Richard Benyon

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This article is about the current MP for Newbury. For other uses, see Richard Benyon (disambiguation).
Richard Benyon
MP
Richard Benyon Official.jpg
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Natural Environment and Fisheries
In office
6 June 2010 – 7 October 2013
Prime Minister David Cameron
Member of Parliament
for Newbury
Incumbent
Assumed office
5 May 2005
Preceded by David Rendel
Majority 12,248 (20.9%)
Personal details
Born (1960-10-21) 21 October 1960 (age 54)[1]
Reading, Berkshire, England
Nationality British
Political party Conservative
Spouse(s) Emma Villiers, (Div)
Zoe Robinson
Children First marriage: 3xsons
Current marriage: 2xsons
Residence Englefield House
Alma mater Royal Agricultural College
Signature
Website www.richardbenyon.com
Military service
Service/branch British Army
Years of service 1980 - 1985
Unit Royal Green Jackets

Richard Henry Ronald Benyon MRICS[2] (born 21 October 1960[1]) is a British Conservative Party politician. He has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Newbury since 2005 and was a Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs from May 2010 to October 2013.[3]

Early life[edit]

Benyon was born in Reading, the son of Sir William Benyon, a Conservative Member of Parliament from 1970 until 1992,[4] (and great-great grandson of former Conservative Prime Minister Lord Salisbury[5]), and was educated at nearby Bradfield College and the Royal Agricultural College. He served in the Royal Green Jackets for five years from 1980 to 1985.

Political career[edit]

He was elected in 1991 to Newbury District Council, and became Conservative group leader in 1994, in opposition to the then-ruling Liberal Democrats. He lost his council seat in 1995. He contested Newbury at the 1997 General Election but lost heavily to the 1993 by-election incumbent Liberal Democrat David Rendel. Benyon and Rendel contested Newbury again at the 2001 General Election, and Rendel came out again as the victor with a reduced majority. It proved third time lucky for Benyon, when he and Rendel again contested Newbury at the 2005 UK general election and Benyon was elected with a majority of 3,460, replacing Rendel.

Benyon made his maiden speech on 20 May 2005 and served on the Home Affairs Select Committee from 2005 to 2007, when he became an Opposition Whip. He was the Shadow Minister for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs from 2009 until the 2010 general election when he entered government. He was also one of the first 15 MPs to support David Cameron's Conservative Party leadership bid.

In May 2009, he was listed by The Telegraph as one of the "saints" in the expenses scandal.[6]

He was made Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in the first Cameron Ministry.[7] and remained in post until the junior and middle ranking Cameron reshuffle of October 2013.[8]

Controversies[edit]

In 2012 while Wildlife Minister he refused a request from other MPs that possession of carbofuran, a deadly poison used to kill raptors that is banned in Canada and the European Union, should be made a criminal offence.[9] Green Party MP Caroline Lucas was quoted as saying: "The minister's shocking refusal to outlaw the possession of a poison used only by rogue gamekeepers to illegally kill birds of prey would be inexplicable were it not for his own cosy links to the shooting lobby."[9]

Also in 2012, Benyon's neighbours complained when Hanson Aggregates were given permission to extract 200,000 tonnes of sand and gravel a year from woodlands on Benyon's family estate, leading it to be described as a bombsite.[10] Benyon said that the estate was controlled by a family trust.[10]

In 2013 Benyon succeeded in preventing any cuts in fishing quotas. He claimed that if British fishermen had their quotas cut they would dump even more fish overboard, and the more fish they are allowed to catch, the better it will be for “the health of our seas”. Back in 2004, the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution proposed that 30% of the United Kingdom’s waters should become reserves preventing fishing or any other kind of extraction.[11]

Also in 2013 Benyon's policy relating to access to rivers and his role as an owner of fishing rights was criticised. Writing in The Guardian, George Monbiot wrote that he "repeatedly wields his power in ways that promote his own interests" and being "so enmeshed in potential conflicts of interest that were he to recuse himself from all the issues in which he has a personal stake, he would have nothing to do but order the departmental paperclips".[12]

Personal life[edit]

He married his first wife, Emma Helen Villiers in 1988, and they had three children before divorcing in 2003. He presently lives in the family estate of Englefield House, with his second wife Zoe (née Robinson) and their two sons.[13]

Benyon is a director of the family controlled Englefield Charitable Trust. He is one of nine Vice-Presidents of Berkshire County Scout Council. His personal wealth is estimated at £110m, making him the richest MP in the House of Commons.[14]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Democracy Live: Your representatives: Richard Benyon". BBC News. Retrieved 21 November 2012. 
  2. ^ http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/sites/default/files/resources/ministers-interests.pdf
  3. ^ "Coalition government reshuffle". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 October 2013. 
  4. ^ http://www.scribd.com/doc/207917124/Keeping-it-in-the-Family
  5. ^ "General Election 2005 Research Paper". House of Commons Library. 
  6. ^ "MPs' Expenses: the saints". London: The Telegraph. 18 May 2009. Retrieved 1 July 2009. 
  7. ^ http://conservativehome.blogs.com/thetorydiary/2010/05/fuller-list-of-junior-appointments.html
  8. ^ "Reshuffle Day sees Cameron promote northerners, Miliband lurches left and Clegg sends a conspiracy theorist to Home Office". Daily Mail (London). 
  9. ^ a b Michael McCarthy, "Fury at minister Richard Benyon's 'astounding' refusal to ban deadly bird poison", independent.co.uk, 20 October 2012. Accessed 20 October 2012.
  10. ^ a b Tom Rowley (9 December 2012). "Environment Minister Richard Benyon's family estate to destroy 218 acres of woodland". Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 9 December 2012. 
  11. ^ Monbiot, George. "Ship-Wrecked". Retrieved 11 February 2013. 
  12. ^ Monbiot, George (4 April 2013). "We have no right to our rivers while Richard Benyon's interests are served". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 7 April 2013. 
  13. ^ Robert Verkaik (27 February 2011). "Wealthy minister earns £2m subsidies in EU farm subsidies which his department tried to cover up". London: Daily Mail. Retrieved 27 February 2011. 
  14. ^ "Rich politicians: Times lists wealthy MPs and peers". BBC news. 26 April 2013. Retrieved 26 April 2013. 

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
David Rendel
Member of Parliament for Newbury
2005–present
Incumbent