|Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means|
3 June 2015 – 8 June 2017
|Preceded by||Dawn Primarolo|
|Succeeded by||Rosie Winterton|
|Chair of the Backbench Business Committee|
15 June 2010 – 3 June 2015
|Preceded by||Office Created|
|Succeeded by||Ian Mearns|
|Member of Parliament |
for North East Derbyshire
5 May 2005 – 3 May 2017
|Preceded by||Harry Barnes|
|Succeeded by||Lee Rowley|
|Born||9 April 1967|
West Berlin, West Germany
|Spouse(s)||David Salisbury-Jones (Divorced 2012)|
|Alma mater||King's College London,|
University of Westminster
|Profession||Translator; trade union official|
Natascha Engel (born 9 April 1967) is a British former politician. She served as Labour Party Member of Parliament (MP) for North East Derbyshire from 2005 until her defeat in the 2017 general election.
Engel has had extensive involvement in the trade union movement and was Second Deputy Chair of Ways and Means (one of three positions held by deputy speakers). For her work in Parliament she was awarded Parliamentarian of the Year in 2013 by the Political Studies Association. She was Commissioner for Shale Gas from October 2018 until resigning in April 2019.
- 1 Early life and education
- 2 Early career
- 3 Parliamentary career
- 4 After Parliament
- 5 Personal life
- 6 References
- 7 External links
Early life and education
Natascha Engel was born in West Berlin, West Germany, to a German father and an English mother. After her parents' divorce she moved with her mother to Kent and was educated at Kent College and The King's School, Canterbury.
She later trained as a linguist in German and Portuguese at King's College London and at the University of Westminster where she obtained a Master's degree in Technical and Specialised Translation. In addition to her political career, Engel undertook postgraduate work in translation: she speaks English, German, Spanish and Portuguese.
While living in Madrid, Spain, Engel worked as a volunteer for two years in the local office of Amnesty International while earning a living as a teacher of English. After returning to Britain to work as a Teletext subtitler, Engel joined the Broadcasting, Entertainment, Cinematograph and Theatre Union (BECTU). She was among the first to join the Organising Academy of the Trade Union Congress, serving with the Graphical, Paper and Media Union; she worked on political fund ballots in persuading trade union members to retain their financial backing for the Labour Party.
Engel joined the Labour Party staff as a Trade Union Liaison Officer organising marginal seats campaigning at the 2001 general election. She later became policy co-ordinator for the Trade Union Liaison Office, leaving to work for Smith Institute as programme director. Working there for a year, her responsibilities included researching on skills and the needs of working women and Regional Economic Policy. In October 2002, through the Smith Institute, she co-wrote the book Age of Regions: Meeting the Productivity Challenge.
She was an assistant to John Healey in February 2003, and collaborated with him on a pamphlet, published by the TUC, and an article, published by the New Statesman, arguing that unions should offer learning opportunities in order to recruit more members.
Following the decision to stand down of sitting MP Harry Barnes, she was selected as the Labour candidate for North East Derbyshire at the 2005 general election. "Easily" defeating local candidates, she denied that this was due to her connection to the then-Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown. In the election, Engel retained the seat with a majority of 10,065. She bought a house at Barrow Hill in her constituency in July 2006.
In the Commons
When the MP participation in Select Committees was formalised in the new Parliament, Engel was appointed to the Work and Pensions Select Committee. She made her maiden speech on 20 October 2005, the last of the incoming Labour MPs to do so. In the speech, Engel concentrated on constituency affairs, supporting devolution of power and resources to local communities and highlighting examples in Staveley and Grassmoor which are both within her constituency. She defined socialism as "the simple idea that if someone helps their neighbour, their neighbour will help them". In 2006, Engel was included on a list of up and coming MPs compiled for Sky plc. The MPs, 15 from each of the Conservative and Labour parties were to be invited to "Rising Star" dinners and asked to comment on Sky's broadcasting policy.
Engel became Secretary of the All-Party Media Literacy Group in 2006. She backed Peter Hain for the Labour Party deputy leadership in the 2007 election, and served as Parliamentary Private Secretary to Hain from July 2007 until Hain resigned from the Government in January 2008. Engel left the Work and Pensions Committee in November 2007. She performed the same role for Liam Byrne from October 2008, transferring to work for John Denham from January 2009. She was appointed to the Select Committee on Reform of the House of Commons when it was set up in July 2009.
