Mike Penning

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Mike Penning
Mike Penning Official.jpg
Minister of State for Disabled People
Assumed office
7 October 2013
Prime Minister David Cameron
Preceded by Esther McVey(as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Disabled People)
Minister of State for Northern Ireland
In office
4 September 2012 – 7 October 2013
Prime Minister David Cameron
Preceded by Hugo Swire
Succeeded by Andrew Robathan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary
of State for Transport
In office
15 May 2010 – 6 September 2012
Prime Minister David Cameron
Preceded by Chris Mole;
Jim Fitzpatrick
Succeeded by Stephen Hammond
Member of Parliament
for Hemel Hempstead
Assumed office
5 May 2005
Preceded by Tony McWalter
Majority 13,406 (27.1%)
Personal details
Born (1957-09-28) 28 September 1957 (age 56)
Hendon, Middlesex, England
Nationality British
Political party Conservative
Spouse(s) Angela née Smith[1]
Children 2 daughters
Occupation Politician; Govt Minister
Profession Military; Fire service
Religion Anglican
Military service
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branch Grenadier Guards
Years of service 1974–1980
Rank Guardsman
Commands Northern Ireland, Kenya and Germany

Michael Alan "Mike" Penning MP (born 28 September 1957) is a British Conservative Party politician and the Member of Parliament for Hemel Hempstead.

He served as Parliamentary Under-Secetary of State for Transport in the Cameron Ministry[2][3] and on 4 September 2012, he became Minister of State for Northern Ireland, a position he held for just over a year. Since 7 October 2013 he has been the Minister of State for Disabled People.[4]

Early life and career[edit]

Penning was born at Hendon, Middlesex and raised in the neighbouring county of Essex. He went to Appleton School, South Benfleet before attending King Edmund School, Rochford, Essex.

He enlisted in the British Army as a Grenadier Guardsman and served in Northern Ireland, Kenya and Germany. During his time in the Grenadiers (1974–80) one of his officers, Captain Robert Nairac, was abducted and assassinated by the IRA.[5]

Penning subsequently worked as a firefighter for Essex County Fire and Rescue Service before joining his family business and prior to embarking upon his career in public service through political journalism.[6]

Political career[edit]

In the mid-1990s, Penning was media adviser to the Euro-rebels who had had the Conservative Whip removed by Prime Minister John Major during the Maastricht rebellion.[7]

Penning was Sir Teddy Taylor's election agent during the 1997 General Election. He stood for election in the safe Labour seat of Thurrock at the 2001 General Election,[6] coming second to Andrew MacKinlay MP (Labour).

Following this he became chief adviser to William Hague (when Leader of HM Opposition) and later became the Conservative Party's Deputy Head of Media under the brief and unpopular party leadership of Iain Duncan Smith.

2005 general election[edit]

At the 2005 General Election Penning stood for Hemel Hempstead, narrowly defeating the Labour Co-operative sitting Member of Parliament Tony McWalter. Penning overturned McWalter's 2001 majority of 3,742 votes and won the seat (after a partial recount) by 499 votes.

In July 2007, Penning was promoted by David Cameron to the post of Shadow Minister for Health.

According to Theyworkforyou.com, Penning spoke in an "above average" number of debates last year and replied to a "very high number" of messages. He also received replies to an "above average" number of written questions.[8]

The quality of those questions was disputed by a 2006 Times article about the Theyworkforyou website which Penning used to email constituents.[9]

His 624 questions in 10 months at an average cost of £138 each, included one on sales of lost property in Royal Parks since records began. The newspaper suggested the objective was to increase ratings on the website,[9] an allegation refuted by Penning and which The Times then dropped.[citation needed]

Penning "occasionally rebelled" with two percent of his votes being against the whip and was "very strongly" in favour of a smoking ban. Penning's parliamentary expenses details have been published as part of a general publication of all MPs' expenses. In 2008/2009, he claimed a total of £135,078 (502nd of all MPs).[8] The Legg Report found no problem with his expenses.[10] Penning, however, repaid £2.99 (for a dog bowl),[11] which is the lowest recorded repayment by any MP.[12]

2010 general election[edit]

Penning's majority increased to 13,406 votes at the 2010 General Election when he achieved 50% of the vote share.[13] This result relegated Labour's Ayfer Orhan to third place behind the Liberal Democrat candidate Richard Grayson.[13] It represented the largest swing from Labour to Conservative (14.4%) in the country.[14][15]

Following that election, David Cameron appointed him a Junior Transport Minister (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State), roads and shipping being among his responsibilities.[2][16] In his capacity as Minister for Shipping, Penning presented Efthimios Mitropoulos (immediate past-IMO Secretary-General) with the insignia of Hon KCMG in Greece on behalf of The Queen.[17]

In his role as road safety minister, he suggested that the Dutch could learn about cyclist safety from the British. However Roelof Wittink of the Dutch Cycling Embassy explained that although the UK had a lower death toll per head of population, the Dutch use cycles far more and have one third of the fatalities per mile cycled.[18] The Guardian also criticised "ministers who don't understand statistics."[19]

In the Government reshuffle of September 2012, Penning vacated his Transport brief and took up a new position as a full Minister of State in the Northern Ireland Office,[20] a position he held for just over a year.

