Alex Chalk

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Alex Chalk

Official portrait of Alex Chalk crop 2.jpg
Chalk in 2017
Member of Parliament
for Cheltenham
Assumed office
7 May 2015
Preceded byMartin Horwood
Majority2,569 (4.5%)
Personal details
Born
Alexander John Gervase Chalk

(1976-08-08) 8 August 1976 (age 42)
Foxcote, Gloucestershire, England
NationalityBritish
Political partyConservative
Children2
ParentsGilbert John Chalk (father)
Gillian Frances Audrey Blois (mother)
ResidenceCharlton Kings, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire
Alma materMagdalen College, Oxford
City University London
Websitewww.alexchalk.com

Alexander John Gervase Chalk (born 8 August 1976) is a British Conservative Party politician and former lawyer who was elected as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Cheltenham in 2015. Chalk is a Member of the Criminal Bar Association and the Serious Fraud Office Panel of Counsel, and sat on the Justice Select Committee. He was re-elected in the 2017 general election.

Early life and career[edit]

Chalk was born on the 8 August 1976 in the village of Foxcote, Gloucestershire, England, where he also grew up.[1][2] He was privately educated at Winchester College before studying Modern History at Magdalen College, Oxford.[3][4] Chalk's parents are Gilbert John Chalk and Gillian Frances Audrey Blois.[5]

Following graduation, Chalk obtained a Graduate Diploma in Law from the City University London, and qualified as a barrister from the Inns of Court School of Law. During his legal career, he has prosecuted and defended in cases concerning terrorism, international fraud, and homicide. He has also advised and defended corporate clients, and prosecuted for HM Revenue and Customs and the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills. He represented journalists during the phone-hacking scandal.[6] Chalk has provided counsel for the human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, an Iranian prisoner of conscience.[7]

Political career[edit]

Chalk was first elected as a Conservative councillor for Shepherds Bush Green ward on Hammersmith and Fulham Council in May 2006. He went on to stand successfully in Addison ward in 2010, with Labour taking his former Shepherds Bush Green seat in the same election. He did not stand for re-election in 2014.[8] [9] Whilst on the Council he chaired the Planning Committee for four years.[10][non-primary source needed][11]

During the 2015 general election campaign, Chalk received support from the pro-hunting group Vote-OK,[12] with members volunteering to deliver leaflets for him.[13] In May 2017, Liberal Democrats candidate Martin Horwood said that Chalk was being actively supported by members of pro-hunting organisations Vale of White Horse Hunt, North Cotswold Hunt and Vote-OK, and questioned whether Chalk was concealing his position on fox hunting. Horwood noted that when asked to say yes or no to keeping the hunting ban, Chalk replied "free vote" in 2015 but replied "pass" in 2017.[14]

Chalk was among several Conservative candidates from the 2015 general election under investigation for breaking local campaign spending limits.[15] This related to the use of "Battle Buses" during his election campaign, the costs of which were not declared by Chalk's campaign but were instead paid for by the Conservatives' national headquarters. Had the costs been declared the strict local spending limit would have been exceeded by £1,500.[15] Gloucestershire Constabulary confirmed they had received a complaint in 2016 and he was under investigation at the time.[15] In March 2017, the Electoral Commission fined the Conservative Party £70,000 for failing to accurately report campaign spending.[16] In May 2017, The Crown Prosecution Service concluded their investigations into the allegations and determined that no Conservative Party candidates or officials would face charges. An investigation into the Conservative campaign in South Thanet however was to continue.[17]

He was elected as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Cheltenham in the 2015 general election after he achieved a swing of over 10%.[18] His victory in the constituency was the first for a Conservative Party candidate in 23 years.[19]

From June 2015 to January 2019, Chalk was a member of the Justice Select Committee, which scrutinises the government's decisions relating to the justice system[20] [21]. In addition to his role on the Justice Select Committee, Chalk was Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Pro Bono[22] and Co- Chair of the APPG on Cycling.[23] He was also the secretary of the APPG on Public Legal Education and the APPG for Highways[24][25] and the vice chair of the APPG on Lyme Disease.[26]

In January 2016, the Labour Party unsuccessfully proposed an amendment in Parliament that would have required private landlords to make their homes "fit for human habitation". According to Parliament's register of interests, Chalk was one of 72 Conservative MPs who voted against the amendment who personally derived an income from renting out property. The Conservative Government had responded to the amendment that they believed homes should be fit for human habitation but did not want to pass the new law that would explicitly require it.[27]

Chalk held his seat in the 2017 general election with a reduced majority of 2,569.[28]

In 2018, prompted by his concerns about an apparent rise in child and adolescent mental health in his constituency, Chalk led a Parliamentary inquiry, together with the Children’s Society and Young Minds charities, into the impact of social media and cyber bullying on young people’s mental health[29]. Following the launch of the report, it was referenced in the Government’s Response to the Internet Safety Strategy Green Paper (published May 2018)[30] and the then-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, the Rt Hon Matt Hancock MP, spoke at the launch of the report and praised Chalk's efforts to tackle this phenomenon[31].

