John Penrose

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For other people named John Penrose, see John Penrose (disambiguation).
John Penrose
John Penrose Official.jpg
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State
at the Cabinet Office
In office
11 May 2015 – 17 July 2016
Prime Minister David Cameron
Preceded by Sam Gyimah
Succeeded by Chris Skidmore
Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
Assumed office
8 February 2014
Prime Minister David Cameron
Preceded by Karen Bradley
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State
for Tourism and Heritage
In office
13 May 2010 – 4 September 2012
Prime Minister David Cameron
Preceded by Margaret Hodge
Succeeded by Office Dissolved
Member of Parliament
for Weston-super-Mare
Assumed office
5 May 2005
Preceded by Brian Cotter
Majority 15,609 (29.7%)
Personal details
Born (1964-06-22) 22 June 1964 (age 52)
Sudbury, Suffolk, England
Nationality British
Political party Conservative
Spouse(s) Dido Harding, Baroness Harding
Alma mater Downing College, Cambridge; Columbia University
Religion Anglican

John David Penrose (born 22 June 1964) is the Conservative Member of Parliament (MP) for Weston-super-Mare. He served as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport from 2010 to 2012, with focus upon heritage and tourism.[1]

Early life[edit]

Born in Sudbury, Suffolk, he went to Ipswich School. He studied at Downing College, Cambridge, receiving a BA in Law in 1986. He received an MBA from Columbia University in 1991.

Professional career[edit]

He was a Bank Trading Floor Risk Manager at JP Morgan from 1986–90, then a management consultant at McKinsey & Company from 1992-4. He was Commercial Director of the Academic Books Division at Thomson Publishing in Andover from 1995-6, then Managing Director of Schools Book Publishing at Longman (Pearson PLC), publishing school textbooks for the UK and parts of Africa. He was chairman of Logotron Ltd in Cambridge. (also owned by Pearson). In 1998, he was in charge of research at the Bow Group.

Parliamentary career[edit]

He was elected in the 2005 general election, winning the seat from the Liberal Democrat Brian Cotter and retained his seat in the 2010 general election. He had previously contested Weston-super-Mare unsuccessfully in 2001, and Ealing Southall in 1997.

He served on the Work and Pensions Committee from July 2005 to January 2009, and in 2006 was appointed joint chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Further Education and Lifelong Learning. In 2006 he was also appointed Parliamentary Private Secretary to Oliver Letwin MP and in 2009 was promoted to Shadow Minister for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform.

Upon re-election and adoption of the coalition Government, Penrose served as Tourism & Heritage Minister from 2010 to 2012, covering the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the London Olympic and Paralympic Games. During his tenure the Tourism industry was one of the fastest-growing sectors of Britain’s economy, and he also wrote and implemented the Government’s Tourism Strategy; began a process to turn English Heritage’s properties, such as Stonehenge, Dover Castle, Tintagel and many others, into a second National Trust; removed licences on live entertainment; sold the Tote bookmaker; protected the Lloyd's of London building with a ‘Grade 1’ listing amongst other activity.

Penrose returned to the backbenches in 2012. Apart from his constituency campaigns (described above) he wrote a radical but well-received paper (We Deserve Better) on how to give people a better deal on their utilities (gas, water, electricity etc.). He also believes we must protect beautiful urban townscapes by creating ‘listed views’, and protect green fields from urban sprawl by building up, not out.

Less than a year later the Prime Minister invited Penrose back to Number 10 to offer him a new position as Lord Commissioner of Her Majesty's Treasury, and effectively assistant government whip.

Outside Parliament[edit]

Penrose is a Patron of the South West branch of domestic violence charity the Mankind Initiative.[2] He is also President of Weston-super-Mare's YMCA, President of The Abbeyfield Weston-super-Mare Society, President of the League of Friends of the Weston-super-Mare Hospital, a governor of Weston College, a trustee of North Somerset Citizens Advice Bureau, and President of Weston-super-Mare and District Constitutional Club.[3]

Personal life[edit]

Penrose met the Hon. Dido (Diana) Harding, only daughter of Lord Harding, while both worked at McKinsey. The couple married in October 1995, and have two daughters. John splits his time between his home in the Weston-super-Mare constituency and a flat in London on the evenings when Parliament is sitting late.[4] Harding is the current Chief Executive of TalkTalk Group,[5] and owns the 1998 Cheltenham Gold Cup winning horse, Cool Dawn.[6][7]

In 2016 Penrose, who lives in Winscombe, attracted controversy when he angered fellow villagers by building a “hideous personal swimming pool complex", next to the 15th-century village church.[8]


  1. ^ "About - Department for Culture, Media & Sport - GOV.UK". Retrieved 23 April 2016. 
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 17 August 2010. Retrieved 12 July 2010. 
  3. ^ "John Penrose MP - Your local man in Westminster". Retrieved 23 April 2016. 
  4. ^ "John Penrose". The Conservative Party. Retrieved 30 March 2011. 
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 26 February 2011. Retrieved 30 March 2011. 
  6. ^ Dido Harding (8 Mar 1999). Cool Dawn: My National Velvet. Mainstream Publishing. ISBN 1-84018-179-6. 
  7. ^ "List of Public Companies Worldwide, Letter - Businessweek - Businessweek". Retrieved 23 April 2016. 
  8. ^ "Minister who called for protection of heritage views, builds 'hideous' pool next to listed church". 22 April 2016. Retrieved 23 April 2016. 

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Brian Cotter
Member of Parliament for Weston-super-Mare