Mark Spencer (British politician)

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Mark Spencer
MP
Comptroller of the Household
Assumed office
15 July 2018
Prime Minister Theresa May
Chancellor Philip Hammond
Preceded by Chris Heaton-Harris
Vice-Chamberlain of the Household
In office
10 January 2018 – 15 July 2018
Prime Minister Theresa May
Preceded by Chris Heaton-Harris
Succeeded by Andrew Stephenson
Member of Parliament
for Sherwood
Assumed office
6 May 2010
Preceded by Paddy Tipping
Majority 5,198 (9.7%)
Personal details
Born (1970-01-20) 20 January 1970 (age 48)
Nationality British
Political party Conservative

Mark Steven Spencer[1] (born 20 January 1970[2]) is a British Conservative Party politician. He was first elected in 2010 as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Sherwood.[3]

Early life[edit]

Spencer was born on the 20 January 1970. He attended Lambley Primary School and the Colonel Frank Seely School in Calverton. He then qualified at Shuttleworth Agricultural College in Bedfordshire, before joining the family farm business. A former dairy farm, the business diversified into growing potatoes and vegetables and producing free-range eggs, beef and lamb; employing around 50 local people. Spencer is was chairman of the National Federation of Young Farmers' Clubs from 1999-2000. Spencer was a trustee of The Royal Agricultural Society of England and for 3 years, was the Honorary Show Director of The Royal Show, and is a Fellow of the Royal Agricultural Society. Spencer is a past vice-Chairman of School Governors of Woodborough Woods Foundation School, where he was chairman of the Disciplinary Committee. As Chairman of the Lambley Playground Fund, he helped raise over a £100,000 to provide new play equipment in the village and he is also trustee of the Core Centre Calverton, an Adult Education Centre[4]. Mark Spencer is the President of Bilsthorpe Heritage Museum[5].

In May 2001, Spencer unsuccessfully stood as a Conservative Party candidate for the Nottinghamshire County Council seat of Hucknall. However, in 2003 he gained the third seat in the safe Conservative ward of Ravenshead on Gedling District Council; he retained this seat at the local elections in 2007. In 2005, Spencer contested a different ward for the Nottinghamshire County Council elections and won the seat of Calverton for the Conservatives; he retained this seat at the local elections in 2009 with an increased majority. In 2006, Spencer was appointed Shadow Spokesman for Community Safety & Partnership for Nottinghamshire County Council.

Parliamentary career[edit]

Spencer gained the Sherwood seat from Labour at the 2010 general election with a majority of 214 after the sitting MP Paddy Tipping stood down.[3] He was re-elected in 2015 and 2017. Following his election as an MP he stood down as a borough councillor and county councillor before the next local elections in 2011 and 2013 respectively.

In Parliament, Spencer has served on the Environmental Audit Committee, the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee and briefly on the Backbench Business Committee. He currently serves on the Selection Committee. [6] He formerly served as Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), Elizabeth Truss and was appointed assistant government whip on 17 July 2016, before becoming full government whip in June 2017.[7]

He worked on environmental issues and energy security through his roles on the Environmental Audit Committee and the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee .[8] With his farming background, Spencer has also focused in Parliament on agriculture and rural communities, with an interest in ensuring that British food production is recognised and promoted as "world class".[8] He joined the Coalfield Communities All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG), whose aim is to restore the economies of former coalfield areas.[9] Spencer was named the Brake Road Safety Parliamentarian of the Year 2011 for campaigning for improved road safety on the A614.[10]

The Daily Telegraph reported in August 2015 that Spencer, in a letter to a constituent, had suggested that Extremism Disruption Orders (EDOs) could be used against Christian teachers who tell schoolchildren that same-sex marriage is wrong. He wrote that whilst Christians with traditionalist views are "perfectly entitled to express their views", "The EDOs, in this case, would apply to a situation where a teacher was specifically teaching that gay marriage is wrong". Simon Calvert, Deputy Director of the Christian Institute, an evangelical pressure group, responded saying,"I am genuinely shocked that we have an MP supporting the idea of teachers being branded extremists for teaching that marriage is between a man and a woman".[11]

Spencer supported the official position of his party and campaigned for the United Kingdom to remain in the European Union before the EU membership referendum on 23 June 2016.[12] Since the result was announced, Spencer has continued to support the party leadership and now advocates leaving the European Union.[13]

Campaigns[edit]

There are a number of local issues on which Spencer chooses to focus as MP for Sherwood.

A key focus is an extension to the Robin Hood Line, which would mean the opening to passenger trains of the old freight lines from Shirebrook to Ollerton through Edwinstowe. Spencer has long argued that this extension would be an economic lifeline to the north of Nottinghamshire, better-connecting the area to surrounding urban centres such as Nottingham and Sheffield. He has met the Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling, to push for support from Government[14], and regularly gives updates on his campaign in his newsletters.

Another key area of focus is road safety, and Spencer regularly meets constituents to discuss local problems on roads such as speeding and road safety outside schools. In June 2011 the road safety charity brake named him Road Safety Parliamentarian of the Month[15].

