James Wharton

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James Wharton
MP
Jameswhartonmp.png
Member of Parliament
for Stockton South
Incumbent
Assumed office
6 May 2010
Preceded by Dari Taylor
Majority 332 (0.7%)
Personal details
Born (1984-02-16) 16 February 1984 (age 30)
Wolviston, County Durham, England[1]
Nationality British
Political party Conservative
Residence Eaglescliffe, County Durham
Alma mater Durham University
Occupation Solicitor
Website jameswharton.co.uk

James Stephen Wharton (born 16 February 1984) is a British Conservative Party politician.. He has been the Member of Parliament of his home constituency of Stockton South since the 2010 general election, having defeated the sitting Labour MP Dari Taylor by 332 votes.

Early life[edit]

James Wharton grew up in Wolviston, County Durham.[2] He went to the independent Yarm School and St Peter's School, York followed by Durham University where he studied Law[3] and was a member of the Officers' Training Corps (OTC) (part of the Northumbrian UOTC).[4] Following his graduation from Durham he studied the Legal Practice Course at The College of Law in York and qualified as a solicitor with BHP Law, a firm in the Northeast.

Parliamentary career[edit]

Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove MP, with the Conservative Member of Parliament for Stockton South, James Wharton, and two students from Conyers School in Yarm, North Yorkshire.
Education Secretary Michael Gove with James Wharton MP, Member of Youth Parliament Jessica Belch and students at Conyers School in Yarm.

At 30, he is one of the youngest MPs in the House of Commons and is the youngest Conservative MP in the current parliament. From his election in May 2010 to November 2012, Wharton sat on the Public Accounts Committee.

After being elected MP for Stockton South, Wharton made stated his opposition to development occurring in Preston Park. The plans backed by Wharton's predecessor Dari Taylor, included relocating Egglescliffe School to the park. Wharton accused the Conservative led Stockton Borough Council of refusing to listen to the "democratic will of local people."[5]

After a developer withdrew its £750,000 investment to regenerate Thornaby Town Hall, Wharton called for the building to be given back to the Town Council. Originally the building did belong to the Town Council; however due to local government reorganisations, it was taken on by Stockton Borough Council. In 2012 the Town Council purchased the building from the borough council with the hope of enabling the building and the surrounding area to be restored.[6]

Wharton was one of 53 Conservative MPs who voted against the Government in favour of an amendment calling for a cut in the EU budget from 2014.[7] Wharton claimed that his decision was "right for the British people and right for the nation's interests."[8]

EU Referendum Bill[edit]

On 16 May 2013, Wharton came top of a ballot of backbench MPs which entitled him to introduce a Private Member's Bill during the 2013–14 parliamentary session. He chose to address the issue of a referendum on Britain's membership of the European Union by attempting to enshrine the Conservative Party Position into law. He faced criticism from opposition MPs for taking on the EU Referendum Bill as his Private Members Bill and it was suggested by them that the move may have been more advantageous to his political career than of direct benefit to his constituents.[9] Wharton himself had previously suggested that too much time was spent debating the issue of Europe, but has since argued that his Private Member's Bill was designed to put the issue to rest.[10]

After the bill failed to pass the House of Lords, Wharton blamed Labour and Liberal Democrat obstructionism; however the Liberal Democrats argued that the Conservatives themselves had not assigned the bill enough time whilst Labour responded by stating that the bill was in the Conservative Parties interest rather than the national one.[11] Following the failure of his private members bill, Wharton received a huge upswing in donations.[12]

Voting record[edit]

Wharton voted against the legalisation of gay marriage by voting opposing the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill in May 2013[13] Wharton also supported increasing VAT to 20%, the increase in university tuition fees, for greater autonomy for schools and for automatic enrolment in occupational pensions. Wharton voted against taxing bankers' bonuses.[14] Wharton voted strongly for the bedroom tax.[15] Wharton is a loyalist who rarely rebels against the Conservative party whip.[16]