Engel did not agree with the committee's report, which contained proposals for the creation of a committee to schedule backbench business, the establishment of a committee to set the Commons' agenda and the election of select committee chairs by secret ballot. She felt those three changes would transfer power 'from one elite—in this case, the Executive—and handing it to another—a group of senior Back Benchers'. She also said they would be 'a step in the wrong direction' because they were small changes that would risk standing in the way of more sweeping reforms as MPs would essentially be telling themselves and the public 'we've done [reform], we will move on'. Engel drafted a minority report that proposed restarting the committee's work after the 2010 election, when it would have more time to investigate and deliberate.
On 15 June 2010, the House of Commons voted to create a Backbench Business Committee, and one week later, Engel defeated Sir Alan Haselhurst 202 to 173 in a secret ballot of MPs to become its first chair. On 6 July 2011 she was named "Backbencher of the Year" for her work with the committee. Interviewed in the April 2012 edition of Total Politics, Engel expressed surprise at her status in being pictured alongside that of the Coalition leaders and the Speaker in an exhibition on democracy.
Engel's role is to allocate roughly one day a week parliamentary debating time between competing backbenchers by a process described by Quentin Letts as akin to Dragons' Den. She has expressed pride in the committee which is "a powerful check on the executive". Debates are allowed on any topic and, unless they are against party policy, the whips don't interfere. The most contentious debate was on the EU referendum held on 24 October 2011. Engel is producing an 'end-of-term' report on the performance of the committee and recommendations for improvement—a review is required as part of recommendations of the Wright Committee. Engel was re-elected, unopposed, to the chair of the committee May 2012.
Middle East and defence
In February 2007, Engel introduced a Ten Minute Rule Bill which proposed to require doctors to supply free condoms at their surgeries, noting that the Bill had the support of the Family Planning Association, Terrence Higgins Trust, Royal College of General Practitioners, and the Royal College of Nursing. She took a period of maternity leave from December 2007. Engel was one of the fifteen MPs to formally nominate John Bercow as the new Speaker of the House of Commons in the election in June 2009. She became chair of the All-Party Insolvency Group in 2009.
Engel collaborated on a chapter in the Institute for Public Policy Research book Politics for a New Generation in 2007 which was titled "Moving on up: Progression in the Labour Market". In October 2008 Engel called for Labour MPs to be given a free vote on the issue of banning smacking of children, complaining that she was put in an "impossible position of choosing between party loyalty and a reform that we believe in passionately".
Engel represents the Labour Party on the Board of Trustees of the UK Youth Parliament and has worked to encourage young people to participate in democracy. With her local council she set up a 'Question Time' event for local pupils to question a panel including then-cabinet member Geoff Hoon and the leader of the council. In December 2007, she was a sponsor of a Private member's bill introduced by Julie Morgan which would have reduced the voting age to 16. Engel became chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Youth Affairs in 2008. In a Fabian Society survey of some Labour MPs in Autumn 2007, Engel's suggestion for the next Labour general election manifesto was for sex and relationship education to be compulsory in all schools and taught by a professional.
At the ePolitix Charity Champion awards in November 2007, Engel was named "Children and Youth Champion" for her work. At the 2007–08 annual general meeting of the British Youth Council, she was chosen as an Honorary President of the council.
In May 2009, during the expenses scandal the Derby Telegraph contacted all the MPs in Derbyshire for their opinion of the issues raised. Engel provided the Derbyshire Times with all her claim forms. The paper subsequently invited other members of parliament within its circulation area to do the same but only the neighbouring Amber Valley MP Judy Mallaber accepted. The Sunday Telegraph, published ten days later, showed that after her election in 2005, Engel claimed £158.45 incidental expenses for "political history" items, some of which she told the paper she would repay.
Also in 2005, she advised the Fees office of above limits second home claims, paying the excess though £1,666 worth of kitchen goods were paid in full. She admitted that with hindsight she would not have claimed for some kitchen items which were "the letter... not the spirit, of the law". However, she cited costs of setting up a second home and a constituency office, and said she had paid out the money and had not acted corruptly, so she would not be repaying it.
Following the publication, Engel set up meetings to answer questions though these were not well attended.
The Sunday Telegraph's claim that Engel came low on the list of 'value for money' MPs was itself criticised by The Guardian for failing to mention that Engel had two periods of maternity leave whilst Engel herself wrote an article linking the expenses and hours of Parliament to the difficulties of raising a young family. "The expenses debate... has forced MPs to talk to the people they represent... Only when people realise that we split our time between constituency and Westminster can they begin to understand why we even have a second-home allowance."
The Legg Report showed that 343 MPs had been asked to repay money, including several from Derbyshire. Engel repaid £1,934 of which she said £1,339 was a mortgage claim the Fees office paid twice which she repaid immediately whilst £595 was a refund of a house rental deposit.
