Natascha Engel

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Natascha Engel
Natascha Engel 2012.png
Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means
In office
3 June 2015 – 8 June 2017
Speaker John Bercow
Preceded by Dawn Primarolo
Succeeded by Rosie Winterton
Chair of the Backbench Select Committee
In office
15 June 2010 – 3 June 2015
Preceded by Office Created
Succeeded by Ian Mearns
Member of Parliament
for North East Derbyshire
In office
5 May 2005 – 3 May 2017
Preceded by Harry Barnes
Succeeded by Lee Rowley
Personal details
Born (1967-04-09) 9 April 1967 (age 51)
West Berlin, West Germany
Nationality British
Political party Labour
Spouse(s) David Salisbury-Jones (????-2012, Divorced)
Children 3 sons
Residence United Kingdom
Alma mater King's College London,
University of Westminster
Profession Translator; trade union official
Website www.nataschaengelmp.org.uk

Natascha Engel (born 9 April 1967) is a British Labour Party politician who was Member of Parliament (MP) for North East Derbyshire from 2005, until her defeat in the 2017 general election by Conservative Lee Rowley.[1] She has had extensive involvement in the trade union movement and was Second Deputy Chair of Ways and Means (i.e. one of three deputy speakers).

For her work in Parliament she was awarded Parliamentarian of the Year in 2013 by the Political Studies Association.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

The King's School, Canterbury

Natascha Engel was born in Berlin, 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, Canterbury 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.

Early career[edit]

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.[3] In October 2002, through the Smith Institute, she co-wrote the book Age of Regions: Meeting the Productivity Challenge.[4]

She was an assistant to John Healey in February 2003, and collaborated with him on a pamphlet,[5] published by the TUC, and an article,[6] published by the New Statesman, arguing that unions should offer learning opportunities in order to recruit more members.

Parliamentary career[edit]

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, denying that this was due to her connection to Gordon Brown.[7] 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 May 2010 elections, the swing to the Conservative party in her constituency was 8.6% compared to an East Midland average of 6.7%.[8]

In the Commons[edit]

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".[9] 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.[10]

Engel became Secretary of the All-Party Media Literacy Group in 2006.[11] She backed Peter Hain for the Labour Party deputy leadership in the 2007 election,[12] 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.[13] 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.[14]

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'.[15] 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.[16]

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.[17] On 6 July 2011 she was named "Backbencher of the Year" for her work with the committee.[18] 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.[19]

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.[19] She has expressed pride in the committee which is "a powerful check on the executive".[19] Debates are allowed on any topic and, unless they are against party policy, the whips don't interfere.[19] The most contentious debate was on the EU referendum[19] held on 24 October 2011.[20] 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. [21]

Middle East and defence[edit]

Although Engel "occasionally rebels" against the Labour party whip, she voted "very strongly" against an Iraq war inquiry and also voted "very strongly" for replacing Trident.[22]

National[edit]

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.[23] She took a period of maternity leave from December 2007.[24] 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.[25] She became chair of the All-Party Insolvency Group in 2009.[26]

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".[27] 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".[28]

Youth[edit]

Engel in 2008

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.[29] 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.[30] Engel became chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Youth Affairs in 2008.[31][32] 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.[33]

At the ePolitix Charity Champion awards in November 2007, Engel was named "Children and Youth Champion" for her work.[34][35] At the 2007–08 annual general meeting of the British Youth Council, she was chosen as an Honorary President of the council.[36]

Expenses[edit]

In May 2009, during the expenses scandal the Derby Telegraph contacted all the MPs in Derbyshire for their opinion of the issues raised.[37] Engel provided the Derbyshire Times with all her claim forms.[38] 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.[38] 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.[39]

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.[40] 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.[38]

Following the publication, Engel set up meetings to answer questions though these were not well attended.[41]

The Sunday Telegraph's claim that Engel came low on the list of 'value for money' MPs[39] was itself criticised by The Guardian for failing to mention that Engel had two periods of maternity leave[42] whilst Engel herself wrote an article linking the expenses and hours of Parliament to the difficulties of raising a young family.[43] "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."[43]

The Legg Report[44] showed that 343 MPs had been asked to repay money, including several from Derbyshire.[45] 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.[45]

Later elections[edit]

In the 2015 general election, Engel's majority of 1,883 was the 17th-smallest of Labour's 232 seats by percentage.[46] She had expected to lose.[47]

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.[47]

Many in North East Derbyshire were of the opinion that her stance on fracking is the root cause of her defeat having published a letter supporting fracking (going against the national Party policy) on the day the postal votes were arriving. [48] North East Derbyshire has a large anti fracking movement due to proposed developments by the company INEOS. [49]

After the Election it was announced that Engel had taken a job as a consultant to INEOS.[50]

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 has already been replaced as the Labour candidate for the area by Anti Fracking Sheffield Councilor Christine Peace. [50]

Personal life[edit]

