Lee Rowley

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Lee Rowley
Official portrait of Lee Rowley MP crop 2.jpg
Official portrait, 2019
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Local Government and Building Safety
Assumed office
27 October 2022
Prime MinisterRishi Sunak
Preceded byPaul Scully
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Housing
In office
8 September 2022 – 27 October 2022
Prime MinisterLiz Truss
Preceded byMarcus Jones
Succeeded byLucy Frazer
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business and Industry
In office
17 September 2021 – 6 July 2022
Prime MinisterBoris Johnson
Preceded byNadhim Zahawi
Succeeded byJackie Doyle-Price[a]
Lord Commissioner of the Treasury
In office
17 September 2021 – 6 July 2022
Prime MinisterBoris Johnson
Preceded byDavid Rutley
Succeeded byCraig Whittaker[1]
Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party
In office
5 May 2020 – 16 September 2021
LeaderBoris Johnson
Preceded byRanil Jayawardena
Succeeded byJustin Tomlinson
Member of Parliament
for North East Derbyshire
Assumed office
8 June 2017
Preceded byNatascha Engel
Majority12,876 (26.2%)
Member of Westminster City Council
for Maida Vale
In office
May 2006 – May 2014
Serving with Jan Prendergast
Alastair Moss
Preceded byJan Prendergast
Ronnie Raymond-Cox
Alastair Moss
Succeeded byJan Prendergast
Rita Begum
Thomas Crockett
Personal details
Lee Benjamin Rowley

(1980-09-11) 11 September 1980 (age 42)
Chesterfield, Derbyshire, England
Political partyConservative
Alma materLincoln College, Oxford
University of Manchester

Lee Benjamin Rowley (born 11 September 1980) is a British politician and former management consultant serving as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Local Government and Building Safety since 2022. A member of the Conservative Party, he has been Member of Parliament (MP) for North East Derbyshire since 2017. He previously served as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business and Industry between 2021 and 2022.

Early life and career[edit]

Rowley was born in Scarsdale Hospital in Chesterfield. The son of a milkman, both his grandfathers were miners at pits in the area, including the Westhorpe and Shirebrook collieries – both of which closed under Conservative governments in the 1980s and 1990s. He grew up in Chesterfield and attended St Mary's High School, where he was head boy, graduating in 1999.[2][3][4] Rowley became the first member of his family to attend university in 1999, when he won an exhibition to study Modern History at Lincoln College, Oxford.[5] He then read for a master's degree, also in History, at the University of Manchester.[6]

Before becoming an MP, Rowley worked in financial services and management consultancy. He has held positions at Barclays, KPMG, Santander, and Co-op Insurance, where he was Head of Change at the time of his election to Parliament.[7][8] Rowley had also contributed research on welfare and housing to the centre-right think tank, the Centre for Social Justice.[7]

Westminster councillor[edit]

Aged 25, Rowley was elected as a Conservative councillor in May 2006 for the Maida Vale ward on Westminster City Council in London. He was re-elected in May 2010 and was appointed as Cabinet Member for Parking and Transportation. In this role he was responsible for an innovative trial of allowing motorcycles to use bus lanes in 2012,[9] agreeing an out of court settlement with Mouchel over the awarding of a large parking contract in 2011,[10] and victory in the High Court in 2010 over the principle of charging motorcyclists for parking in Westminster.[11]

As the cabinet member for parking at the council, Rowley was tasked with implementing the council's policy to expand evening and weekend parking restrictions, which the council argued was to improve traffic congestion and pollution, but critics argued was partly for income generation.[12][13][14] The policy was supported by some residents, as well as environmental and disability campaigners,[15] but was criticised by some local residents, business owners and religious groups.[13]

Dubbed a "nightlife tax" by Boris Johnson, the mayor of London, and following the High Court blocking the introduction of the parking charges, the plans were dropped when its architect, council leader Colin Barrow, resigned.[16][17][18][19] Rowley also faced calls to resign from a range of sources, including the chef Michel Roux Jr and Glenys Roberts, a fellow Conservative councillor in Westminster.[20][16]

