Guto Bebb

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Guto Bebb
Official portrait of Guto Bebb crop 2.jpg
Official portrait, 2017
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence Procurement
In office
9 January 2018 – 16 July 2018
Prime MinisterTheresa May
Preceded byHarriett Baldwin
Succeeded byStuart Andrew
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales
In office
19 March 2016 – 9 January 2018
Prime MinisterDavid Cameron
Theresa May
Preceded byAlun Cairns
Succeeded byStuart Andrew
Lord Commissioner of the Treasury
In office
19 March 2016 – 9 January 2018
Prime MinisterDavid Cameron
Theresa May
Preceded byAlun Cairns
Succeeded byPaul Maynard
Member of Parliament
for Aberconwy
In office
6 May 2010 – 6 November 2019
Preceded byConstituency established
Succeeded byRobin Millar
Personal details
Guto ap Owain Bebb

(1968-10-09) 9 October 1968 (age 53)
Wrexham, Wales
Political partyIndependent (2019)
Conservative (2002–2019)
Plaid Cymru (before 2002)
SpouseEsyllt Bebb
Alma materAberystwyth University
WebsiteOfficial website
Parliament biography

Guto ap Owain Bebb[1] (born 9 October 1968) is a Welsh politician and former business consultant who served as Member of Parliament (MP) for Aberconwy from 2010 to 2019, having previously lost elections to the Welsh Assembly and the House of Commons. He served as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Wales Office in 2016–2018 and as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence Procurement at the Ministry of Defence from January 2018 until he resigned in July 2018. First elected as a Conservative, Bebb had the Conservative whip removed on 3 September 2019 and served his remaining months as an independent.

Early life and career[edit]

Bebb was born in Wrexham on 9 October 1968 to a family originating from Bangor and Blaenau Ffestiniog. He studied at Ysgol Syr Hugh Owen in Caernarfon, then graduated in 1990 from the University of Wales, Aberystwyth, with a BA in history. He went on to run an economic development consultancy and work as business development director of Innovas Wales.[2] He was also a partner in his wife's bookshop.

Bebb is a former Plaid Cymru activist and chaired the party in Caernarfon.[3] He defected to the Conservatives after failing to gain the party's candidacy for a seat on long-serving incumbent Dafydd Wigley's retirement.

Bebb first stood for the Conservatives in 2002, contesting the safe Labour seat of Ogmore in a 2002 by-election caused by the death of the Labour MP Sir Raymond Powell. He finished a poor fourth behind the successful Huw Irranca-Davies. He stood again in the 2003 Welsh Assembly election, as a candidate in the now-abolished constituency of Conwy. He came third behind Labour and Plaid Cymru. At the 2005 general election he stood in Conwy, this time coming second to Labour.

Parliamentary career[edit]

At the 2010 general election, boundary changes led to a new constituency called Aberconwy, based on the former Conwy. Bebb was selected as Conservative candidate and returned as MP for Aberconwy with a majority of 3,398 (11.3 per cent of votes cast).

He has joined several delegations of the Conservative Friends of Israel group,[4] including one during the Operation Defensive Shield conflict, when he visited for an Israeli military briefing on the Iron Dome defence system.[5]

In 2013, Bebb voted against same-sex marriage,[6] but changed his view in 2019, voting in favour of it in Northern Ireland.[7]

In March 2016, Bebb became the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales, after Stephen Crabb's move to the Department for Work and Pensions, and Alun Cairns's subsequent promotion to Secretary of State for Wales.[8] During Theresa May's January 2018 reshuffle he gained the more senior position of Minister for Defence Procurement in the Ministry of Defence.

In the House of Commons, he has previously sat on the Public Accounts Committee, the Members' Expenses Committee and the Welsh Affairs Committee.[9]

Bebb stood down at the 2019 general election, citing concerns about the direction the Conservatives were taking.[10]

Fair business banking[edit]

In January 2012, after a complaint by a constituent, Bebb raised the issue of the sale of Interest Rate Swap Agreements (IRSAs) in Parliament. He asked the Leader of the House for a debate on potential mis-selling of these complex interest-rate hedging products (IRHPs) by UK high street banks to over 40,000 small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) throughout the UK. He also asked the Financial Services Authority (FSA) to look into the issue urgently and in detail. Thereafter the FSA announced it would carry out an investigation into the way these had been sold. On 21 June 2012, Bebb called a backbench business debate in the House of Commons to discuss the IRSA/IRHP mis-selling issue.

