Bob Neill

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Bob Neill

Official portrait of Sir Robert Neill MP crop 2.jpg
Neill in 2020
Chair of the Justice Select Committee
Assumed office
19 June 2015
Preceded bySir Alan Beith
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for London, Local Government and Planning
In office
14 May 2010 – 4 September 2012
Prime MinisterDavid Cameron
Preceded byIan Austin
Succeeded byBrandon Lewis
Member of Parliament
for Bromley and Chislehurst
Assumed office
29 June 2006
Preceded byEric Forth
Majority10,891 (23.9%)
Leader of the Conservative Party
in the London Assembly
In office
Preceded byEric Ollerenshaw[1]
Succeeded byAngie Bray[2]
Member of the London Assembly
for Bexley and Bromley
In office
4 May 2000 – 3 May 2008
Preceded byNew creation
Succeeded byJames Cleverly
Personal details
Robert James MacGillivray Neill

(1952-06-24) 24 June 1952 (age 68)
Ilford, England
Political partyConservative
Daphne White
(m. 2009; div. 2015)

Ann-Louise Whittaker
(m. after 2018)
Alma materLondon School of Economics

Sir Robert James MacGillivray Neill (born 24 June 1952) is a British barrister and Conservative Party politician. He has served as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Bromley and Chislehurst since a by-election on 29 June 2006, following the death of the previous incumbent Eric Forth. He served as a Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department of Communities and Local Government from 14 May 2010 to 4 September 2012.[3] He is the current Chair of Parliament's Justice Select Committee.


Neill was born in Ilford to John Macgillivray Neill and Elsie May Neill (née Chaston).[4] Neill attended Abbs Cross Technical High School in Hornchurch. He took his law degree at the London School of Economics and in criminal law after graduating.[5] He was later a councillor in the London Borough of Havering, served as Greater London Council member for Romford 1985–86. He previously stood for the Dagenham parliamentary constituency in 1983, at the age of 30, coming within 2,997 votes of winning the historically Labour seat from Bryan Gould MP. He refought the seat in 1987, coming even closer to winning by slightly cutting the Labour majority to 2,469, but Gould defeated him again. He also stood for election in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets in 1994 and 1998.

Neill was first elected to the London Assembly in the 2000 assembly election, and served as the Conservative member for Bexley and Bromley from 2000 until 2008. He served as Leader of the Conservative Group on the Assembly from 2000 to 2002 and again from 2004.

Between January 2013 and March 2015 he also served as a substitute member on the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. A pro-European, he supported former Conservative Chancellor Kenneth Clarke in both of his bids for the leadership of the Conservative Party.

Neill is a Freemason.[6] Since April 2017, Neill has been a Bencher at the Middle Temple.

Neill was married from 2009 until 2015 to former Southend Conservative Councillor and former Mayor, Daphne White.[4][7] In July 2018 he married Ann-Louise Whittaker, a teacher in Chislehurst.

Bromley and Chislehurst by-election[edit]

Following the death of Eric Forth in May 2006, on 3 June 2006 he was adopted as the Conservative candidate for the Bromley and Chislehurst by-election which took place on 29 June 2006. His selection by the local Conservative Association raised eyebrows, as new leader David Cameron had pressed for an "A-List" candidate, to help present Cameron's vision of the new Conservative Party.[8] The Parliamentary constituency forms a part of Neill's London Assembly constituency. He stated at his selection that he would not resign his London Assembly seat as the resultant by-election, which would see around 400,000 voters go to the polls, would be unduly expensive.

A few questions were raised about Neill's position as a non-executive director of the North East London Strategic Health Authority, which fell foul of the House of Commons Disqualification Act of 1975. His response was that, because the body was due to be abolished before he would have had the chance to take his seat in Westminster, any such arguments were immaterial.[9]

Neill won the by-election by just 633 votes, compared to the 13,342 majority achieved by his predecessor at the 2005 general election. Factors contributing to this were assumed by commentators to include a substantial drop in the turnout (down from 64.8 to 40.18%), with the drop disproportionally hitting the Conservative vote; the presence of a high-profile UKIP candidate, Nigel Farage – Labour ended up coming fourth, after UKIP; and a campaign by the Liberal Democrats that heavily focused on Neill personally. In his acceptance speech Neill criticised "a minority of candidates" (which was assumed to be specifically criticising the Liberal Democrat candidate) for their ad hominem attacks on him. These included statements regarding Neill's occupations outside his future parliamentary role (including the nickname "Three Jobs Bob"[8]) and the fact that, at that time, he did not live in the constituency, although he has since purchased a house there.

