Henry Smith (British politician)

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Henry Smith
MP
Official portrait of Henry Smith crop 2.jpg
Member of Parliament
for Crawley
Assumed office
6 May 2010
Preceded by Laura Moffatt
Majority 2,459 (4.9%)
Leader of West Sussex County Council
In office
2003 – 28 May 2010
Preceded by Harold Hall
Succeeded by Louise Goldsmith
West Sussex County Councillor for Maidenbower
In office
1997–2010
Personal details
Born (1969-05-14) 14 May 1969 (age 49)[1]
Epsom, Surrey, England[2]
Nationality British
Political party Conservative
Spouse(s) Jennifer Millar-Smith[3]
Residence Sussex
Alma mater University College London
Occupation Member of Parliament
Committees International Development Committee and Committees on Arms Export Controls (formerly Quadripartite Committee), International Development Sub-Committee on the Work of the Independent Commission for Aid Impact, International Development
Website http://www.henrysmith.info/

Henry Edward Millar Smith (born 14 May 1969) is an English Conservative Party politician and former property developer. He was Leader of West Sussex County Council from 2003 to 2010. He is the Member of Parliament (MP) for Crawley, having been first elected in the 2010 general election.[4]

Education[edit]

Smith was born on the 14 May 1969 in Epsom, Surrey. He was privately educated at Chinthurst School, Tadworth, Surrey – at the time a boys' preparatory school – then at Frensham Heights School, a co-educational independent school in Farnham in Surrey, followed by University College London, where he obtained a B.A. in Philosophy.[5]

Early career[edit]

Smith stood unsuccessfully as the Conservative candidate in the Pound Hill South ward of Crawley Borough Council in 1996. However, he was elected in 2002 as a Conservative Councillor for Pound Hill North Ward. He served until the next election in May 2006, when he did not stand again.[6] Smith stood as the Conservative Party candidate for Furnace Green ward on West Sussex County Council and was elected in 1997, before being re-elected in the same ward in 2001 and then elected in Pound Hill Worth & Maidenbower ward in 2005 and 2009.[7] He became Leader of the Council in 2003 at the age of 34, becoming the youngest county council leader in the country. At the time he also worked for a property investment business based in Crawley in West Sussex.[5]

Smith was the Chairman of the South East Counties Leaders Group (latterly South East Strategic Leaders) from 2007 to 2010, and has previously served as a Governor at The Oaks, The Brook, and Oriel High schools in Crawley. He co-authored the 2005 publication Direct Democracy.

Parliamentary career[edit]

Smith stood unsuccessfully as the Conservative candidate for Crawley at the General Election in 2001 and 2005. He stood against the incumbent MP Laura Moffatt, the second time achieving the highest national swing from Labour to the Conservatives, reducing the majority to 37, the smallest in the country.[8] He was subsequently elected to Parliament at the 2010 general election. Following his election as Crawley MP he resigned as a West Sussex County Councillor on 1 September 2010.[9] He was re-elected at the 2015 general election and 2017 general election.

Smith is a Eurosceptic who supported backbench calls for an early referendum on exiting the EU. He has repeatedly denied rumours linking him to a possible defection to UKIP in 2014, insisting he supported the Conservatives' other policies and felt they were the best option for a referendum on the EU.[10]

Smith said that getting a new hospital in the Pease Pottage area remained his "top issue" and was something he had raised in Parliament after constituents had criticised a lack of progress on the issue.[11]

His parliamentary candidacy at the 2015 general election was personally endorsed by Queen guitarist Brian May on the grounds of his animal welfare record. May had worked with him in opposing the government's badger culling.[12] In parliament, Smith has also spoken against the export of live animals, the import of foie gras, the ivory trade, fur clothing and animals in circuses. He has spoken in favour of CCTV in slaughterhouses, the reduction of the use of animals in scientific experiments and for increased criminal penalties for animal cruelty.[13]

Smith has frequently spoken up for the rights of the expelled Chagos Islanders, many of whom live in his constituency.[14] In January 2018 he introduced the private members' British Indian Ocean Territory (Citizenship) Bill to enable the islanders and their descendants to claim British Overseas Territory citizenship.[15][16]

In the House of Commons he sits on the International Development Committee and Committees on Arms Export Controls (formerly Quadripartite Committee), the International Development Sub-Committee on the Work of the Independent Commission for Aid Impact and the International Development Committee. He has previously sat on the European Scrutiny Committee.[17] Smith is a member of the Animal Welfare (co-chair), Blood Cancer (chair), Heart Disease (acting chair) All-Party Parliamentary Groups as well as sixteen other APPGs.[18]

Controversies[edit]