As the cabinet member for parking, Rowley received media attention after the council was censured by the European Commission for infringing contract laws - and criticised for earlier claiming in a press release it had been "cleared of any wrong-doing". Rowley was alleged to have falsely claimed in a press release that: "We always maintained this contract was properly awarded following a tender process carried out in accordance with the law and we are obviously pleased that the EU has decided to close this case." However, the BBC subsequently obtained documents showing the Commission found against Westminster Council and that it was ordered to make changes. Rowley responded that the earlier statement was not intended to mislead and noted that no punitive action was taken against the council.[21]

Rowley was transferred to a new role as Cabinet Member for Community Services in January 2012. He received positive national media coverage for a merger of library management across the London councils of Westminster, Hammersmith & Fulham and Kensington and Chelsea. The councils and Rowley said it resulted in significant financial savings, ensured all libraries stayed open across the three councils while retaining front-line staff, and gave residents access to one million books.[22][23][24]

He stood down as a councillor and cabinet member in Westminster in May 2014 to focus on seeking election as an MP.[25]

Member of Parliament[edit]

Rowley stood unsuccessfully at the 2010 general election as the Conservative candidate for Bolsover, where he came second to Dennis Skinner. He stood again at the 2015 general election as the Conservative candidate for North East Derbyshire, again coming second, but reducing the sitting Labour MP Natascha Engel's majority to under 2,000 votes. He was subsequently elected as the MP for North East Derbyshire at the 2017 general election with a majority of 2,861.[26] The result was notable as it made Rowley the first Conservative MP for the seat since 1935.[27]

In his first parliamentary term, Rowley campaigned against planning applications in his own constituency for fracking operations.[28] He has also argued against his party's efforts to reduce delays in approving schemes. Rowley argued that the specific Marsh Lane application was wrong in terms of content, location and timing, arguing the rural setting was not right for industrial activity. He stated that he would support concerned residents, oppose it and put his own objections against it to Derbyshire County Council.[29]

Although opposing one specific application for a site in his constituency, he has said on fracking in general: "I am willing to look at fracking long term and to look at new ways of producing energy long term if they can be proven to be safe and efficient and effective for the country."[29][30] The Independent reported that at a fringe event at the Conservative Party Conference in October 2018, Rowley argued his party's support for fracking could see them lose a future general election, due to the unpopularity of the process in local areas.[31]

Along with fellow Conservative MP Luke Graham, Rowley helped set up and is Co-Chair of Freer, an initiative of the right leaning think tank the Institute of Economic Affairs. The group aims to promote a freer society and freer economy, through liberal economic and social policies.[32]

When interviewed in June 2017 by the Financial Times, Rowley said that he had voted for Brexit at the 2016 referendum, but had not actively campaigned for it. The paper suggested that it appeared "he had deleted social media posts relating to the referendum period that might reveal how he had voted".[33] He is not a member but has supported positions taken by the European Research Group – the primary Eurosceptic lobbying group within Parliament – and was one of a number of Conservative MPs to publicly oppose Theresa May's Chequers proposal.[34][35]

In October 2019, Rowley proposed the loyal address following the Queen's Speech.[36] He increased his majority from 2,861 to 12,876 at the 2019 general election.

In March 2020, Rowley and fellow MP Toby Perkins successfully lobbied for government funding for the Staveley bypass, a dual carriageway by-pass of Brimington, Staveley and Mastin Moor that has been planned since 1927.[37]

Rowley has been the lead sponsor for a bid to reopen the alternative railway line between Sheffield and Chesterfield, which runs via Whittington, Staveley, Barrow Hill, Eckington, Renishaw and Killamarsh, on part of the route of the former North Midland Railway. In May 2020, the consortium successfully lobbied for the Government to commission a feasibility study of reopening the currently freight-only line to passenger trains.[38]

In Parliament, Rowley previously served on the Public Accounts Committee.[39] He is Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Fracking, which he set up,[40] and Vice-Chair of an all-party parliamentary group on ovarian cancer.[41]