In 2018, Chalk was appointed Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) to the Department of Education. He was then appointed PPS to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care later in 2018, and then in May 2019 became PPS to the new Secretary of State for Defence, Rt Hon Penny Mordaunt MP [32].

Parliamentary debates[edit]

Chalk has spoken in more debates than the average member of parliament.[33] He has voted the same way as other Conservative MPs on a vast majority of issues. However, Chalk has sometimes differed from his colleagues, such as voting against investigations into the Iraq War, while most Conservative MPs generally voted for.[34] In December 2015, Chalk voted for UK airstrikes against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in Syria.[35] In April 2016, he voted against a plan for Britain to accept 3,000 unaccompanied Syrian child refugees who had travelled to Europe.[36]. Following the vote, Chalk published his response to constituents explaining the context of the vote and stated that it was "one of the toughest votes in [his] time in Parliament"[37]. In February 2017, he voted for abandoning the Dubs amendment, an amendment to the Immigration Act 2016 to offer unaccompanied refugee children safe passage to Britain amidst the European migrant crisis.[38]. However, Chalk has also spoken up several times in Parliament on the need to support and protect refugees both at home and abroad[39][40][41].

Chalk alongside other MPs, including Richard Graham from the neighbouring Gloucester constituency, tabled a debate in parliament about stalking and sponsored a private member's bill, in order to raise the maximum sentence for stalking from five to ten years.[42][43][44] An amendment to the Policing and Crime Act 2017 raised the maximum sentence for stalking to ten years.[45] In announcing the amendment, Justice Minister Sam Gyimah praised Chalk and Graham's role in highlighting the issue.[46].

Environmental Issues[edit]

In early 2018, he launched a ‘Final Straw’ campaign in Cheltenham, which looked to eradicate single-use plastic straws[47]. Chalk welcomed the Government's announcement in May 2019 of plans to ban plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds by April 2020[48]. In May 2018, he worked with the Marine Conservation Society to host an event in Parliament which featured a bottle deposit return machine[49]. The Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Rt Hon Michael Gove MP, attended and gave his support to the campaign[50].

Chalk has also spoken out in support of measures to protect animals, such as Lucy’s Law. The Law sought to protect puppies by banning third-party puppy farmer sales[51]. Alex also led a debate on protecting the UK’s bee population [52].

Chalk was selected to sit on the Ivory Bill 2017-2019 Committee[53] to scrutinise the Bill, which sought to ban the commercial use of elephant ivory. Chalk had previously called for the Government to be “bolder and more radical”[54] in this area to crack down on the illegal wildlife trade.

On 30 April 2019, Chalk tabled a Ten Minute Rule Bill seeking to enshrine in law that the UK reaches a net zero carbon account by 2050 [55]. Following the presentation of the Bill, Chalk wrote: "Although the UK is currently on course for an 80% reduction (the best performance by any G7 country by the way) the science is clear: if we continue to pump even that remaining 20% of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, climate change will accelerate. So as I said in Parliament, we in the UK need to play our part in stopping the runaway train of climate change."[56]

Legal Aid[edit]

Chalk is ardently in favour of reinstating legal aid for early legal advice, believing it to be both fair and cost-effective. He argued that it made sense to address straightforward legal problems before they escalate and end up costing more in the long term[57].

Cyber Security[edit]

One of Chalk’s longest-running campaigns is the creation of Cheltenham Cyber Park. He successfully secured an additional £1 million in Government funding, to the allocated £22 million, for the cyber park to be built near GCHQ[58]. Chalk said it was ‘to nurture and support a local cyber security ecosystem’ which had the potential to ‘generate incredible, life-changing, opportunities for young people in Cheltenham’[59].