Smith employs his wife as a Senior Secretary on a salary up to £25,000.[19] He was listed in articles in the Daily Telegraph and Guardian criticising the practice of MPs employing family members, on the lines that it promotes nepotism.[20] [21] Although MPs who were first elected in 2017 have been banned from employing family members, the restriction is not retrospective - meaning that Smith's employment of his wife is lawful.[22]

On 6 September 2013, while the St. Petersburg G20 Summit was ongoing, Smith referred to Russian President Vladimir Putin as a tosser on Twitter, following reports of an unnamed Russian official calling Britain "small and unimportant."[23] Smith subsequently said he stood by his comments, arguing that although it was "difficult to get a serious point across in 140 characters" the serious point was that Putin was an "absurd character who is responsible for some serious breaches of human rights".[24]

In February 2018, the Independent revealed that Smith was a member of a private Facebook group that called for the return of workhouses and the sale of all council homes. The group, called British Ultra Liberal Youth – The Ultras, had 14 members, including fellow Conservative MP Dominic Raab, and advocated a number of contentious policies. It called for the NHS to be privatised and said it would be “right” to introduce workhouses for people in debt. His office responded by saying that he would not have joined the group himself.[25]

Personal life[edit]

Smith lives in Crawley and is married to Jennifer Millar-Smith. They have a daughter and son.[26]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Henry Smith MP". BBC Democracy Live. BBC. Retrieved 25 July 2010.
  2. ^ "Who's Who". www.ukwhoswho.com. Retrieved 12 June 2017.
  3. ^ Commons, House of. "House of Commons - The Register of Members' Financial Interests - Part 2: Part 2". www.publications.parliament.uk. Retrieved 12 June 2017.
  4. ^ BBC Election 2010 "Crawley"
  5. ^ a b MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT IN MAIDENBOWER, CRAWLEY, WEST SUSSEX. Publisher: TheArgus.co.uk Retrieved: 11 April 2014.
  6. ^ "Crawley Council Election Results 1973-2012" (PDF). Plymouth University. Retrieved 11 September 2018.
  7. ^ "West Sussex Council Election Results 1973-2009" (PDF). Plymouth University. Retrieved 11 September 2018.
  8. ^ Henry Smith "About Henry"
  9. ^ henrysmith.info "Henry Smith, Member of Parliament for Crawley"
  10. ^ Hardman, Isabel (4 November 2014). "Who will be the next Tory defector to Ukip". Spectator. Retrieved 7 April 2015.
  11. ^ Chris Ballinger (7 February 2014). "MP Henry Smith defends his efforts to get Crawley a new hospital". Crawley News (archived). Retrieved 12 October 2018.
  12. ^ "Queen legend Brian May urges Crawley residents to vote Conservative at General Election". Crawley News (archived). 27 March 2015. Retrieved 12 October 2018.
  13. ^ "Animal Welfare Speeches - Henry Smith". theyworkforyou.com. Retrieved 12 October 2018.
  14. ^ "Chagos Islander Speeches - Henry Smith". theyworkforyou.com. Retrieved 12 October 2018.
  15. ^ "British Indian Ocean Territory (Citizenship) Bill 2017-19". Parliament UK. Retrieved 12 October 2018.
  16. ^ "British Indian Ocean Territory (Citizenship) Motion". Hansard Parliament UK. Retrieved 12 October 2018.
  17. ^ "Henry Smith". Parliament UK. Retrieved 12 October 2018.
  18. ^ "APPGs" (PDF). Parliament UK. Retrieved 12 October 2018.
  19. ^ "IPSA". GOV.UK. Retrieved 11 September 2018.
  20. ^ "One in five MPs employs a family member: the full list revealed". \Daily Telegraph. 2015-06-29. Retrieved 11 September 2018.
  21. ^ Mason, Rowena (29 June 2015). "Keeping it in the family: new MPs continue to hire relatives as staff". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 September 2018.
  22. ^ "MPs banned from employing spouses after election in expenses crackdown". London Evening Standard. 21 April 2017. Retrieved 11 September 2018.
  23. ^ MP, Henry Smith (6 September 2013). "Putin really is a tosser". Retrieved 12 June 2017.
  24. ^ Williams, Rob (6 September 2013). "Conservative backbencher Henry Smith brands Vladimir Putin a 'tosser' amid 'small island' row". Independent. Retrieved 7 April 2015.
  25. ^ "Tory housing minister was member of private Facebook group that called for workhouses for the poor and end to all council housing". The Independent. 16 February 2018. Retrieved 11 September 2018.
  26. ^ "Personal website". Personal website. Retrieved 11 September 2018.

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Laura Moffatt
Member of Parliament for Crawley
2010–present
Incumbent