In explanation of her eventual defeat in the 2017 general election, Engel pointed to problems in Labour gaining votes in its post-industrial heartlands and the absence of a significant student vote in the constituency, comparing the situation with her native Canterbury where Labour had gained the seat in the election for the first time.
Many in North East Derbyshire were of the opinion that her stance on fracking was the root cause of her defeat, having published a letter in support of fracking (against the national Party policy) immediately after the close of nominations for the Labour candidacy. North East Derbyshire has a large anti-fracking movement due to proposed developments by the chemicals company Ineos, and Engel's nomination had been signed by some anti-fracking activists.
Consultant to fracking firm
After losing her seat in the election it was announced that Engel had taken a job as a consultant to a firm involved in fracking with Ineos. The North East Derbyshire Labour Party have strongly condemned her actions and are considering their options in relation to her status within the party, though she was replaced as the Labour candidate for the area by anti-fracking Sheffield councillor Christine Peace.
On 5 October 2018 the Conservative government announced Engel as the new commissioner for shale gas. According to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy she "will be a direct communication link between local communities, the shale gas industry and the industry regulators." As fracking tsar she said that people opposing fracking were 'hysterical' and had 'knee jerk reactions': "Environment lobbyists and campaigners should be fracking’s number one fans. They should be pushing the government to get fracking while we try and bridge that gap between the renewable energy that we’re using at the moment which is absolutely negligible."
On 28 April 2019, she resigned as fracking tsar giving an interview to The Mail on Sunday saying that the requirement that fracking be shut down in the event of earth tremors measuring 0.5 on the Richter magnitude scale was "making fracking impossible".
According to The Guardian, Engel was quoted in her resignation as saying that "The UK is currently spending £7bn a year on importing gas – money that is not being used to build schools, hospitals or fix the potholes in our roads", despite the fact that the British Government does not itself procure gas, given that the energy industry was privatised several decades before; further to this, any UK oil or gas production is taxed by the government, and such production improves both the balance of trade (by supplanting some gas imports) and national GDP.
- "Natascha Engel: Biography". Politics. Retrieved 4 July 2017.
- Kyla Mandel; Mat Hope (9 June 2017). "What Does a Hung Parliament Mean for Energy and Climate Change Issues?".
- "Director presents Awards at PSA Ceremony". University of Edinburgh Academy of Government. Retrieved 18 December 2013.
- "Ex-Labour MP is first fracking commissioner". BBC News. 5 October 2018. Retrieved 31 December 2018.
- Engel, Natascha (31 October 2011). "Parliament Week and contributing to democracy". Total Politics. Retrieved 28 March 2019.
- Waller, Robert; Criddle, Byron (2007). The Almanac of British Politics. Taylor & Francis. p. 351. ISBN 9780415378246.
- Natascha Engel on LinkedIn
- Engel, Natascha; Balls, Ed; Healey, John; Johnson, Alan; Raynsford, Nick; Samuda, Richard; Riordan, Tom; Costley, Nigel; Gemmell, Samantha; White, Dr Peter (2002). Age of Regions: Meeting the UK Productivity Challenge. Smith Institute. ISBN 1-902488-50-4. Archived from the original on 26 July 2011.
- Healey, John; Engel, Natascha (2003). Learning to organise (PDF). TUC. ISBN 1-85006-659-0. Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 August 2006.
- Healey, John; Engel, Natascha (10 March 2003). "Everybody out . . . for training!" (PDF). New Statesman. pp. xiv–xv.
- Elliott, Francis (8 February 2004). "Blair allies lose ground to the Brown babes". The Independent on Sunday. p. 4. Archived from the original on 1 October 2007.
- "The UK General Election 2010 in depth p19". Electoral Reform Society. May 2010. Archived from the original on 19 February 2012. Retrieved 19 February 2012.
- Hansard, House of Commons, 6th series, vol. 437, cols. 1012–1013
- Murphy, Paul (2 February 2006). "How Murdoch plans to win friends and influence people". The Guardian.
- "Media Literacy Group". Ofcom. Archived from the original on 9 October 2009.
- "Peter Hain's backers". The Guardian. 17 May 2007.
- "House of Commons Order of Business". Public Politics. 8 November 2007.
- "Reform of the House of Commons Committee". UK Parliament. Archived from the original on 8 March 2010. Retrieved 19 February 2012.
- "House of Commons Debates 22 February 2010 v 506 c 71". Hansrd. 22 February 2010. Retrieved 19 February 2012.
- Formal Minutes. 12 November 2009. Committee on Reform of the House.
