|Member of Parliament
12 June 1987 – 12 April 2010
|Preceded by||Humphrey Atkins|
|Succeeded by||Kwasi Kwarteng|
16 September 1943 |
|Alma mater||Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge|
David Wilshire (born 16 September 1943, Bristol) is a former Conservative Party politician in the United Kingdom. He was the Member of Parliament (MP) for Spelthorne in Surrey from 1987 to 2010 and was considered to be to the Right of his party.
On 14 October 2009 Wilshire admitted using parliamentary expenses to pay £105,000 over three years to Moorlands Research Services, a company he set up and owned with his partner Anne Palmer to run his office. While the relevant authorities had approved this, the following day, after a meeting with the Conservative Chief Whip, he announced that he would not be standing as a candidate at the next general election.
Outside of Parliament
He was educated at Kingswood School, Bath and Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge where he received an MA in Geography in 1965. He was a councillor on Wansdyke District Council from 1976 to 1987 and served as leader from 1981 to 1987. He was elected as councillor on Avon County Council from 1977 to 1981. He also worked for Conservative MEPs from 1979 to 1985.
As well as building up his own group of small businesses and working as a personnel officer and a schoolteacher, he was a partner with Western Political Research Services (1979–2000); the co-director of Political Management Programme, Brunel University (1985–90) and became a partner of Moorlands Research Service in 2000.
Section 28 and sexual orientation issues
Shortly after being elected as an MP in 1987, Wilshire saw a copy of the book Jenny Lives with Eric and Martin, about two gay men and their daughter, a copy of which was stocked in an Inner London Education Authority (ILEA) teachers' resource centre. Wilshire said of it: "the book portrays a child living with two men ... [and] clearly shows that as an acceptable family relationship". As a result, with the support of Dame Jill Knight, Wilshire introduced Section 28 as an amendment to the Local Government Bill at the committee stage. The amendment made it illegal for local authorities to "promote homosexuality or ... promote the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality".
Section 28 became a major political issue. In April 1988, a national demonstration of more than 30,000 was held in London. 'Stop the Clause' groups sprang up in most cities, which organised local protests to complement national action. One evening, the BBC's Six O'Clock News headlines were disrupted by shouts of "Stop Clause 28!" and when the clause was debated in the Lords, protesting lesbians abseiled from the public gallery down to the floor of the House. The actor Ian McKellen described Wilshire and Knight as the "ugly sisters" of a political pantomime. In 2003, in a rare public speech about his role on Section 28, Mr Wilshire stated: "Little did I realise what I was unleashing ... I got a fair amount of hate mail and a fair amount of publicity, most of it unflattering." He added that the bill had always been about misuse of taxpayers' money, and not bigotry.
The ban was eventually reversed by Parliament in 2003. Mr Wilshire was one of 76 MPs to vote against the repeal.
In 2000 Wilshire voted to prohibit teachers from introducing steps to prevent bullying on the grounds of homosexuality in a later Local Government Bill. Mr Wilshire voted against homosexual couples being allowed to adopt children in 2002, against the Civil Partnership Bill of 2004, which granted a legal relationship for same-sex couples and against Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) in 2007, which outlawed discrimination in the provision of goods, facilities, services, education and public functions on the grounds of sexual orientation. In each case Wilshire's vote was in the minority.
In 1995 David Wilshire protested to the then prime minister, John Major, about the government's proposals to allow people from Hong Kong to live in the UK. He received criticism by stating: "It's not acceptable to the British people to let in one more … this country is full up."
David Wilshire voted against the introduction of the National Minimum Wage in 1999 by opposing the National Minimum Wage Act 1998. In 2009 he became one of 11 MPs to back the Employment Opportunities Bill, which aimed to abolish the minimum wage, but was defeated in Parliament.
He opposed the idea that MPs should not have second jobs and stated that "state employed parliamentarians" would be something that "Stalin would applaud". He combined being an MP with being the partner of Moorlands Research Service for eight years and from 1987 to 1990 combined being an MP with two other jobs. He was one of 21 Conservative MPs to vote in favour of keeping the additional costs allowance for MPs' second homes, despite David Cameron's calls for it to be reformed.