Views on membership of the European Union[edit]

Chalk supported remaining within the European Union prior to the United Kingdom European Union membership referendum in June 2016.[60] He had expressed reservations about Britain's membership, stating in his column in the local newspaper that "my heart says leave".[61] As outlined in the same column, Chalk decided that the perceived economic risk associated with a vote for Brexit was too great, and that "we need to hold our nose and stay".[61] He supported the government by voting to trigger Article 50, which formally began the process of Britain's exit from the European Union.[62] Chalk described his decision as a way of respecting the referendum result.[63]

Personal life[edit]

Chalk is married with two children and lives in the Charlton Park ward in Charlton Kings, Cheltenham.[64]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Alex Chalk MP". Gloucester Conservatives. Retrieved 11 January 2017.
  2. ^ "Alex Chalk". myparliament.info. Retrieved 11 January 2017.
  3. ^ Goodman, Paul. "The complete Cameron's Children: an analysis of all 74 new Conservative MPs". Conservative Home. Retrieved 11 January 2017.
  4. ^ "General Election 2015". Magdalen College, Oxford. 12 May 2015. Retrieved 11 January 2017.
  5. ^ Mosley, Charles (2003). Burke's Peerage, Baronetage & Knightage. 1 (107 ed.). Genealogical Books. p. 402.
  6. ^ "Alex Chalk". 6kbw. Retrieved 11 January 2017.
  7. ^ Chalk, Alex (30 December 2011). "Media Release: UN Declares Detention of Imprisoned Iranian Lawyer Arbitrary; Calls for Immediate Release". Freedom Now.
  8. ^ "Hammersmith and Fulham Council Election Results 1964-2010" (PDF). Plymouth University. Retrieved 2 August 2018.
  9. ^ "Cheltenham". UK Polling Report. Retrieved 13 January 2017.
  10. ^ "About Alex Chalk". Alex Chalk. Retrieved 19 May 2017.
  11. ^ "London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham Response to Inspector's First Written Questions" (PDF). Planning Inspectorate. p. 164. Retrieved 31 May 2017.
  12. ^ Bawden, Tom (3 April 2017). "Prominent fox hunting supporters step up Tory support – and expect repeal of ban in return". The Independent. Retrieved 5 July 2017.
  13. ^ "General Election 2015: Pro-hunt volunteers delivering leaflets for Alex Chalk in Cheltenham". Gloucestershire: Gloucestershire Echo. 6 April 2015. Archived from the original on 14 August 2015. Retrieved 16 November 2018.
  14. ^ Discombe, Matt (2 June 2017). "Cheltenham Conservative candidate Alex Chalk denies accepting support from pro-hunting groups - despite one encouraging members to leaflet for him". Gloucestershire: Gloucestershire Echo. Retrieved 5 July 2017.
  15. ^ a b c Bhatt, Jordan (13 May 2016). "MP Alex Chalk welcomes investigations into electoral fraud". Gloucestershire Live. Gloucestershire Live. Retrieved 22 April 2017.
  16. ^ "Conservative Party fined £70,000 following investigation into election campaign expenses". Electoral Commission. 16 March 2017.
  17. ^ "No charges over 2015 Conservative battle bus cases". BBC News. 10 May 2017.
  18. ^ "Cheltenham parliamentary constituency". BBC News. Retrieved 13 January 2017.
  19. ^ "Conservative Alex Chalk wins Cheltenham in the General Election 2015". 8 May 2015. Retrieved 31 May 2017.
  20. ^ http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/justice-committee/%7Ctitle=Justice Committee|publisher=parliament.uk|accessdate=7 May 2017
  21. ^ https://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/justice-committee/news-parliament-2017/update-25-jan-17-19/
  22. ^ "Register Of All-Party Parliamentary Groups [as at 2 May 2017]". parliament.uk. Retrieved 7 May 2017.
  23. ^ "Committee". All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group. Retrieved 7 May 2017.
  24. ^ "Register Of All-Party Parliamentary Groups [as at 2 May 2017]". parliament.uk. Retrieved 7 May 2017.
  25. ^ "Register Of All-Party Parliamentary Groups [as at 2 May 2017]". parliament.uk. Retrieved 7 May 2017.
  26. ^ "Register Of All-Party Parliamentary Groups [as at 2 May 2017]". parliament.uk. Retrieved 7 May 2017.