In May 2020, Rowley was promoted to Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party, replacing Ranil Jayawardena.[42]

On 17 September 2021, Rowley was appointed Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and a lord commissioner of the Treasury (Government whip), during the second cabinet reshuffle of the second Johnson ministry.[43]

On 6 July 2022, Rowley resigned from government, citing Boris Johnson's handling of the Chris Pincher scandal, in a joint statement with fellow Ministers Kemi Badenoch, Neil O'Brien, Alex Burghart and Julia Lopez.[44] He then proposed Kemi Badenoch for Conservative Party leader in the July 2022 Conservative Party leadership election.[45] He was appointed Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Housing by Liz Truss in September 2022.[46] He was later appointed Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Local Government and Building Safety by Rishi Sunak in October of that year.[47]

Personal life[edit]

Rowley is openly gay. Before his election, he worked as a senior manager for an insurance company.[48]


  1. ^ As Minister of State for Industry. Office vacant between 6 July and 7 September 2022.


  1. ^ "Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury - GOV.UK". www.gov.uk. Retrieved 11 July 2022.
  2. ^ Pidd, Helen (29 June 2017). "Derbyshire North-East: 'In our part of the world Corbyn wasn't an asset'". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 July 2017.
  3. ^ "Lee Rowley re-selected as Conservative candidate for North East Derbyshire". North Derbyshire Conservatives. 27 April 2017. Retrieved 9 June 2017.
  4. ^ "About Lee Rowley". Lee Rowley for North East Derbyshire. Retrieved 9 June 2017.
  5. ^ "Colleges, Halls, and Societies". Oxford University Gazette. 23 November 2000. Archived from the original on 27 February 2018. Retrieved 9 June 2017.
  6. ^ "ROWLEY, Lee Benjamin". Who's Who. ukwhoswho.com. Vol. 2018 (February 2018 online ed.). A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc. Retrieved 28 August 2018. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  7. ^ a b "General Election 2017 The Top 25 Candidates to Watch" (PDF). Cicero. Retrieved 14 July 2018.
  8. ^ "St. Mary's Catholic High School (Alumni Profile)" (PDF).
  9. ^ "Motorbikes could be allowed in London bus lanes". Evening Standard. 1 March 2012. Retrieved 3 November 2018.
  10. ^ Appleyard, Nick (25 March 2011). "Exclusive: Westminster settle out of court with Mouchel". LocalGov.co.uk. Retrieved 3 November 2018.
  11. ^ Appleyard, Nick (16 July 2010). "Westminster wins motorcycle parking battle". LocalGov.co.uk. Retrieved 3 November 2018.
  12. ^ "'Parking sends very sensible people mad but not everyone hates the new evening fees'". Evening Standard. 10 November 2011. Retrieved 14 July 2018.
  13. ^ a b Osborne, Alistair (13 January 2012). "Westminster council chief behind parking row quits". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 17 July 2018.
  14. ^ "The council chief behind night parking charges is so meter mad he keeps one in his living room". Evening Standard. 12 April 2012. Retrieved 17 July 2018.
  15. ^ Bloom, Ben (13 January 2012). "Elderly and disabled support contested Westminster yellow line changes". Hampstead Highgate Express. Retrieved 17 July 2018.
  16. ^ a b "West End parking: turmoil as chief's shock exit rocks Westminster". Evening Standard. 16 January 2012. Retrieved 14 July 2018.
  17. ^ O'Ceallaigh, John (19 January 2012). "Westminster Council rescinds controversial West End parking charges". The Telegraph. Retrieved 14 July 2018.
  18. ^ "Restaurant king blasts 'fascist' Westminster over parking". Evening Standard. 13 March 2012. Retrieved 14 July 2018.
  19. ^ Dominiczak, Peter; Howie, Michael; Prynn, Jonathan (3 January 2012). "West End parking banned by stealth". Evening Standard. Retrieved 3 November 2018.