After the debate, Bebb wrote to all MPs who had shown interest, inviting them to join an All Party Parliamentary Group seeking meaningful redress for SMEs affected and pursue this on a cross-party basis. By March 2015 there were over 100 cross-party MPs on the APPG, chaired by Calum Kerr MP; the group was renamed Fair Business Banking.[11]

On 29 June 2012, the FSA reported evidence that over 90 per cent of the sales had been mis-sales and that substantial damage had resulted to SMEs which had been mis-sold these products. The FSA announced it had agreed with the four largest high street banks on a review and redress scheme. This was later extended to another seven banks.[12] Viewing the slow progress and poor customer outcomes from the bank-led FSA IRHP Review, Bebb then called and led further back-bench debates on the issue — the last in December 2014, when MPs across the house criticised the poor performance of the Financial Conduct Authority (successor to the FSA) IRHP Review scheme.[13]

After hearings with the FCA and complaints from the APPG, victim groups, individual victims and various industry experts, the Treasury Select Committee (TSC) on 10 March 2015 published a report expressing concerns about the performance of the FCA's IRHP Redress Scheme and called for an independently monitored review of it.[14] This call was backed by the then Economic Secretary to the Treasury, Andrea Leadsom.[15] The FCA has yet to respond to either the TSC or HM Treasury.[citation needed]


Bebb employed his wife as a part-time office manager.[16] In August 2017, he was accused of nepotism, having made the appointment just before a parliamentary ban on such practices came into force.[17] Some sections of the media had previously criticised the practice of MPs employing family members, as unfair to other potential candidates.[18][19] Though MPs who were first elected in 2017 have been banned from employing family members, the move was not retrospective: Bebb's employment of his wife remained lawful.[20]

In August 2013, it was reported that Bebb had claimed the third highest food and drinks expenses claim in the country and the highest overall expenses claim for an MP in North Wales. He responded that all his claims were within the revised expenses regulations.[21] In October 2012, he was criticised for claiming expenses for first-class tickets when he travelled by rail, despite official guidance from parliamentary watchdog IPSA – set up in the wake of the 2009 expenses scandal – saying politicians should "consider value for money" when booking tickets. However, he argued that his claims were permissible under the expenses rules and that the first class tickets were cheaper than some standard class tickets available.[22]

Bebb attracted media notice for using controversial language against critical constituents. In 2014, he entered a dispute with an Aberconwy constituent after an exchange on Twitter, leading to media criticism of negative comments he made about Asperger's syndrome.[23][24][25]

In April 2015, argumentative emails between Bebb and his local Conservative Party Association chairman were leaked and reported by the BBC. Bebb was accused of lack of loyalty and support to the Welsh Conservatives, for not living in the constituency and for being egocentric. Bebb replied that the chairman was a "disgrace" and his own work was in line with advice from the national Conservative Party.[26]

European Union[edit]

Bebb was opposed to Brexit before the 2016 EU membership referendum. He retained Aberconwy in the 2017 general election with a small majority of 635 votes.[27]

On 16 July 2018, Bebb voted against the government on the Taxation (Cross Border Trade) Bill, so resigning as Minister for Defence Procurement by convention of the payroll vote.[28] He also backed the People's Vote campaign for a public vote on the final Brexit deal,[29] co-founding the Right to Vote group in early 2019.[30] Bebb's withdrawal as minister left him free to endorse a second referendum on Brexit.[31]

Personal life[edit]

Bebb's native language is Welsh. He is the grandson of Ambrose Bebb, co-founder of Plaid Cymru,[3] the nephew of Welsh rugby international Dewi Bebb and the first cousin of professional golfer Sion Bebb. He is married to Esyllt Bebb. The couple have five children.[citation needed]


