|Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Natural Environment and Fisheries|
6 June 2010 – 7 October 2013
|Prime Minister||David Cameron|
|Succeeded by||George Eustice|
|Member of Parliament
5 May 2005
|Preceded by||David Rendel|
21 October 1960 |
Reading, Berkshire, England
|Spouse(s)||Emma Villiers, (Div)
|Children||First marriage: 3 sons
Current marriage: 2 sons
|Alma mater||Royal Agricultural College|
|Years of service||1981–85|
|Unit||Royal Green Jackets|
Richard Henry Ronald Benyon, MRICS (born 21 October 1960) is a British Conservative Party politician. He has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Newbury since 2005 and was a Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs from May 2010 to October 2013. He is the richest MP of the House of Commons, with an estimated wealth of £110 million.
Benyon was born on 21 October 1960 in Reading. He is the son of Sir William Benyon, a Conservative Member of Parliament from 1970 until 1992, and is the great-great grandson of former Conservative Prime Minister Lord Salisbury. He was educated at nearby Bradfield College and the Royal Agricultural College.
Having attended the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, he was commissioned into the Royal Green Jackets, British Army, as a second lieutenant on 8 August 1981. He was promoted to lieutenant on 8 August 1983. During his four years service, he was posted to Northern Ireland, the UK and the Far East. He transferred to the Regular Army Reserve of Officers on 8 August 1984, thereby ending his military career but maintaining call-up liability.
He was elected in 1991 to Newbury District Council, and became Conservative group leader in 1994, in opposition to the then-ruling Liberal Democrats. He lost his council seat in 1995. He contested Newbury at the 1997 General Election but lost heavily to the 1993 by-election incumbent Liberal Democrat David Rendel. Benyon and Rendel contested Newbury again at the 2001 General Election, and Rendel came out again as the victor with a reduced majority. It proved third time lucky for Benyon, when he and Rendel again contested Newbury at the 2005 UK general election and Benyon was elected with a majority of 3,460, replacing Rendel.
Benyon made his maiden speech on 20 May 2005 and served on the Home Affairs Select Committee from 2005 to 2007, when he became an Opposition Whip. He was the Shadow Minister for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs from 2009 until the 2010 general election when he entered government. He was also one of the first 15 MPs to support David Cameron's Conservative Party leadership bid.
In May 2009, he was listed by The Telegraph as one of the "saints" in the expenses scandal.
He was made Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in the first Cameron Ministry. and remained in post until the junior and middle ranking Cameron reshuffle of October 2013.
In 2012 while Wildlife Minister he refused a request from other MPs that possession of carbofuran, a deadly poison used to kill raptors that is banned in Canada and the European Union, should be made a criminal offence. Green Party MP Caroline Lucas was quoted as saying: "The minister's shocking refusal to outlaw the possession of a poison used only by rogue gamekeepers to illegally kill birds of prey would be inexplicable were it not for his own cosy links to the shooting lobby."
Also in 2012, Benyon's neighbours complained when Hanson Aggregates were given permission to extract 200,000 tonnes of sand and gravel a year from woodlands on Benyon's family estate, leading it to be described as a bombsite. Benyon said that the estate was controlled by a family trust.
In 2013 Benyon succeeded in preventing any cuts in fishing quotas. He claimed that if British fishermen had their quotas cut they would dump even more fish overboard, and the more fish they are allowed to catch, the better it will be for “the health of our seas”. Back in 2004, the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution proposed that 30% of the United Kingdom’s waters should become reserves preventing fishing or any other kind of extraction.
Also in 2013 Benyon's policy relating to access to rivers and his role as an owner of fishing rights was criticised. Writing in The Guardian, George Monbiot wrote that he "repeatedly wields his power in ways that promote his own interests" and being "so enmeshed in potential conflicts of interest that were he to recuse himself from all the issues in which he has a personal stake, he would have nothing to do but order the departmental paperclips".
In 2014, Benyon's family firm was part of a property consortium that purchased New Era estate, one of the last affordable housing estates for working-class Londoners. The consortium increased the rents and announced plans to increase them further to match the rest of the market, effectively displacing its current residents. Following negative publicity and protests by the tenants, Benyon Estate announced that it would sell its stake in the consortium back to the landlord, Westbrook Partners, a New York–based property investment company.
He married his first wife, Emma Helen Villiers in 1988, and they had three children before divorcing in 2003. He presently lives in the family estate of Englefield House, with his second wife Zoe (née Robinson) and their two sons.
Benyon is a director of the family controlled Englefield Charitable Trust. He is one of nine Vice-Presidents of Berkshire County Scout Council. His personal wealth is estimated at £110m, making him the richest MP in the House of Commons.
- "Democracy Live: Your representatives: Richard Benyon". BBC News. Retrieved 21 November 2012.
- "General Election 2005 Research Paper" (PDF). House of Commons Library.
- The London Gazette: . 19 October 1981. Retrieved 17 November 2014.
- The London Gazette: . 22 August 1983. Retrieved 17 November 2014.
- "Richard Benyon". Politics.co.uk. Retrieved 11 November 2014.
- The London Gazette: . 20 August 1984. Retrieved 17 November 2014.
- "MPs' Expenses: the saints". London: The Telegraph. 18 May 2009. Retrieved 1 July 2009.
- "Reshuffle Day sees Cameron promote northerners, Miliband lurches left and Clegg sends a conspiracy theorist to Home Office". Daily Mail (London).
- "Coalition government reshuffle". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 October 2013.
- Michael McCarthy, "Fury at minister Richard Benyon's 'astounding' refusal to ban deadly bird poison", independent.co.uk, 20 October 2012. Accessed 20 October 2012.
- Tom Rowley (9 December 2012). "Environment Minister Richard Benyon's family estate to destroy 218 acres of woodland". Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 9 December 2012.
- Monbiot, George. "Ship-Wrecked". Retrieved 11 February 2013.
- Monbiot, George (4 April 2013). "We have no right to our rivers while Richard Benyon's interests are served". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 7 April 2013.
- Chakrabortty, Aditya (10 November 2014). "The story of the millionaire Tory MP and the tenants facing homelessness". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 November 2014.
- Hill, Amelia; Walker, Peter (14 November 2014). "New Era tenants take rent battle to US after Tory MP’s firm sells stake". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 November 2014.
- Booth, Robert (18 December 2014). "US investors set to sell New Era estate in London after protests". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 December 2014.
- Robert Verkaik (27 February 2011). "Wealthy minister earns £2m subsidies in EU farm subsidies which his department tried to cover up". London: Daily Mail. Retrieved 27 February 2011.
- "Rich politicians: Times lists wealthy MPs and peers". BBC news. 26 April 2013. Retrieved 26 April 2013.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Richard Benyon.|
- Richard Benyon MP Conservative Party profile
- Profile at Parliament of the United Kingdom
- Voting record at Public Whip
- Record in Parliament at TheyWorkForYou
- Profile at Westminster Parliamentary Record
- Profile at BBC News Democracy Live
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
|Member of Parliament for Newbury