He went against the official Conservative Party line and supported the construction of a third runway at Heathrow Airport, which, although it lies just outside the Spelthorne constituency, nevertheless provides employment for a considerable number of people locally. Wilshire described those that opposed the expansion as the "anti-brigade", which included the Conservative Party leader David Cameron, whom he accused of peddling a "lie" that transit passengers at Heathrow spent almost nothing.
In 2009, Wilshire was among the majority of MPs exposed in the expenses scandal, and faced considerable hostility from his constituents.
He was originally questioned by his local newspaper, the Staines Informer, about why he had claimed the maximum allowance for a second home in London when his constituency home was in a commuter belt. During the interview he stated: "In 22 years of living in London, I have always furnished the flat out of my own pocket." However, four days later The Daily Telegraph revealed that Wilshire had an unusual arrangement whereby he claimed thousands of pounds of taxpayers' money for monthly payments towards the cost of interior decoration for his London flat, even though he didn't have to provide any receipts for the work. Wilshire was questioned about this by his local newspaper again, in which he said he was "embarrassed, sad and sorry", but he revealed that he had not spent the money allocated to him for decoration on this yet, but would do in the future, and therefore he refused to pay the money back or resign.
It later emerged that Wilshire had spent over £1,000 of taxpayers' money on furniture in 2004, which contradicted his previous claims. When challenged on this, he refused to give an interview but sent an email to the local press in which he stated that: "I obtained the cheapest self-assembly replacement available from MFI". However, even this email caused him more problems, as in it he stated that he had bought the flat in 1983 — four years before he had become an MP and four years before when he previously revealed he had bought it. He later wrote a letter to the paper stating that he did buy the flat in 1987 and that the paper's journalists had been forgetful about facts he had told them, and had confused "furnishing a property with repairing it". The newspaper replied that it stood by what it had reported. When local demands grew for Wilshire to meet his constituents over the claims, Mr Wilshire expressed that he would only meet them one-to-one, and would not hold a public meeting.
As a result, the 'Conservative Anti-Corruption Group' was formed, which aimed to oust Wilshire at the 2010 General Election. One of its members included a former Conservative councillor and canvassing partner of Mr Wilshire. Shortly afterwards, at a Spelthorne Conservative Association Meeting, six members of the Conservative Party announced they were prepared to stand against him at the 2010 General Election.
Following further investigation by The Daily Telegraph, on 14 October 2009, Wilshire asked the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner to investigate his office expenses. Wilshire admitted using parliamentary expenses to pay £105,000 over three years to Moorlands Research Services, a company he set up and owned with his partner Anne Palmer to run his office, but insisted it was approved by the authorities. Parliamentary expenses rules forbid MPs from entering into arrangements which "may give rise to an accusation" of profiting from public funds. Wilshire told the BBC that he had referred himself to the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner as the only way to answer the questions about his expenses, and that the company had never made a profit and had been wound up. Moorlands Research Services was never registered with Companies House, and never filed public accounts. The following day, Wilshire announced that he would stand down as an MP, saying that he was reluctant to do this, but accepted it was the 'sensible' thing to do. On 2 November 2009, when the Parliamentary Standards Commission ended its probe into him without producing any results, Wilshire apologised for equating his treatment over expenses to the Holocaust. He also faced a public and media backlash at the same time for stating that his salary of £64,000 per year was "close to the minimum wage."
In 2000 Wilshire threatened to sue for defamation against a Labour Party member who wrote in the Heathrow Villager that the MP was scaremongering and misleading the public about the only hospital remaining in his seat. Wilshire received criticism as the author of the piece emerged to be a cancer-suffering pensioner who was being treated at the hospital. The Guardian, which had previously been compared to the Third Reich by Wilshire, described him as "Britain's stupidest MP" as a result.
Perhaps less controversially, Wilshire was among opponents to the unprecedented proposal that Princess Diana speak in the House of Commons about landmines in 1997, following an invitation from the newly elected Labour government. She ultimately decided not to speak, following this opposition.
In 2008 he was the subject of a parliamentary enquiry after it was claimed that he raised thousands of pounds for his local party by hosting constituents on visits to the House of Commons. The enquiry cleared him of any wrongdoing.