  20. ^ Lydall, Ross; Prynn, Jonathan (17 January 2012). "Poster-boy of 'nightlife tax' faces calls to go". Evening Standard. Retrieved 3 November 2018.
  21. ^ Davey, Ed (25 November 2010). "'No wrong-doing' council broke EU law". BBC News. Retrieved 3 November 2018.
  22. ^ "London library users gain access to two extra boroughs". BBC News. 3 October 2012. Retrieved 18 July 2018.
  23. ^ Rowley, Lee (16 March 2012). "How to cut council spending without closing libraries". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 17 July 2018.
  24. ^ "About Westminster libraries". Westminster City Council. 3 July 2014. Retrieved 18 July 2018.
  25. ^ "LOCAL ELECTIONS: MAIDA VALE Tory pair are set to step aside". West End Extra. 16 May 2014. Archived from the original on 4 November 2018. Retrieved 3 November 2018.
  26. ^ "Lee Rowley MP". UK Parliament. Retrieved 31 July 2017.
  27. ^ "General election results from 1918 to 2019" (XLSX). House of Commons Library. 17 April 2020. Retrieved 3 January 2023.
  28. ^ "MP Rowley says he will oppose fracking changes". Retrieved 17 July 2018.
  29. ^ a b "INTERVIEW: North East Derbyshire MP, Lee Rowley, gives his views on fracking, HS2 and greenbelt". Derbyshire Times. 8 August 2017. Retrieved 14 July 2018.
  30. ^ "MP Rowley says he will oppose fracking changes". Derbyshire Times. 1 June 2018. Retrieved 14 July 2018.
  31. ^ Gabbatiss, Josh (3 October 2018). "Tory MPs express fears that fracking will lose them next election". The Independent. Retrieved 3 November 2018.
  32. ^ "Freer Website". Retrieved 18 July 2018.
  33. ^ "Majority of new Conservative MPs backed UK to remain in EU". Financial Times. 23 June 2017. Retrieved 14 July 2018.
  34. ^ "Letter from European Research Group to PM May". scribd.com. Retrieved 14 July 2018.
  35. ^ "#StandUp4Brexit". Retrieved 15 September 2018.
  36. ^ Scott, Geraldine (14 October 2019). "Tory MP Lee Rowley compared to Extinction Rebellion protesters over fracking comments". The Yorkshire Post. Retrieved 14 October 2019.
  37. ^ Paget, Tim (17 March 2020). "Delight as £93m Chesterfield to Staveley bypass plan given cash boost". Derbyshire Times. Retrieved 23 April 2021.
  38. ^ Allen, George (27 June 2020). "Campaign launched to reopen these Derbyshire railway stations". Derby Telegraph. Retrieved 23 April 2021.
  39. ^ "Parliamentary career for Lee Rowley". UK Parliament. Retrieved 18 May 2022.
  40. ^ Hayhurst, Ruth (17 March 2018). "New Parliamentary group on shale gas leb by Tory MP". Drill or Drop?.
  41. ^ "House of Commons - Register Of All-Party Parliamentary Groups as at 28 September 2017: Ovarian Cancer". publications.parliament.uk. Retrieved 17 July 2018.
  42. ^ "Lee Rowley". Politics.co.uk. Retrieved 23 April 2021.
  43. ^ "Ministerial appointments: September 2021". GOV.UK. 16 September 2021. Retrieved 18 May 2022.
  44. ^ @Lee4NED (6 July 2022). "With great regret and sadness, I resigned as Minister for Industry this morning" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  45. ^ House, Coffee. "Who's backing whom? Sunak still ahead | The Spectator". www.spectator.co.uk. Retrieved 16 July 2022.
  46. ^ "Ministerial Appointments: September 2022". GOV.UK. Retrieved 9 September 2022.
  47. ^ "Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Local Government and Building Safety) - GOV.UK". www.gov.uk. Retrieved 9 November 2022.
  48. ^ Reynolds, Andrew (9 June 2017). "The UK just elected a record number of LGBTQ people to Parliament". PinkNews. Retrieved 9 June 2017.

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by Member of Parliament
for North East Derbyshire

Party political offices
Preceded by Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party
Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by Lord Commissioner of the Treasury
Preceded by Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business and Industry