Peter Ainsworth

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Peter Ainsworth
Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
In office
6 December 2005 – 19 January 2009
Leader David Cameron
Preceded by Tim Yeo
Succeeded by Nick Herbert
In office
18 September 2001 – 23 July 2002
Leader Iain Duncan Smith
Preceded by Archie Norman (Environment)
Tim Yeo (Food)
Succeeded by David Lidington
Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport
In office
2 June 1998 – 18 September 2001
Leader William Hague
Preceded by Francis Maude
Succeeded by Tim Yeo
Member of Parliament
for East Surrey
In office
10 April 1992 – 12 April 2010
Preceded by Sir Geoffrey Howe
Succeeded by Sam Gyimah
Personal details
Born (1956-11-16) 16 November 1956 (age 59)
Wokingham, England
Nationality British
Political party Conservative
Spouse(s) Claire Burnett
Alma mater Bradfield College
Lincoln College, Oxford

Peter Michael Ainsworth (born 16 November 1956) is a former Conservative politician in the United Kingdom. He was the Member of Parliament for East Surrey from 1992 to 2010.

Following his retirement from politics, Ainsworth is now the chairman of the Big Lottery Fund and the wild flora charity Plantlife.[1]

Early life[edit]

The son of a naval officer, Ainsworth was educated at the Ludgrove School in Wokingham, Bradfield College, and Lincoln College, Oxford, from which he graduated in 1979, with an MA in English Literature and Language.

On leaving university he became a researcher to the former Conservative Member of the European Parliament, Sir John Stewart-Clark, and then in 1981 became a merchant banker. He worked as an investments analyst for Laing & Cruickshank Investment Management (bought by UBS in 2004) from 1981-5, and then in corporate finance for S.G. Warburg Securities (bought by UBS in 1994) from 1985–92, where he became a director from 1990-2.[2]

He married Claire Burnett in Hatfield in 1981, with whom he has had a son (born December 1991) and two daughters (born August 1988 and July 1990).

Parliamentary career[edit]

He was elected as a councillor to the London Borough of Wandsworth in 1986 and at the 1992 general election was elected to Parliament for the seat of East Surrey, succeeding Sir Geoffrey Howe.

In 1994 Ainsworth became the Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) to the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Jonathan Aitken, and in 1995 became PPS to the Secretary of State for National Heritage, Virginia Bottomley. He was promoted by John Major in 1996 to the Whips' Office. When the Major government fell the following year he remained a whip in opposition and was promoted to Deputy Chief Whip by William Hague.

On 5 January 2010, Ainsworth announced that he was to stand down at the forthcoming general election.[3] The Conservative majority in East Surrey in 2005 was 15,921 in 2005.

Shadow cabinet[edit]

In 1998 he entered the Shadow Cabinet, shadowing the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and from 2001 the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Ainsworth resigned from Iain Duncan Smith's frontbench for family reasons in 2002.[4]

From 2003 he chaired the Environmental Audit Select Committee, before rejoining the Shadow Cabinet under David Cameron in December 2005 as Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. The post has had a heightened importance given the Conservative's new emphasis on environmental policies under Cameron.

Speaking in March 2006, Ainsworth set out the possible new direction for Conservative policy stating that "Achieving a sustainable world and combating the threat of climate change will require some really fresh ideas and radical thinking. We cannot expect to meet the challenges of this century by toying with the structures and technologies we have inherited from the past, and the concept of Decentralised Energy should to be taken seriously."[5] Ainsworth was notable as the only member of the shadow cabinet to have voted against the war in Iraq.

Ainsworth lost his position in the Shadow Cabinet in the January 2009 reshuffle when Nick Herbert took the post of Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Life after Parliament[edit]

In June 2011 Ainsworth was appointed chairman of the Big Lottery Fund. He is also chairman of the Elgar Foundation and the wild plant charity Plantlife.


  1. ^ "Former Shadow Environment Secretary Peter Ainsworth is new Chairman of Plantlife". Plantlife website. 21 June 2010. 
  2. ^ Peter Ainsworth - About
  3. ^ "Peter Ainsworth is latest Surrey MP to stand down". Surrey Advertiser. 5 January 2010. 
  4. ^ "Tory frontbencher steps down". BBC News. 12 June 2002. Retrieved 2008-07-02. 
  5. ^ "Conservatives focus on decentralised power to combat climate change". Conservative Party. 2006-03-01. Archived from the original on 2006-08-23. Retrieved 2006-11-02. 

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Sir Geoffrey Howe
Member of Parliament for East Surrey
1992 - 2010
Succeeded by
Sam Gyimah