First Council of Europe Official Visit to Separatist Georgian State's Moscow Outpost
On 20 April 2010, as Co-rapporteur of the Monitoring Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) he held a meeting with member of the government of separatist South Ossetia (Georgia) in the self-proclaimed Embassy of the Republic of South Ossetia in Moscow. The Georgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that:
[We] express strong protest over this deplorable fact. Georgia fully respects the liberty of a parliamentarian, however Mr. Wilshire, the member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe was acting in his capacity of the Assembly's Co-rapporteur, hence representing the whole organization. This is the first instance of an official representative of an international organization holding a meeting in the premises of the "Embassy" of the proxy regime.
In 2003 he pushed successfully to have Council of Europe officials look into the UK to assess whether it is necessary to officially monitor the UK's voting procedures. He said the then government had failed to put its "house in order" to prevent fraudulent voting and accused the government of "systematically ignoring" pleas from the Electoral Commission. "If the British government won't put its own house in order, you mustn't be surprised if there are some of us who will try to find someone else who will make them put their house in order," he told BBC Radio 4's World at One programme. He also opposed the introduction of identity cards and called for the removal of innocent children from the United Kingdom National DNA Database.
He was parliamentary private secretary to Alan Clark in 1991, the PPS to Peter Lloyd from 1992 to 1994, and was a Conservative whip in the House of Commons from 2001 to 2005. He was a member of the Northern Ireland Select Committee (1994–97), a member of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee (1997–2000) and became a member of the Transport Select Committee and of the chairman's Panel in 2005. He was also elected on to the executive of the Conservatives' 1922 Committee in 2005.
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- http://www.publicwhip.org.uk/division.php?date=2000-07-05&number=253&mpn=David_Wilshire&mpc=Spelthorne&house=commons Local Government Bill [Lords] – Prohibition on promotion of homosexuality: bullying — 5 July 2000 [HL]: the 'Section 28' debate
- http://www.publicwhip.org.uk/division.php?date=2002-05-16&number=244&mpn=David_Wilshire&mpc=Spelthorne&house=commons Adoption and Children Bill
- http://www.publicwhip.org.uk/division.php?date=2004-10-12&number=256&mpn=David_Wilshire&mpc=Spelthorne&house=commons Civil Partnership Bill [Lords] – 12 October 2004 at 18:42
- http://www.publicwhip.org.uk/division.php?date=2007-03-19&number=79&mpn=David_Wilshire&mpc=Spelthorne&house=commons Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations
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- You’ve made the Tories pull the Bill!
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- "'David Wilshire 'not fit to be an MP' says ex-pal'". Trinity South. Retrieved 30 June 2009.
- "'Six Tories 'ready to challenge Wilshire'". Trinity South. Retrieved 10 July 2009.
- Winnett, Robert; Swaine, Jon (14 October 2009). "MPs' expenses: Tory David Wilshire pays £100,000 to company he owns with girlfriend". London: Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 14 October 2009.
- "Tory MP to stand down over expenses claims". Sky News. Retrieved 15 October 2009.
- BBC MP sorry for Nazi analogy e-mail 2 November 2009
- "'Shamed MP David Wilshire claims he is paid close to minimum wage'". London: The Sun. 16 October 2009. Retrieved 17 October 2009.
- Norman, Matthew (29 December 2000). "'Diary'". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 29 December 2000. Check date values in:
- "'Government Backs Diana in Landmines Row'". BBC. Retrieved 25 June 1997. Check date values in:
- Woolf, Marie (20 January 2008). "Tory MP faces inquiry over fundraising Commons tours". The Times. London. Retrieved 1 May 2010.
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- Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Georgia Article ID 11965 on the visit of CoE, PACE co–rapporteur to Moscow
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- Bennett, Rosemary (20 May 2005). "'New look for the Tories: white, male and middle-aged'". London: The Times. Retrieved 20 May 2005.
- Guardian Unlimited Politics — Ask Aristotle: David Wilshire MP
- TheyWorkForYou.com — David Wilshire MP
- BBC Politics page
- Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by David Wilshire
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
|Member of Parliament for Spelthorne