  1. ^ "Crown Office". Retrieved 21 July 2016.
  2. ^ "Aberystwyth at Westminster". Aberystwyth University. Archived from the original on 12 June 2011. Retrieved 29 October 2010.
  3. ^ a b Times Guide to the House of Commons 2010, p. 87.
  4. ^ "Delegations". Conservative Friends of Israel. Archived from the original on 10 August 2014. Retrieved 14 June 2018.
  5. ^ Mason, Rowena (30 July 2014). "Tory MPs' visit to Israel condemned as bad timing". Archived from the original on 26 November 2016. Retrieved 21 July 2016.
  6. ^ "MP-by-MP: Gay marriage vote". BBC News. 5 February 2013. Archived from the original on 24 July 2019. Retrieved 31 July 2019.
  7. ^ "Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill: Committee of the whole House New Clause 1 (McGinn) - CommonsVotes". Archived from the original on 10 July 2019. Retrieved 10 July 2019.
  8. ^ "Office of the Secretary of State for Wales – GOV.UK". Archived from the original on 7 November 2016. Retrieved 9 June 2017.
  9. ^ "Guto Bebb". Parliament UK. Archived from the original on 17 October 2018. Retrieved 17 October 2018.
  10. ^ "Welsh MP Guto Bebb to stand down at election over Tory concerns". BBC News. 14 July 2019. Retrieved 30 May 2020.
  11. ^ "House of Commons – Register Of All-Party Groups as at 30 March 2015: Interest Rate Swap Mis-Selling". Archived from the original on 22 August 2016. Retrieved 21 July 2016.
  12. ^ "Interest rate hedging products (IRHP)". 18 February 2016. Archived from the original on 28 May 2016. Retrieved 21 July 2016.
  13. ^ "MPs debated the Financial Conduct Authority's redress scheme". 4 December 2014. Archived from the original on 11 February 2015. Retrieved 4 December 2014.
  14. ^ "House of Commons – Conduct and competition in SME lending – Treasury". Archived from the original on 5 March 2016. Retrieved 21 July 2016.
  15. ^ Leadsom, Andrea (12 March 2015). "Letter" (PDF). HM Treasury. Archived (PDF) from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 14 June 2018.
  16. ^ "IPSA". GOV.UK. Archived from the original on 13 June 2017. Retrieved 17 October 2018.
  17. ^ "Nepotism update". Private Eye. London: Pressdram Ltd. 11 August 2017.
  18. ^ "One in five MPs employs a family member: the full list revealed". The Daily Telegraph. 29 June 2015. Archived from the original on 2 April 2017. Retrieved 17 October 2018.
  19. ^ Mason, Rowena (29 June 2015). "Keeping it in the family: new MPs continue to hire relatives as staff". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 10 August 2018. Retrieved 17 October 2018.
  20. ^ "MPs banned from employing spouses after election in expenses crackdown". London Evening Standard. 21 April 2017. Archived from the original on 25 December 2018. Retrieved 17 October 2018.
  21. ^ "MPs Expenses: Guto Bebb claims more than any other member in North Wales". Daily Post. 17 August 2013. Archived from the original on 17 October 2018. Retrieved 17 October 2018.
  22. ^ "The gravy train: MPs travel first class". The Daily Telegraph. 20 October 2012. Archived from the original on 17 October 2018. Retrieved 17 October 2018.
  23. ^ Culzac, Natasha (5 September 2014). "MP advises man not to 'publicly comment' on issues if he has mental health problems". The Independent. London. Archived from the original on 5 September 2014. Retrieved 5 September 2014.
  24. ^ Williamson, David (5 September 2014). "Aberconwy MP Guto Bebb embroiled in controversy with man who has Asperger's syndrome". Archived from the original on 13 May 2016. Retrieved 21 July 2016.
  25. ^ "TheyWorkForYou". Archived from the original on 20 April 2016. Retrieved 25 April 2016.
  26. ^ "Election 2015: Aberconwy Tory hopeful loses chairman's backing". BBC News. 15 April 2015. Archived from the original on 11 November 2018. Retrieved 17 October 2018.
  27. ^ 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 2 May 2019. Retrieved 11 October 2016.
  28. ^ "Government scrapes through EU customs votes". BBC News. 17 July 2018. Archived from the original on 17 July 2018. Retrieved 17 July 2018.
  29. ^ Wheeler, Brian (11 September 2018). "The Brexit factions reshaping UK politics". BBC News. Archived from the original on 7 September 2018. Retrieved 15 September 2018. Sarah Wollaston, has joined the People's Vote campaign along with Phillip Lee and Guto Bebb
  30. ^ Lee, Phillip (19 March 2019). "Archived copy" (PDF). Letter to Theresa May. Archived from the original (pdf) on 4 April 2019. Retrieved 4 April 2019.{{cite press release}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  31. ^ Senior Tories urge free vote on second referendum Archived 16 December 2018 at the Wayback Machine The Observer. 15 December 2018

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
New constituency Member of Parliament
for Aberconwy

Succeeded by