Schools funding[edit]

Wharton has publicly campaigned for investment in education in his constituency. He brought the Education Secretary to visit on a number of occasions and funding was agreed to refurbish Ian Ramsey and Grangefield schools in Stockton.[17] The Plans for Ian Ramsey School were approved in May 2013.[18]

Local Growth Fund Grant to Tees Valley[edit]

Wharton welcomed an announcement that over £90m was to be invested in the Tees Valley area by the government in July 2014 [19] creating 1,000 jobs and specifically securing funding for road improvements in Ingleby Barwick in his constituency following campaigning by Wharton and local Councillors from Ingleby Barwick Independent Society (IBIS).[20]

Tees Valley City Deal[edit]

Plans for a City Deal for the Tees Valley were announced by Prime Minister David Cameron in a visit with Wharton to (Eaglescliffe) in December 2013.[21] Wharton was the first to call for the City Deal and supported a bid.[22] The City Deal itself was agreed and signed on 16 June 2014 [23] at a ceremony which Wharton attended.

Visits to Sri Lanka[edit]

Wharton made four visits to Sri Lanka across a period of nine months, including as a delegate of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, with the charity International Alert and as a guest of the Sri Lankan Government. On one visit, Wharton met the Sri Lankan Defence Secretary. Although Wharton's constituency, Stockton South, features no significant Sri Lankan community, nearby Darlington company Cleveland Bridge has significant interests there and secured a £35m order to rebuild bridges across Sri Lanka, securing 100 jobs.[24] Wharton had suggested that his activities in Sri Lanka would encourage bilateral business agreements.

Controversies[edit]

Trocabart grant controversy[edit]

In 2010, Wharton attempted Conservative Town Councillor Jason Hadlow's company Trocabart, secure £30,000 in aid from the former Regional Development Agency, One North East. The business failed and had now been closed.[25] He claimed that his only motivation was to promote the growth of jobs in the Teesside area. There has been no evidence of any financial connection between Wharton and the firm.[26]

Threats of Legal Action Against Grandmother[edit]

In July 2011, Wharton was embroiled into a row over plans he was backing to convert a local children's play park into a Boules Pitch. Local resident Carole Jones campaigned to save the park and produced a satirical cartoon which allegedly caricatured Wharton as evil genius "W" planning to concrete over Snaith's Field. The cartoons which were displayed as posters in the local park were reportedly ripped down by Wharton who then sent a threatening email to the grandmother: "I will … be taking advice on the libellous cartoons you have been distributing and you can expect to hear from my solicitors in due course. You have damaged my reputation by making untrue inferences and it is time you were taken up on your lies".[27][28]

Ministerial visit controversy[edit]

In July 2014, Wharton was accused of attending a neighbouring constituency to take part in a photo call at the new Hitachi factory in Phil Wilson's Sedgefield constituency. Parliamentary protocol insists that MPs inform a colleague if they intend to visit their seat. Wharton explained that his only role was to act as a chauffeur and "drop off" Brandon Lewis, but that when he spent some time at the site he contacted Wilson to let him know he had attended. Photos later emerged of him taking part in the visit and photo calls.[29]

Data protection and Alleged Racial Profiling[edit]

In August 2014, Wharton wrote to selected residents in his constituency about the conflict in Gaza and Israel. Allegations were made that the "letter [had] only been sent to those residents who may reasonably be expected to be Muslims, based only on their names", which would potentially breach the data protection act.[30] Wharton denied the allegations.