- "Election for Chair of Backbench Business Committee—Result" (PDF). House of Commons.
- "Natascha Engel Recognized As "Backbencher of the Year"". The Chesterfield Post. 7 July 2011. Retrieved 3 August 2011.
- Elliott, Amber (21 April 2012). "Engel: 'The last two years have been hell on earth'". Total Politics. Retrieved 4 July 2017.
- "EU referendum: Rebels lose vote in Commons". BBC News. 25 October 2011. Retrieved 2 June 2012.
- "Natascha Engel Elected Chair of the Backbench Business Committee". House of Commons. 17 May 2012. Retrieved 31 May 2012.
- "Natascha Engel:Labour MP for North East Derbyshire". TheyWorkForYou.com. Retrieved 24 January 2014.
- Hansard, 6 February 2007, vol 456 cols 711-3.
- Ivers, Jennifer (25 October 2007). "MP Natascha looks to the future". Derbyshire Times.
- "Speaker nominees". John Bercow. 22 June 2009. Archived from the original on 26 June 2009.
- "Insolvency Group". Beat My Debt. Retrieved 19 February 2012.
- Engel, Natascha; Sodha, Sonia; Johnson, Mike (2007). "Moving on up: Progression in the Labour Market". In Pearce, Nick; Margo, Julia (eds.). Politics for a New Generation: The Progressive Moment. Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 191–214. ISBN 978-0-230-52493-4.
- Emily Garnham, "Backbenchers Push For Outright Smacking Ban, Daily Express, 8 October 2008.
- What is 'Question Time'? Archived 6 January 2009 at the Wayback Machine North-East Derbyshire District Council
- Voting Age (Reduction), Hansard, 5 December 2007 : Column 855
- "Page cannot be found". UK Parliament.
- Youth Affairs Group[permanent dead link], British Youth Council.
- "Dear Ed: Manifesto suggestions Archived 28 August 2008 at the Wayback Machine", Fabian Review, Autumn 2007.
- Charity award winners announced, 28 November 2007.
- Derbyshire Times, 13 December 2007
- BYC Honorary President Archived 1 May 2009 at the Wayback Machine.
- "This has damaged the integrity of Parliament". Derby Telegraph. 20 May 2009. Archived from the original on 7 March 2014. Retrieved 26 July 2016.
- Ivers, Jennifer (21 May 2009). "MP Natascha goes public with expense claims". Derbyshire Times.
- Sawer, Patrick (31 May 2009). "Natascha Engel claimed for DVDs of own speech in Parliament". The Sunday Telegraph.
- Prince, Rosa (21 May 2009). "Judge me now, Natascha Engel tells her constituents". The Daily Telegraph.
- "I've not made a profit out of taxpayers: MP". Lancashire Evening Post. 17 June 2009.
- Bunting, Madeleine (5 June 2009). "When women can't win". The Guardian.
- Engel, Natascha (29 May 2009). "It's no fun being an MP and a mother". The Independent.
- "Review of past ACA payments" (PDF). House of Commons Members Estimate Committee. 4 February 2010. Retrieved 5 February 2010.
- "MPs told they should repay thousands in expenses row". Derby Telegraph. 14 October 2009. Archived from the original on 5 May 2013.
- List of Labour MPs elected in 2015 by % majority UK Political.info. Retrieved 29 January 2017
- 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.
- "Contacts". labouragainstbrexit.co.uk. Labour Against Brexit. Retrieved 1 September 2018.
- "Issue 1486". Private Eye. London: Pressdram Ltd. 22 December 2018.
- "Decision by former MP to link up with fracking firm criticised".
- "Natascha Engel appointed as Commissioner for Shale Gas".
- Perry, Claire. "Letter to Clive Betts MP" (PDF). Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee. House of Commons of the United Kingdom. Retrieved 28 April 2019.
- "Fracking tsar: Stop getting 'hysterical' about fracking". talkradio.co.uk. Retrieved 12 October 2019.
- Rose, David (28 April 2019). "I Quit! Britain's fracking tsar dramatically announces her resignation in MoS, accusing Ministers of putting our energy security in peril by caving in to green zealots". The Mail on Sunday. p. 5.
- "Fracking tsar quits after six months and blames eco activists". The Guardian. Guardian Media Group. Press Association. 28 April 2019. Retrieved 28 April 2019.
- "Natascha Engel". Archived from the original on 25 February 2017. Retrieved 10 April 2019.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
- Profile at Parliament of the United Kingdom
- Contributions in Parliament at Hansard
- Voting record at Public Whip
- Record in Parliament at TheyWorkForYou
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
| Member of Parliament for North East Derbyshire