Since 7 October 2013 he has been the Minister of State of Disabled People.[4]

Constituency issues[edit]

Buncefield fire[edit]

The Buncefield fire occurred on 11 December 2005 and led to some 2700 claims for compensation.[21] In the words of neighbouring MP, Rt Hon Peter Lilley, "There is something providential about the fact that the worst fire in western Europe since the Second World War should occur in a constituency represented by a fireman. It was undoubtedly in the interests of all his constituents and mine to have someone so knowledgeable, as well as so vigorous in their response, to represent their interests."[22]

Penning who arrived on the scene within half an hour of the explosion had himself been trained to deal with much smaller petroleum fires, i.e. the scenario was that one tank not twenty was affected.[23]

Dexion pensions scheme[edit]

Dexion workers, 700 of whom worked in the constituency,[24] lost their pensions when the company went into receivership in 2003. Dexion played a prominent part in Dr Ros Altmann's Pensionstheft campaign.[25] Penning, whose support for Dexion preceded his election, offered compensation from unclaimed assets in his 2005 Manifesto[26] and has spoken on the issue 26 times in Parliament.[27]

Dexion pensioners were featured celebrating a victory at the High Court in February 2007 which eventually led to increased compensation from the then-Labour Government.[28]


Penning received the following military medals:


  1. ^ http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm/cmregmem/110124/part2.htm
  2. ^ a b "Her Majesty’s Government" (in English). United Kingdom: Prime Minister's Office. 19 May 2010. Retrieved 29 May 2010. 
  3. ^ "Democracy Live Mike Penning MP". BBC. Retrieved 10 April 2010. 
  4. ^ a b "Michael Moore axed as Scottish secretary in coalition reshuffle.....on other notable government changes:... Mike Penning is promoted to minister of state for Work and Pensions from Northern Ireland brief". BBC. Retrieved 23 October 2013. 
  5. ^ Hansard
  6. ^ a b "Mike Penning Personal website". Retrieved 10 April 2010. 
  7. ^ Wegg-Prosser, Benjamin (13 September 2001). "Guardian 7/9/2001, - What's cooking in the Tory kitchen cabinet". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 15 April 2010. 
  8. ^ a b "Michael Penning". Retrieved 18 March 2010. 
  9. ^ a b Hurst, Greg (27 February 2006). "The MPs who can't stop talking". London: Times Newspapers. Retrieved 17 February 2011. 
  10. ^ "Review of past ACA payments" (PDF). House of Commons Members Estimate Committee. 4 February 2010. Retrieved 5 February 2010. 
  11. ^ "MPs' expenses in detail". BBC. 7 September 2009. Retrieved 18 March 2010. 
  12. ^ "MPs' expenses in detail (repayments)". BBC. 14 May 2009. Retrieved 14 April 2010. 
  13. ^ a b "BBC News Election 2010 Constituency Hemel Hempstead". Retrieved 7 May 2010. 
  14. ^ Amie Mulderrig (11 May 2010). "Re-elected Hemel Hempstead MP Mike Penning achieves largest swing from Labour to Conservative in the country". WatfordObserver. Retrieved 16 May 2010. 
  15. ^ "How Britain voted". Guardian Supplement. 8 May 2010. p. 8. 
  16. ^ www.parliament.uk
  17. ^ www.greeknewsagenda.gr
  18. ^ Roelof Wittink Executive Director, Dutch Cycling Embassy (April 24, 2012). "Sorry minister, it is the Brits who must learn from the Dutch on #cyclesafe". The Times. Retrieved 28 March 2014. 
  19. ^ Peter Walker (25 May 2012). "When it comes to cycling, we're governed by dimwits". the Guardian. Retrieved 28 March 2014. 
  20. ^ MP Penning promoted to head Northern Ireland security, Hemel Today
  21. ^ "Buncefield victims in court move". BBC News. 17 March 2006. Retrieved 17 May 2010. 
  22. ^ "Buncefield Debate Westminster Hall,Speaker=Peter Lilly". TheyWorkForYou.com. 9 January 2008. 
  23. ^ "Buncefield Debate Westminster Hall,Speaker=Mike Penning". TheyWorkForYou.com. 9 January 2008. Retrieved 17 May 2010. 
  24. ^ "HC Deb, 22 July 2008". theyworkforyou. Retrieved 10 April 2010. 
  25. ^ Limbajee, Khevyn (28 October 2005). "London: Pension crisis". BBC. Retrieved 10 April 2010. 
  26. ^ "HC Deb, 18 April 2007, c361". theyworkforyou. Retrieved 10 April 2010. 
  27. ^ "dexion speaker:Michael Penning". theyworkforyou. Retrieved 10 April 2010. 
  28. ^ Cowie, Ian (21 February 2007). "Pensioners win victory in High Court". London: Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 10 April 2010. 

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Tony McWalter
Member of Parliament for Hemel Hempstead