In 2012, she divorced her veterinary surgeon husband, with whom she has three sons.[19]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Kyla Mandel; Mat Hope (9 June 2017). "What Does a Hung Parliament Mean for Energy and Climate Change Issues?". 
  2. ^ "Director presents Awards at PSA Ceremony". University of Edinburgh Academy of Government. Retrieved 18 December 2013. 
  3. ^ "Natascha Engel: Biography". Politics. Retrieved 4 July 2017. 
  4. ^ 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. 
  5. ^ Healey, John; Engel, Natascha (2003). Learning to organise (PDF). TUC. ISBN 1-85006-659-0. Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 August 2006. 
  6. ^ Healey, John; Engel, Natascha (10 March 2003). "Everybody out . . . for training!" (PDF). New Statesman. pp. xiv–xv. 
  7. ^ 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. 
  8. ^ "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. 
  9. ^ Hansard, House of Commons, 6th series, vol. 437, cols. 1012-1013
  10. ^ Murphy, Paul (2 February 2006). "How Murdoch plans to win friends and influence people". The Guardian. 
  11. ^ "Media Literacy Group". Ofcom. Archived from the original on 9 October 2009. 
  12. ^ "Peter Hain's backers". The Guardian. 17 May 2007. 
  13. ^ "House of Commons Order of Business". Public Politics. 8 November 2007. 
  14. ^ "Reform of the House of Commons Committee". UK Parliament. Archived from the original on 8 March 2010. Retrieved 19 February 2012. 
  15. ^ "House of Commons Debates 22 February 2010 v 506 c 71". Hansrd. 22 February 2010. Retrieved 19 February 2012. 
  16. ^ Formal Minutes. 12 November 2009. Committee on Reform of the House.
  17. ^ "Election for Chair of Backbench Business Committee—Result" (PDF). House of Commons. 
  18. ^ "Natascha Engel Recognized As "Backbencher Of The Year"". The Chesterfield Post. 7 July 2011. Retrieved 3 August 2011. 
  19. ^ a b c d e f Elliott, Amber (21 April 2012). "Engel: 'The last two years have been hell on earth'". Total Politics. Retrieved 4 July 2017. 
  20. ^ "EU referendum: Rebels lose vote in Commons". BBC News. 25 October 2011. Retrieved 2 June 2012. 
  21. ^ "Natascha Engel Elected Chair of the Backbench Business Committee". House of Commons. 17 May 2012. Retrieved 31 May 2012. 
  22. ^ "Natascha Engel:Labour MP for North East Derbyshire". TheyWorkForYou.com. Retrieved 24 January 2014. 
  23. ^ Hansard, 6 February 2007, vol 456 cols 711-3.
  24. ^ Ivers, Jennifer (25 October 2007). "MP Natascha looks to the future". Derbyshire Times. 
  25. ^ "Speaker nominees". John Bercow. 22 June 2009. Archived from the original on 26 June 2009. 
  26. ^ "Insolvency Group". Beat My Debt. Retrieved 19 February 2012. 
  27. ^ Engel, Natascha; Sodha, Sonia; Johnson, Mike (2007). "Moving on up: Progression in the Labour Market". In Pearce, Nick; Margo, Julia. Politics for a New Generation: The Progressive Moment. Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 191–214. ISBN 0-230-52493-1. 
  28. ^ Emily Garnham, "Backbenchers Push For Outright Smacking Ban, Daily Express, 8 October 2008.
  29. ^ What is 'Question Time'? Archived 6 January 2009 at the Wayback Machine. North-East Derbyshire District Council
  30. ^ Voting Age (Reduction), Hansard, 5 December 2007 : Column 855
  31. ^ "Page cannot be found". UK Parliament. 
  32. ^ Youth Affairs Group[permanent dead link], British Youth Council.
  33. ^ "Dear Ed: Manifesto suggestions Archived 28 August 2008 at the Wayback Machine.", Fabian Review, Autumn 2007.
  34. ^ Charity award winners announced, 28 November 2007.
  35. ^ Derbyshire Times, 13 December 2007
  36. ^ BYC Honorary President Archived 1 May 2009 at the Wayback Machine..
  37. ^ "This has damaged the integrity of Parliament". Derby Telegraph. 20 May 2009. Archived from the original on 7 March 2014. Retrieved 26 July 2016. 
  38. ^ a b c Ivers, Jennifer (21 May 2009). "MP Natascha goes public with expense claims". Derbyshire Times. 
  39. ^ a b Sawer, Patrick (31 May 2009). "Natascha Engel claimed for DVDs of own speech in Parliament". The Sunday Telegraph. 
  40. ^ Prince, Rosa (21 May 2009). "Judge me now, Natascha Engel tells her constituents". The Daily Telegraph. 
  41. ^ "I've not made a profit out of taxpayers: MP". Lancashire Evening Post. 17 June 2009. 
  42. ^ Bunting, Madeleine (5 June 2009). "When women can't win". The Guardian. 
  43. ^ a b Engel, Natascha (29 May 2009). "It's no fun being an MP and a mother". The Independent. 
  44. ^ "Review of past ACA payments" (PDF). House of Commons Members Estimate Committee. 4 February 2010. Retrieved 5 February 2010. 
  45. ^ a b "MPs told they should repay thousands in expenses row". Derby Telegraph. 14 October 2009. Archived from the original on 5 May 2013. 
  46. ^ List of Labour MPs elected in 2015 by % majority UK Political.info. Retrieved 29 January 2017
  47. ^ a b 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. 
  48. ^ "Labour comes out against fracking – but will its candidates in shale gas constituencies back the ban?". 16 May 2017. 
  49. ^ "Eckington against fracking, Ineos, Fracking". Eckington against fracking, Ineos, Fracking. 
  50. ^ a b "Decision by former MP to link up with fracking firm criticised". 

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Harry Barnes
Member of Parliament for North East Derbyshire
20052017
Succeeded by
Lee Rowley