John Wheeler (British politician)
Wheeler was elected for the marginal constituency of Paddington at the 1979 general election, winning the seat with a majority of just 106 after two recounts. He was put on the Home Affairs Select Committee as soon as it was established. At the 1983 general election he was elected for the new constituency of Westminster North, a seat based largely on Paddington but also taking in the abolished St Marylebone constituency.
Select Committee work
After 1987, Wheeler was made Chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee. He was hoping and expecting to continue this role after 1992 but found that the Conservative whips had made a rule that no member may serve on a Select Committee for more than three terms. It was suggested in the press that this rule was designed to get rid of Nicholas Winterton who had been a troublesome chair of the Health Select Committee, and that Wheeler was regarded as 'collateral damage'.
Northern Ireland Office
Friendly with John Major because of entering Parliament together and being ideologically close, Wheeler was subsequently appointed to the government, serving as Security Minister at the Northern Ireland Office; he was also made a member of the Privy Council. He was knighted in the New Year's Honours list of 1993.
In 1995, boundary changes were announced that would expand his constituency to the west, taking in Labour-voting areas of north Kensington and tilting the seat towards Labour. Wheeler decided that he did not wish to contest such unfavourable territory and sought selection elsewhere.
In September 1995 Wheeler announced his intention to challenge Sir Nicholas Scott in the new constituency of Kensington and Chelsea. Scott was perceived as vulnerable after personal scandals, and also because he was a very moderate MP in a party which was moving to the right. However, Wheeler did not make the shortlist, and he was rejected elsewhere. One newspaper report suggested that Conservative Associations were put off by the security detail who had to come with Wheeler whenever he visited. Wheeler also suffered by association when the corruption of Westminster City Council under Dame Shirley Porter was uncovered: his constituency was in the city and part of the scandal was attempts to hold his seat, although Wheeler himself had done nothing wrong.
After Sir Nicholas Scott had a scandal too far and resigned, Wheeler tried again to be selected in Kensington and Chelsea but met with no more success. Although his name was mentioned whenever a Conservative seat fell vacant, he was unsuccessful and therefore retired from Parliament at the 1997 general election. His prediction of losing his old seat was indeed right, as Karen Buck of the Labour Party became the new MP for Regent's Park & Kensington North, which covered most of Wheeler's old constituency. Buck has remained the MP there ever since.
Since leaving Parliament, Wheeler has undertaken a review of airport security for the United Kingdom and Australian governments in the light of the 11 September 2001 attacks. He was also the Chairman of the Service Authorities of the National Crime Squad and the National Criminal Intelligence Service between 1998 and 2002. He is a Deputy Lieutenant of Greater London with responsibility for the London Borough of Merton.
Wheeler was chairman of Reliance Custodial Services Limited, part of Reliance Security Group, from 1997 to 2000. He was non-executive director of security equipment companies Jasmin Plc from 1997 to 1998 and Norbain from 1998 to 1999, and corporate intelligence firm Merchant International Group from 2003. He is a patron of Prisoners Abroad, a charity that supports the welfare of Britons imprisoned overseas and their families.
- Times Guide to the House of Commons 1992