|Minister of State for Immigration|
4 September 2012
|Prime Minister||David Cameron|
|Preceded by||Damian Green|
|Parliamentary Under Secretary for Constitutional and Political Reform|
11 May 2010 – 4 September 2012
|Preceded by||Office Created|
|Succeeded by||Chloe Smith|
|Member of Parliament
for Forest of Dean
5 May 2005
|Prime Minister||David Cameron|
|Preceded by||Diana Mary Organ|
26 February 1970 |
Swindon, Wiltshire, England
|Alma mater||Brasenose College, Oxford|
Mark James Harper (born 26 February 1970) is a British politician and self-employed accountant (non-practising). He is the Conservative Member of Parliament for Forest of Dean and is currently the Minister of State for Immigration.
Early life and career
Born in Swindon, Wiltshire, he was educated at the Headlands Comprehensive School and Swindon College. He then studied philosophy, politics and economics at Brasenose College, Oxford, where like David Cameron he studied under Professor Vernon Bogdanor. From 1991 to 2000, he worked for KPMG. From 2000 to 2002, he worked for his own accountancy practice 
Harper became the treasurer of the Swindon Conservative Association in 1993, and from 1997 to the new Swindon South Conservative Association, becoming the vice chairman for a year in 1998. He contested the Gloucestershire seat of Forest of Dean at the 2001 General Election but was defeated by the sitting Labour MP Diana Organ by 2,049 votes. Organ retired at the 2005 General Election and Harper gained the seat for the Conservatives with a majority of 2,049, exactly the same number of votes by which he was defeated at the previous election. In the 2010 General election, Harper was re-elected as member for the Forest of Dean with 46.81% of the vote increasing his majority to over 11,000.
Harper made his maiden speech on 24 May 2005, in which he concentrated on the education needs of his constituents with learning disabilities. In Parliament, he served on the administration select committee from 2005 to 2006.
In December 2005 he was promoted to the front bench by David Cameron as a spokesman on defence and Veterans. On 15 May 2006, he hosted the first Conservative Party Veterans' Summit, bringing together organisations from across the country to discuss the issues facing war veterans and established a platform from which to develop Conservative Party policy on the issue.. On 11 April 2007, Cameron appointed Harper Shadow Minister for Forces Families & Welfare. In July 2007, Harper was appointed Shadow Minister for Disabled People in Cameron's frontbench reshuffle.
Harper was appointed junior minister for Political and Constitutional Reform, in the Cabinet Office in May 2010. He worked with Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg on the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act 2011 which enabled the Alternative Vote referendum and changes to the number and size of constituencies.
Characterisation of people collecting disability benefits
On 10 September 2010, Harper stated on the BBC Radio 4 programme Any Questions? that "There are definitely some people in our country, and everyone in every community knows who they are, who are able to work, and don't". After chairman Shaun Ley challenged these words as being "outrageous", Harper repeated the notion, saying, "Everybody knows them, able-bodied people..."
Proposed sale of public forests
Harper defended the proposals, describing them as an "exciting opportunity for community ownership." However, they were widely criticised by many residents within his constituency and by politicians with connections to the Forest of Dean, most notably Baroness Jan Royall, Leader of the Opposition in the House of Lords. She described Harper as 'fundamentally wrong' and his views on the subject as 'utter nonsense'.
Following a public meeting after which Harper had to be rescued by police and a sustained national campaign which included the newly formed local Forest of Dean pressure group Hands off our Forest, the government announced it had abandoned its plans and would remove the forestry clauses from the Public Bodies Bill.
'Go Home' ad campaign targeting illegal immigration
As immigration minister Harper approved and launched the "Go Home" ad campaign that consisted of marked vans driving around suburbs with high proportions of ethnic minorities with the sign "Here Illegally? Go Home or Risk Arrest." The campaign was widely criticised by many politicians on both sides of the political spectrum including Nigel Farage who called it "nasty". Mike Jones, from the Public and Commercial Services Union described the campaign as beneficial to "rightwing racist and fascist organisations such as the BNP, EDL, EVF and others."
- BBC, Democracy Live
- Mark Harper chooses not to disclose the names of his parents to Who's who. He was married in 1999 to Margaret Whelan.
- Cabinet Office (1 November 2012). "Government ministers and responsibilities - Publications - Inside Government - GOV.UK". Cabinetoffice.gov.uk. Retrieved 25 June 2013.
- Wintour, Patrick (12 August 2010). "Mark Harper backs first-past-the-post: meet the man reshaping our politics". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 20 December 2010.
- Who's who gives work history.
- Leighton, Neil (6 May 2005). "Tug-of-war seat returns to Tories". BBC News.
- Department of the Official Report (Hansard), House of Commons, Westminster (24 May 2005). "House of Commons Hansard Debates for 24 May 2005 (pt 16)". Publications.parliament.uk. Retrieved 25 June 2013.
- Vern Pitt (11 February 2010). "Interview: Mark Harper, Conservative disability spokesperson". CommunityCare.co.uk. Retrieved 20 December 2010.
- "Constitutional Reform - Who's who". Cabinet Office. Retrieved 20 December 2010.
- "Any Questions?". BBC. 10 September 2010. Retrieved 11 January 2011.
- www.parliament.uk Public Bodies Bill
- The Forest and Wye Valley Review, 19 November 2010, page 15
- www.thisisgloucestershire.co.uk Support grows against Forest sell off
- www.thisisgloucestershire.co.uk Hands off our Forest
- The Forester, Hands off our Forest
- Forest and Wye Valley Review, 26 November 2010, page 12
- Chepstow Today 'Utter nonsense'
- Robert Mendick and Rebecca Lefort (5 February 2011). "Minister confronted by protesters as tempers flare over forest sell-off". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 12 February 2011.
- Watt, Nicholas (17 February 2011). "Forest sell-off abandoned: I'm sorry, I got it wrong, says Caroline Spelman". The Guardian (London).
- BBC News video
- BBC News
- Matthew Taylor, Mirren Gidda and Rajeev Syal (26 July 2013). "'Go home' ad campaign targeting illegal immigrants faces court challenge". Guardian newspapers. Retrieved 26 July2013.
- Mark Harper MP official constituency website
- Profile at the Conservative Party
- Profile at the Cabinet Office
- Profile at Parliament of the United Kingdom
- Contributions in Parliament at Hansard 1803–2005
- 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
- Forest of Dean Conservatives
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
|Member of Parliament for Forest of Dean
|Shadow Minister for Defence
|Shadow Minister for the Disabled