Guto Bebb

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Guto Bebb
Official portrait of Guto Bebb crop 2.jpg
Minister 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
Born (1968-10-09) 9 October 1968 (age 51)
Wrexham, Wales
Political partyIndependent (2019-present)
Conservative (2002-2019)
Plaid Cymru (before 2002)
Spouse(s)Esyllt 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 the 2010 general election until the 2019 general election. He had previously unsuccessfully contested elections to both the Welsh Assembly and the House of Commons.

He served as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Wales Office from 2016 to 2018, and as Minister for Defence Procurement at the Ministry of Defence from January 2018 until his resignation 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 politician.

Early life and career[edit]

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

He is a former Plaid Cymru activist, and was chair of the party in Caernarfon.[3] He defected to the Conservatives after failing to be selected as the party's candidate for the seat on long-serving incumbent Dafydd Wigley's retirement.

Bebb first stood for the Conservatives in 2002, when he contested the safe Labour seat of Ogmore in a 2002 by-election caused by the death of the Labour MP Sir Raymond Powell. He finished in fourth place, many votes behind the successful candidate, Huw Irranca-Davies. He stood again in the 2003 Welsh Assembly election in which he was 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 behind Labour.

Parliamentary career[edit]

At the 2010 general election, boundary changes led to the creation of a new constituency called Aberconwy, based on the former Conwy. Bebb was selected as the Conservative candidate for this new seat, and was returned as the MP for Aberconwy with a majority of 3,398 or 11.3%.

He has been part of a number of delegations of the Conservative Friends of Israel group,[4] including 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] However, in 2019 he voted in favour same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland, signalling a change of opinion.[7]

In March 2016, Bebb became the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales, following Stephen Crabb's move to the Department for Work and Pensions, and Alun Cairns' subsequent promotion to Secretary of State for Wales.[8] As part of Theresa May's January 2018 reshuffle he was promoted to 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 Conservative Party was taking.[10]

Work on Fair Business Banking[edit]

In January 2012, following 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 the 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 ("the FSA") to look at this issue urgently and in detail. After Bebb had raised the issue in Parliament, the FSA announced that they would carry out an investigation into the way these products 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 this debate, Bebb wrote to all MPs who had shown an interest in this subject inviting them to join an All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG). The purpose of this APPG was to seek meaningful redress for those SMEs that had been affected by the mis-selling of interest rate swaps and to pursue this on a cross-party basis. As of March 2015, there were over 100 MPs of various parties on the APPG, chaired by Calum Kerr MP, and the group has been renamed Fair Business Banking.[11]

On 29 June 2012, the FSA reported that it had investigated the sale of IRSA/IRHPs to SMEs and had found evidence that over 90% of these sales had been mis-sales and that substantial damage had resulted to those SMEs mis-sold these products. The FSA announced that it had agreed with the four largest high street banks that a review and redress scheme would be put in place. This agreement was subsequently extended to a further seven banks.[12] As a result of slow progress and poor customer outcomes from the bank-led FSA IRHP Review, Bebb subsequently called and led two further backbench debates on the issue—the last in December 2014 when MPs across the house criticised the poor performance of the now Financial Conduct Authority ("the FCA" which had subsequently replaced the FSA) IRHP Review scheme.[13]

Following 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 the Scheme.[14] This call for an independent review of the FCA's IRHP Scheme was immediately backed by the then Economic Secretary to the Treasury, Andrea Leadsom.[15] The FCA has not responded yet to either the TSC or HM Treasury.[citation needed]


Bebb employs his wife as a part-time office manager.[16] In August 2017, he was accused of nepotism after he 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, on the lines that it is not fair to other potential candidates.[18][19] Although MPs who were first elected in 2017 have been banned from employing family members, the restriction is not retrospective – meaning that Bebb's employment of his wife is lawful.[20]

In August 2013, it was reported that Bebb had claimed the third-highest food and drinks expenses claim in the country, as well as the highest overall expenses claim for an MP in North Wales. However, 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 within the expenses rules and that the first class tickets were cheaper than some standard class tickets available.[22]

Bebb has attracted media attention for some of his more controversial language used when interacting with critical constituents. In 2014, Bebb became involved in a dispute with an Aberconwy constituent after an exchange on Twitter, leading to criticism in the media[23] regarding his negative comments about Asperger's syndrome.[24][25] In 2017, he accused a constituent of "talking out of his ****hole" when he challenged him on his voting record, asking him if he had voted against getting rid of the cap on public sector pay, as well as the deal between the Conservatives and the Democratic Unionist Party.[citation needed]

In April 2015, argumentative emails between Bebb and the chairman of his local Conservative Party Association were leaked and reported by the BBC. Bebb was accused of a lack of loyalty and support in regards to the Welsh Conservatives, not living in the constituency and being egocentric. Bebb responded that the chairman was a 'disgrace' and his work had been 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, thereby resigning his role as Minister for Defence Procurement by convention of the payroll vote.[28] He also supported the People's Vote campaign for a public vote on the final Brexit deal between the UK and the European Union,[29] co-founding the group Right to Vote in early 2019.[30]

Bebb resigned as a minister because he wanted to be 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, p87
  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". 5 February 2013. Archived from the original on 24 July 2019. Retrieved 31 July 2019 – via
  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 (PDF) from the original on 4 April 2019. Retrieved 4 April 2019.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
Robin Millar