Expenses[edit]

In November 2013 Wharton was listed as one of the MPs who claimed expenses for energy costs incurred at his second home.[31] Wharton claimed back £403.90 for Energy costs for the home he occupies when not at his Eaglescliffe residence.[32]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Who's Who". Ukwhoswho.com. 
  2. ^ "James Wharton starts new life by sleeping on a pal's sofa". Gazette Live. Retrieved 7 November 2010. 
  3. ^ "Durham Law School – Durham University". Dur.ac.uk. Retrieved 7 November 2010. 
  4. ^ "Northumbrian – British Army Website". Army.mod.uk. Retrieved 7 November 2010. 
  5. ^ "Evening Gazette – Stockton South’s new MP pledges to save Preston Park". Retrieved 10 May 2010. 
  6. ^ "Evening Gazette – Give Thornaby Town Hall to people says MP". Retrieved 19 May 2011. 
  7. ^ Owen, Paul (1 November 2012). "The Guardian – Full list of Tory EU budget rebels". London. Retrieved 31 October 2012. 
  8. ^ James Wharton MP: The voters will punish MPs who oppose my EU referendum bill. Telegraph.
  9. ^ South MP defends decision to seek EU Referendum. Thenorthernecho.co.uk (17 May 2013).
  10. ^ EU referendum bill to be put forward by Tory MP | Politics. theguardian.com.
  11. ^ http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-25977258
  12. ^ http://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/north-east-news/tory-donors-flooding-north-cash-6594702
  13. ^ http://www.publicwhip.org.uk/division.php?date=2013-05-21&number=11&mpn=James_Wharton&mpc=Stockton_South&house=commons.
  14. ^ http://www.publicwhip.org.uk/mp.php?mpn=James_Wharton&mpc=Stockton_South&house=commons&dmp=6685
  15. ^ http://www.publicwhip.org.uk/mp.php?mpid=40580&dmp=6672.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  16. ^ James Wharton. They Work For You.
  17. ^ http://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/news/local/teesvalley/hartlepool/10432821.Plans_for_multi_million_pound_secondary_school_rebuild_to_be_considered/
  18. ^ http://www.gazettelive.co.uk/news/new-ian-ramsey-cofe-school-4033628
  19. ^ http://www.gazettelive.co.uk/news/teesside-news/government-investing-millions-make-teesside-7380229
  20. ^ http://www.gazettelive.co.uk/news/teesside-news/ingleby-barwick-residents-welcome-23m-7381782
  21. ^ http://www.gazettelive.co.uk/news/teesside-news/david-cameron-visits-tetley-eaglescliffe-6403335
  22. ^ http://www.itv.com/news/tyne-tees/update/2013-02-19/mp-welcomes-tees-valleys-city-deal-progress/
  23. ^ http://www.gazettelive.co.uk/business/business-news/teesside-praised-middlesbrough-born-minister-government-7276008
  24. ^ http://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/news/10429471.Cleveland_Bridge_lands___35m_order_from_Sri_Lanka/
  25. ^ "Stockton Tory MP's bid to get cash for his pal". 
  26. ^ Stockton Tory MP's bid to get cash for his pal. Chronicle Live (29 August 2010).
  27. ^ "Bully MP threatens to sue Granny for drawing a cartoon of him". Political Scrap Book. 25 July 2011. Retrieved 14 September 2014. 
  28. ^ Chris, Webber (25 July 2011). "Boules row MP threatens to sue activist". The Northern Echo. Newsquest. Retrieved 14 September 2014. 
  29. ^ Glover, Andrew (Jul 9, 2014). "Chauffeur or gatecrasher? Westminster row as Phil Wilson accuses James Wharton of hijacking jobs photocall for THIS pic". Gazette Live. Trinity Mirror. Retrieved Jul 9, 2014. 
  30. ^ Mike, Blackburn (Aug 20, 2014). "MP denies picking out people with 'Muslim' names for leaflet drop about Gaza conflict". Gazette Live. Trinity Mirror. Retrieved Aug 20, 2014. 
  31. ^ Does your MP claim energy bills on expenses? Full list and interactive map
  32. ^ Taxpayers pay MPs' energy bills on second homes

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Dari Taylor
Member of Parliament for Stockton South
2010 – present
Incumbent