  27. ^ "Tories vote down law requiring landlords make their homes fit for human habitation". Independent. 13 January 2016. Retrieved 2 August 2018.
  28. ^ "Cheltenham parliamentary constituency". BBC News. Archived from the original on 9 June 2017. Retrieved 13 January 2017.
  29. ^ https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2018-04-16/debates/276C2D2F-444E-48DC-8AED-AAACB31E0860/Cyber-BullyingYoungPeople%E2%80%99SMentalHealth
  30. ^ https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/708873/Government_Response_to_the_Internet_Safety_Strategy_Green_Paper_-_Final.pdf
  31. ^ https://twitter.com/MattHancock/status/968181335461449729
  32. ^ https://www.alexchalk.com/about-alex-chalk
  33. ^ "Alex Chalk's voting in Parliament". TheyWorkForYou. Retrieved 8 July 2017.
  34. ^ "Alex Chalk, former MP, Cheltenham". TheyWorkForYou. Retrieved 19 May 2017.
  35. ^ Stone, Jon (4 December 2015). "How MPs voted on bombing Isis in Syria – complete list". The Independent. Retrieved 7 July 2017.
  36. ^ Stone, Jon (26 April 2016). "How MPs voted on whether to accept 3,000 unaccompanied Syrian child refugees who travelled to Europe". The Independent. Retrieved 7 July 2017.
  37. ^ https://www.alexchalk.com/news/lord-dubs-amendment
  38. ^ Cockburn, Harry (10 February 2017). "Dubs Amendment for child refugees: Full list of MPs who voted against the scheme". The Independent. Retrieved 8 July 2017.
  39. ^ https://www.theyworkforyou.com/wrans/?id=2018-02-26.129688.h&s=refugees+speaker%3A25340#g129688.q0
  40. ^ https://www.theyworkforyou.com/whall/?id=2018-04-30a.1.0#g13.1
  41. ^ https://www.theyworkforyou.com/debates/?id=2016-03-21a.1244.0#g1263.5
  42. ^ "Stalking (Protection of Victims) – Hansard Online". Hansard. Retrieved 7 May 2017.
  43. ^ "Stalking (Sentencing) Bill 2016–17 — UK Parliament". parliament.uk. Retrieved 7 May 2017.
  44. ^ "MP calls for jail terms for stalking to be doubled". BBC News. 12 October 2016. Retrieved 31 May 2017.
  45. ^ "Stalkers facing longer jail terms for torment caused to victims". BBC News. 6 January 2017. Retrieved 31 May 2017.
  46. ^ Gyimah, Sam (6 January 2016). "Maximum sentence for stalking to double". gov.uk. Retrieved 31 May 2017.
  47. ^ https://www.alexchalk.com/news/plastic-free-pledge-cheltenham
  48. ^ https://www.facebook.com/pg/alexchalkchelt/posts/
  49. ^ https://www.mcsuk.org/news/Deposit-return-in-westminster
  50. ^ https://twitter.com/DefraGovUK/status/996791413642756096
  51. ^ https://www.alexchalk.com/news/week-parliament
  52. ^ https://www.theyworkforyou.com/whall/?id=2017-11-14a.114.2#g115.0
  53. ^ https://services.parliament.uk/Bills/2017-19/ivory/committees/houseofcommonspublicbillcommitteeontheivorybill201719.html
  54. ^ https://www.alexchalk.com/news/use-international-development-budget-support-conservation
  55. ^ https://www.alexchalk.com/news/alex-chalk-launches-bill-mandating-uk-reduce-carbon-emissions-net-zero
  56. ^ https://www.alexchalk.com/news/progress-alexs-net-zero-bill
  57. ^ https://www.lawcareers.net/Information/News/Conservative-MP-joins-calls-to-restore-legal-aid-15062018
  58. ^ https://www.gloucestershirelive.co.uk/news/cheltenham-news/huge-cash-injection-brings-cheltenhams-2150865
  59. ^ https://www.gloucestershirelive.co.uk/news/cheltenham-news/huge-cash-injection-brings-cheltenhams-2150865
  60. ^ Goodenough, Tom (16 February 2016). "Which Tory MPs back Brexit, who doesn't and who is still on the fence?". The Spectator. Retrieved 11 October 2016.
  61. ^ a b "Cheltenham MP Alex Chalk comes down in favour of EU 'yes' vote". Southwest Business. Retrieved 19 May 2017.
  62. ^ Batchelor, Tom (1 February 2017). "Article 50 Brexit vote: Full list of MPs who backed Theresa May starting official EU negotiations - and those who voted against". The Independent. Retrieved 31 May 2017.
  63. ^ Chalk, Alex (29 March 2017). "Article 50 Triggered". Alex Chalk. Retrieved 1 May 2017.
  64. ^ http://www.alexchalk.com. Missing or empty |title= (help)

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Martin Horwood
Member of Parliament
for Cheltenham

2015–present
Incumbent