrieved 11 October 2008. 

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Derek Fatchett
Member of Parliament for Leeds Central
1999–present
Incumbent
Political offices
Preceded by
The Baroness Amos
Secretary of State for International Development
2003–2007
Succeeded by
Douglas Alexander
Preceded by
David Miliband
Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
2007–2010
Succeeded by
Caroline Spelman
Preceded by
Rosie Winterton
Shadow Leader of the House of Commons
2010–2011
Succeeded by
Angela Eagle
Preceded by
Caroline Flint
Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government
2011–present
Incumbent