James Arbuthnot

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For the college wrestling coach, see James George Arbuthnot.
The Right Honourable
James Arbuthnot
James Arbuthnot.jpg
Chair of the Defence Committee
In office
13 July 2005 – 14 May 2014
Preceded by Bruce George
Succeeded by Rory Stewart
Shadow Secretary of State for Trade
In office
6 November 2003 – 6 May 2005
Leader Michael Howard
Preceded by Tim Yeo (Trade and Industry)
Succeeded by David Willetts (Trade and Industry)
Opposition Chief Whip of the House of Commons
In office
23 June 1997 – 18 September 2001
Leader William Hague
Preceded by Alastair Goodlad
Succeeded by David Maclean
Minister of State for Defence Procurement
In office
6 July 1995 – 2 May 1997
Prime Minister John Major
Preceded by Roger Freeman
Succeeded by John Gilbert
Member of Parliament
for North East Hampshire
Wanstead and Woodford (1987–1997)
In office
11 June 1987 – 30 March 2015
Preceded by Patrick Jenkin
Succeeded by Ranil Jayawardena
Personal details
Born (1952-08-04) 4 August 1952 (age 62)
Deal, England
Political party Conservative
Spouse(s) Emma Broadbent
Children 4
Alma mater Trinity College, Cambridge
Inns of Court
Website Official website

James Norwich Arbuthnot, (born 4 August 1952) is a British Conservative Party politician. He was the Member of Parliament (MP) for Wanstead and Woodford from 1987 to 1997, and then MP for North East Hampshire from 1997 to 2015.

He was Chairman of the Defence Select Committee from 2005 to 2014.[1]

Early life[edit]

Chapel of Eton College

Arbuthnot was born in Deal, Kent, the son of Sir John Arbuthnot, the Conservative Member of Parliament for Dover between 1950 and 1964, and Margaret Jean Duff.[2] He was educated at Wellesley House School in Broadstairs, Eton College, where he was Captain of School, and Trinity College, Cambridge, where he obtained a law degree in 1974.[3]

Arbuthnot was called to the Bar by Lincoln's Inn in 1975 and became a practising barrister. An active member of the Chelsea Conservative Association, he was elected as a councillor of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in 1978 and remained a councillor until his election as a Member of Parliament (MP) in 1987.[4] In 1980 he became the vice-chairman of the Chelsea Conservative Association.

Arbuthnot contested the Cynon Valley seat, in the Labour heartland of industrial South Wales, at the 1983 general election and was defeated by Ioan Evans. A year later in 1984, Evans died and Arbuthnot fought the resulting by-election, but he was again defeated by the Labour candidate, Ann Clwyd.

Member of Parliament[edit]

In Government (1988–1997)[edit]

In the 1987 general election Arbuthnot was chosen to contest the safe Conservative seat of Wanstead and Woodford, as the sitting MP, Patrick Jenkin, was standing down. Arbuthnot held the seat, increasing the Conservative majority by over 2,000 to 16,412.[5]

In 1988 he became the Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) to Archie Hamilton at the Ministry of Defence, and in 1990 became the PPS to the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, Peter Lilley. He entered the John Major government after the 1992 general election when he was made an assistant government whip. He was promoted in 1994 as the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department of Social Security. The following year he was promoted to Minister of State at the Ministry of Defence, where he remained until the end of the Major government in 1997.

Arbuthnot stated that one of his proudest parliamentary achievements was "organising an all-party meeting with the prime minister for the exoneration of the pilots of the Chinook that crashed on the Mull of Kintyre in 1994."[6]

In Opposition (1997–2010)[edit]

Arbuthnot's seat of Wanstead and Woodford was abolished at the 1997 general election, and he found a new seat in North East Hampshire. In opposition, he was a member of William Hague's Shadow Cabinet as the party's Chief Whip until the 2001 general election when he returned to the backbenches. He was made a Member of the Privy Council in 1998.

Arbuthnot returned to the Shadow Cabinet under Michael Howard as Shadow Trade Secretary in 2003, but stood down after the 2005 general election. Since that election he has served as the chairman of the influential Defence Select Committee and was the chair of the special Select Committee set up to scrutinise the Bill that became the Armed Forces Act 2011.[7] He is a Senior Associate Fellow of the Royal United Services Institute.

Arbuthnot is the Parliamentary Chairman of the Conservative Friends of Israel.[8] He is also a member of the Top Level Group of UK Parliamentarians for Multilateral Nuclear Disarmament and Non-proliferation, established in October 2009.[9]

In the 2009 expenses scandal, Arbuthnot apologised and repaid the public money he had claimed for his swimming pool to be cleaned.[10] Later that year, he was further criticised in the press for £15,000 of expenses he claimed for upkeep at his second home, including tree surgery and painting his summer house.[11]

In Government (2010–2015)[edit]

In June 2011 Arbuthnot announced that he would not contest the next general election.[12] On 16 January 2015, he publicly declared his atheism, stating "the pressure on a Conservative politician, particularly of keeping quiet about not being religious, is very similar to the pressure that there has been about keeping quiet about being gay". He clarified that he is not gay. [13]

Personal life[edit]

He is a direct descendant of James V of Scotland.[2] On 6 September 1984, he married Emma Broadbent, now Deputy Senior District Judge (Magistrates' Court) Arbuthnot, daughter of Michael Broadbent, Wine Director of Christie's, and has one son and three daughters.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "MP Profile". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 9 March 2013. 
  2. ^ a b The Peerage.com - Rt. Hon. James Norwich Arbuthnot
  3. ^ "James Arbuthnot MP profile". BBC News. Retrieved 17 July 2008. 
  4. ^ "Rt Hon James Arbuthnot MP profile". Conservative Party. Retrieved 22 February 2009. 
  5. ^ University of Keele - Political Science Resources - UK General Election results June 1987
  6. ^ "Ask Aristotle: James Arbuthnot profile". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 17 July 2008. [dead link]
  7. ^ "Select Committee on the Armed Forces Bill". parliament.uk. Retrieved 20 September 2013. 
  8. ^ Conservative Friends of Israel - About Us
  9. ^ Borger, Julian (8 September 2009). "Nuclear-free world ultimate aim of new cross-party pressure group". The Guardian (London). 
  10. ^ Watt, Holly (11 May 2009). "MPs' expenses: Senior Tory James Arbuthnot charged taxpayer for pool cleaning". 11th May 2009 (London: The Daily Telegraph). Retrieved 18 February 2013. 
  11. ^ Swaine, Jon (11 December 2009). "MPs' expenses: James Arbuthnot claimed £2,750 for tree surgery at £2m home". Dec 2009 (London: The Daily Telegraph). Retrieved 18 February 2013. 
  12. ^ "Tory MP James Arbuthnot to step down for 'new challenge'". BBC News. 6 June 2011. Retrieved 6 June 2011. 
  13. ^ http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-30848534

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Patrick Jenkin
Member of Parliament
for Wanstead and Woodford

Constituency abolished
New constituency Member of Parliament
for North East Hampshire

Succeeded by
Ranil Jayawardena
Party political offices
Preceded by
Alastair Goodlad
Conservative Chief Whip of the House of Commons
Succeeded by
David Maclean
Political offices
Preceded by
Alastair Goodlad
Opposition Chief Whip of the House of Commons
Succeeded by
David Maclean
Preceded by
Tim Yeo
as Shadow Secretary of State for Trade and Industry
Shadow Secretary of State for Trade
Succeeded by
David Willetts
as Shadow Secretary of State for Trade and Industry