In parliament[edit]

In 2008 Neill was made Shadow Local Government Minister and Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party and was assigned the shadow planning brief from January 2009. He was elected as MP for a second term in the May 2010 election and worked as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department of Communities and Local Government until September 2012, when he was named Vice Chairman of the Conservative party for Local Government.[5]

Neill's approach to statistics and parliamentary privilege has been questioned by Dr Ben Goldacre.[10] Neill claimed local government could save 20% from all services, based on a management consultant's estimate of how much could be saved from mobile phone bills.[10]

On 10 June 2010 Neill answering questions in the House of Commons as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government said, "Those in greatest need ultimately bear the burden of paying off the debt which this country has been left". The Opposition claimed that the north is taking far bigger cuts than the south and this was not challenged by Neill.[11]

Neill was re-elected for a third term in May 2015, shortly after which he was elected as Chairman of Parliament's Justice Select Committee. Following the General Election on 8 June 2017, he was returned to this role.

Neill was strongly opposed to Brexit prior to the 2016 referendum.[12] On 7 February 2017, along with six other Conservative Members of Parliament, he defied the Party whip and voted in favour of New Clause 110 of the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill. In December 2017, in the same bill, he voted along with fellow Conservative Dominic Grieve and nine other Tory MPs against the government, and in favour of guaranteeing Parliament a "meaningful vote" on any deal Theresa May agrees with Brussels over Brexit.[13][14]

Neill maintains Legal aid should be more widely available. Neill maintained that cuts to legal aid have gone too far and stated, "The evidence is pretty compelling that changes are needed … We cannot expect people who often have multiple problems in their lives necessarily to be able to resolve such things on their own."[15]

Neill was knighted in the 2020 New Year Honours for political service.[16]

Neill came to prominence when he asked from Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis an assurance that the published Internal Market Bill would not breach international law and Lewis admitted that it would do so "in a very specific and limited way."[17]


As of 2008, Neill claims an allowance for a second home outside London, despite his constituency home being only 12 miles from Westminster.[18] A spokesman said that his claims were "in accordance with the rules".[19]


  1. ^ "London Assembly Member Eric Ollerenshaw". Archived from the original on 3 May 2004. Retrieved 7 October 2019.
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 28 December 2010. Retrieved 7 October 2019.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 25 June 2010. Retrieved 2 June 2010.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ a b "Neill, Robert James Macgillivray, (born 24 June 1952), MP (C) Bromley and Chislehurst, since June 2006". Who's Who. 2007. doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.29295.
  5. ^ a b "Bob Neill answers your questions on behalf of the Conservative party". SpareRoom's Housing Election. 27 February 2015. Archived from the original on 12 August 2017. Retrieved 11 August 2017.
  6. ^ London Assembly – Register of Members' Interests Archived 19 July 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ "Senior Tory Selected To Fight Byelection". The Echo. Basildon. 3 June 2006. Archived from the original on 14 June 2018. Retrieved 23 April 2018.
  8. ^ a b "Charge of the Right Brigade". BBC. 23 June 2006. Archived from the original on 21 October 2006. Retrieved 28 March 2015.
  9. ^ Carlin, Brendan (26 June 2006). "Tory candidate accused of breaking by-election law". The Daily Telegraph. London. Archived from the original on 12 July 2006. Retrieved 26 April 2010.
  10. ^ a b Goldacre, Ben. "Bob Neill's Statistics". Archived from the original on 25 March 2013.
  11. ^ "Page cannot be found". UK Parliament. Archived from the original on 11 August 2017. Retrieved 30 August 2017.
  12. ^ Goodenough, Tom (16 February 2016). "Which Tory MPs back Brexit, who doesn't and who is still on the fence?". The Spectator. Archived from the original on 3 February 2017. Retrieved 11 October 2016.
  13. ^ "Theresa May: We're on course to deliver Brexit despite vote". BBC News. 14 December 2017. Archived from the original on 15 June 2018. Retrieved 19 June 2018.
  14. ^ Austin, Henry (13 December 2017). "Brexit vote: The 11 Tory rebel MPs who defeated the Government". The Independent. Archived from the original on 19 June 2018. Retrieved 19 June 2018.
  15. ^ Hill, Amelia; Bowcott, Owen (27 December 2018). "'It's completely wrong': falsely accused Tory MP attacks legal aid cuts". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 27 December 2018. Retrieved 27 December 2018.
  16. ^ "No. 62866". The London Gazette (Supplement). 28 December 2019. p. N2.
  17. ^ TV, Source: Parliament (8 September 2020). "New Brexit bill does break international law, says Northern Ireland secretary – video". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 13 September 2020.
  18. ^ Sawyer, Patrick (12 July 2008). "MPs claim expenses for unnecessary homes". Telegraph. London. Archived from the original on 30 May 2009. Retrieved 26 October 2014.
  19. ^ Ungoed-Thomas, John; Warren Georgia (5 April 2009). "MP Rudi Vis uses expenses to pay for his rural retirement". The Times. London. Retrieved 21 May 2009.

External links[edit]

Political offices
New creation Member of the London Assembly for Bexley and Bromley
Succeeded by
James Cleverly
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Eric Forth
Member of Parliament for Bromley and Chislehurst