Dame Caroline Alice Spelman née Cormack; born 4 May 1958) is a British Conservative Party politician who served as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Meriden in the West Midlands from 1997 to 2019. From May 2010 to September 2012 she was the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in David Cameron's coalition cabinet, and was sworn as a Privy Counsellor on 13 May 2010.(
Dame Caroline Spelman
|Second Church Estates Commissioner|
21 May 2015 – 10 January 2020
|Prime Minister||David Cameron|
|Preceded by||Tony Baldry|
|Succeeded by||Andrew Selous|
|Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs|
12 May 2010 – 4 September 2012
|Prime Minister||David Cameron|
|Preceded by||Hilary Benn|
|Succeeded by||Owen Paterson|
|Chairwoman of the Conservative Party|
2 July 2007 – 19 January 2009
|Preceded by||Francis Maude|
|Succeeded by||Eric Pickles|
|Member of Parliament|
1 May 1997 – 6 November 2019
|Preceded by||Iain Mills|
|Succeeded by||Saqib Bhatti|
Caroline Alice Cormack
4 May 1958
Bishop's Stortford, Hertfordshire, England
|Alma mater||Queen Mary College, University of London|
Born in Bishop's Stortford, Hertfordshire, Spelman attended the Hertfordshire and Essex High School for Girls (now called The Hertfordshire and Essex High School), in Bishop's Stortford, and received a BA First Class in European Studies from Queen Mary College, University of London.
She was Sugar Beet commodity secretary for the National Farmers' Union from 1981 to 1984. She was deputy director of the International Confederation of European Beet Growers (officially known as La Confédération Internationale des Betteraviers Européens – CIBE) in Paris from 1984–9, then a research fellow for the Centre for European Agricultural Studies (part of the University of Kent and since 2000 known as the Centre for European Agri-Environmental Economics) from 1989 to 1993. She co-owns Spelman, Cormack & Associates, a lobbying firm for the food and biotechnology industry, with her husband.
In 2001, Iain Duncan Smith appointed Spelman Shadow Secretary of State for International Development, a post she maintained until Duncan Smith's departure as Conservative Party leader. Duncan Smith's successor, Michael Howard, opted for a streamlined Shadow Cabinet and omitted Spelman; however, he later appointed her as a front bench spokeswoman on Environmental Affairs working for Theresa May. In March 2004, Spelman re-entered the Shadow Cabinet as Shadow Secretary of State for Local and Devolved Government Affairs, succeeding David Curry. Under David Cameron's leadership of the Conservative Party, in 2007 she was promoted further to become Conservative Party Chairman.
In 2009, Spelman was moved in another reshuffle to the role of Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, replacing Eric Pickles. In 2012, Spelman returned to the Commons backbenches. Spelman was opposed to Brexit prior to the 2016 referendum. In January 2016, Spelman became a Founding MP of Conservatives For Reform In Europe, the campaign to remain in the EU, subject to the Prime Minister's renegotiations, alongside Nick Herbert and Eric Pickles.
In January 2019 MPs approved a symbolic, non-binding amendment, tabled by Spelman, to prevent a no-deal Brexit, by 318 votes to 310.
In 2009, during the expenses scandal it was reported that Spelman had received £40,000 for cleaning and bills for her constituency home; this was despite her husband claiming it was their main home. In 2008 she reportedly over-claimed hundreds of pounds towards her council tax.
On 6 June 2008, Spelman was the subject of controversy when it was suggested that for around twelve months from May 1997 she paid her child's nanny, Tina Haynes, from her parliamentary staffing allowance, contrary to the rule governing such allowances and fears of the misuse of them. Spelman claims that her nanny also acted as her constituency secretary and was paid from the public taxpayers' purse for this aspect of her further employment. Haynes confirms that occasionally she would answer phone calls and post documents but initially she denied such happenings when interviewed on BBC Two's Newsnight via telephone. The accusations came at a time when Conservative Party leader David Cameron had tasked Spelman with reviewing the use of parliamentary allowances by Conservative MPs and MEPs in the wake of the Derek Conway affair.
The allegation against Spelman came shortly after two Conservative MEPs, Giles Chichester (Leader of the Conservatives in the EU Parliament) and Den Dover (Conservative Chief Whip in the EU Parliament), were forced to resign amid claims they misused their parliamentary allowances. However, Spelman was not urged to resign by party leader, David Cameron. She referred the matter pertaining to herself, her nanny and parliamentary funds to John Lyon, the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards. Senior Conservative colleagues including former Shadow Home Secretary David Davis stated their support for Spelman.
New allegations were reported on the BBC's Newsnight programme that nine years previously Spelman's secretary, Sally Hammond, complained to the Conservative Party leadership that she was using Parliamentary allowances to pay her nanny and that the arrangement with the nanny was over a two-year period and not one.
On 24 February 2012, the High Court in London refused to continue a privacy injunction previously granted to prevent the publication of a news item in the Daily Star Sunday involving her son. Judge Michael Tugendhat said that the injunction was "not necessary or proportionate". On 2 March 2012, the Spelmans decided not to appeal against the decision, which permitted the publication of a story about her son. The Spelman family was required to pay the legal costs of the Daily Star Sunday, in addition to their own legal costs of £60,994.
She married Mark Spelman, a senior partner at Accenture, on 25 April 1987 in south-east Kent. Her husband stood as a Conservative candidate in the 2009 European elections for the West Midlands region. They have two sons and a daughter. In 1997, Spelman was the only Conservative MP who was also a mother of school-age children; the Conservative party instructed that her children should be educated in her constituency as a condition of her selection as MP. As a result, Spelman rarely saw her children and she found this period of her life very stressful, losing a significant amount of weight.
The couple own a constituency home, a London townhouse and a villa in Algarve, Portugal.
She is a Patron of the Conservative Christian Fellowship.
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