Controversies[edit]

Spencer attracted criticism in early 2015 after suggesting that a man with learning difficulties who had been left without food or power after being sanctioned for arriving four minutes late at the benefit office should "learn the discipline of timekeeping".[16] The Spectator magazine criticised his response, suggesting his rush to defend government policy without showing concern for the constituent was an example of "political tribalism at its worst".[17] Spencer said critics had "twisted what he said" but stood by his comments that "normal people doing normal jobs would get their wages docked".[16]

In June 2015, Spencer accepted the £7,000 annual pay rise that was awarded to MPs nationally. While neighbouring MPs said they would give the sum to charity, Spencer argued that the rise came from an independent pay review body and he would accept whatever figure they set[18]. It subsequently emerged that only 2 local MPs went on to donate their increases to charity[19]

Two years later it was reported that Spencer claimed expenses for first class tickets when he travelled by rail. Spencer rejected this claim, saying that he only ever claimed the amount for a standard class ticket, before paying the upgrade to first class out of his own pocket.[20]

In January 2016, Spencer was one of 72 MPs who voted down an amendment in Parliament on rental homes being “fit for human habitation” who were themselves landlords who derived an income from a property.[21]

In May 2016, it emerged that Spencer was one of a number of Conservative MPs being investigated by police in the United Kingdom general election, 2015 party spending investigation, for allegedly spending more than the legal limit on constituency election campaign expenses.[22] However, in May 2017, the Crown Prosecution Service said that while there was evidence of inaccurate spending returns, it did not "meet the test" for further action.[23]

Spencer was criticised in 2017 by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards for misusing taxpayers' resources, such as the MP's newsletter, to link to "overtly party political content". Spencer apologised and a member of his staff was sent on a training course on how to appropriately use parliamentary resources.[24][25]

Personal life[edit]

Spencer lives in Mapperley Plains in Nottinghamshire.[26] [27]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "No. 59418". The London Gazette. 13 May 2010. p. 8744. 
  2. ^ "Mark Spencer MP". BBC Democracy Live. BBC. Retrieved 25 July 2010. 
  3. ^ a b "Election 2010 – Sherwood". BBC News. BBC. Retrieved 23 August 2015. 
  4. ^ http://www.calvertoncore.org.uk/about-core.html
  5. ^ https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/667965/2017-12-14_List_of_Ministers_Interests_December_2017_FINAL.pdf
  6. ^ "Mark Spencer". Parliament UK. Retrieved 10 June 2018. 
  7. ^ "Mark Spencer MP". gov.uk. Retrieved 6 April 2017. 
  8. ^ a b "Biography". Mark Spencer MP. Retrieved 7 April 2015. 
  9. ^ "Coalfield Communities All-Party Parliamentary Group". Parliament.uk. Retrieved 6 April 2015. 
  10. ^ "Brake the road safety charity – Brake the road safety charity". brake.org.uk. Archived from the original on 26 May 2013. Retrieved 16 April 2015. 
  11. ^ "MP: use anti-terror powers on Christian teachers who say gay marriage is 'wrong'". Telegraph. 3 August 2015. Retrieved 12 August 2015. 
  12. ^ Goodenough, Tom (16 February 2016). "Which Tory MPs back Brexit, who doesn't and who is still on the fence?". The Spectator. Retrieved 11 October 2016. 
  13. ^ "COLUMN: Brexit starts now, by Mark Spencer MP". The Chad. 30 January 2017. Retrieved 10 June 2018. 
  14. ^ https://www.chad.co.uk/news/mps-urge-government-minister-to-extend-robin-hood-line-1-8742050
  15. ^ http://www.brake.org.uk/news/23-whats-happening/parliamentarian-awards/692-mspencer
  16. ^ a b "Nottinghamshire MP Mark Spencer criticised after saying jobseekers should learn 'discipline of timekeeping'". Nottingham Post. 9 February 2015. Retrieved 7 April 2015. 
  17. ^ Hardman, Isabel (5 February 2015). "Political tribalism at its worst". Spectator. Retrieved 7 April 2015. 
  18. ^ "MP says he will accept £7,000 wage increase". The Chad. 8 June 2015. Retrieved 10 June 2018. 
  19. ^ https://metro.co.uk/2015/10/31/here-are-the-25-mps-who-actually-did-donate-their-7k-pay-rise-to-charity-5473201/
  20. ^ "One Notts MP only ever travels first class on the train". Nottingham Post. 17 September 2017. Retrieved 10 June 2018. 
  21. ^ "Tories vote down law requiring landlords make their homes fit for human habitation". Independent. 13 January 2016. Retrieved 10 June 2018. 
  22. ^ "Election Expenses Exposed". Channel 4 News. 23 June 2016. Retrieved 10 June 2018. 
  23. ^ "No charges over 2015 Conservative battle bus cases". BBC. Retrieved 10 June 2018. 
  24. ^ "Sherwood MP slammed by watchdog for gaining "undue advantage" with tax-payer resources". Hucknall Dispatch. 25 April 2017. Archived from the original on 13 May 2017. 
  25. ^ "Rectification" (PDF). parliament.uk. p. 2. Archived (PDF) from the original on 20 January 2018. Retrieved 20 January 2018. 
  26. ^ "Mark Spencer MP". They work for you. Retrieved 11 June 2018. 
  27. ^ "IPSA record". IPSA. Retrieved 11 June 2018. 

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Paddy Tipping
Member of Parliament
for Sherwood

2010–present
Incumbent