Simon Hart


Simon Anthony Hart (born 15 August 1963)[3][4] is a British politician serving as Secretary of State for Wales since 2019. A member of the Conservative Party, he was first elected in the 2010 general election as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire, defeating the previous Labour MP Nick Ainger who had represented the constituency and its predecessor since 1992.[5] He was reelected in 2015, 2017 and 2019.


Simon Hart

Hart in 2017
Secretary of State for Wales
Assumed office
16 December 2019
Prime MinisterBoris Johnson
Preceded byAlun Cairns
Parliamentary Secretary for the Cabinet Office
In office
24 July 2019  16 December 2019
Prime MinisterBoris Johnson
Preceded byOliver Dowden
Succeeded byJeremy Quin
Member of Parliament
for Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire
Assumed office
6 May 2010
Preceded byNick Ainger
Majority7,745 (18.4%)[1]
Personal details
Born (1963-08-15) 15 August 1963 (age 56)
Wolverhampton, Staffordshire, England
NationalityBritish
Political partyConservatives
Spouse(s)Abigail Kate Hart[2]
Alma materRoyal Agricultural College
Websitewww.simon-hart.com

Early life


Hart was born in Wolverhampton on 15 August 1963 and grew up in the Cotswolds. He was privately educated at Radley College before attending the Royal Agricultural College in Cirencester.[6] He worked as a Chartered Surveyor in Carmarthen and Haverfordwest and served with the Territorial Army for five years in the Royal Gloucestershire Hussars (part of the Royal Wessex Yeomanry).

Political career


Previous to his political career, Hart was Master of the South Pembrokeshire Hunt for 10 years from 1988 to the end of the 1997/8 season and became Chief Executive of the pro-hunting Countryside Alliance, 2003–2010. He was in receipt of £30,000 per annum for 8 hours work per week from them, stepping down after his promotion to Welsh Secretary in 2019.[7]

He has been the MP for Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire since the 2010 general election. He was re-elected at the 2015 general election and 2017 general election. In the 2019 general election, Hart more than doubled his previous majority of 3,110[8] to 7,745. He secured 52.7% of the vote, up 5.9 percentage points compared to 2017.[9]

In 2014 Hart was accused of hypocrisy after receiving two £702 tickets from Japan Tobacco International, makers of Benson and Hedges, whilst opposing curbs on smoking.[10]

In 2017 Hart faced questions over breaches of the code of conduct and was being investigated over an alleged breach of paragraph 15.[11][12]

In August 2018, Hart accused actress Maxine Peake of hypocrisy, for 'taking money from the NHS for work on an advertisement, whilst attacking the Government for lack of investment in the NHS'. Peake responded that the fee came from an advertising agency and would not have gone back to the NHS if she had returned it, and she had donated the fee to The Salford Foundation Trust children's charity regardless.[13]

On 27 July 2019 he was promoted to Parliamentary Secretary at the Cabinet Office in Boris Johnson's administration.[14] He replaced fellow Conservative Oliver Dowden and stood down as Chairman of the Countryside Alliance.[15]

In October 2019 it was reported that Hart was the Welsh MP with the highest expense claims for first-class rail tickets. Official guidance from the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority states politicians should "consider value for money" when booking tickets; however, first-class rail travel is still permissible within the expenses rules.[16]

Hart has served on the Political and Constitutional Reform Select Committee, Welsh Affairs Select Committee, Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee, Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, Commons Select Committee on Standards and Commons Select Committee of Privileges.[17]

Defacement of election placards

In the run-up to the 2019 general election, Hart shared an image of a campaign placard which had been defaced during the 2017 general election.[18] Referencing the levels of "abuse … vitriol and intimidation" to which candidates had been subjected in 2017, Hart used a Facebook post to call for high standards of conduct among candidates, a subject on which he says he has worked to find cross-party solutions since the 2017 election.[19] However, during the 2019 election campaign, the same sign was shown to have two swastikas added, putting Hart under suspicion.[20]

Welsh Secretary

Following the 2019 general election, Hart was appointed Secretary of State for Wales by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.[21] He replaced Alun Cairns, who resigned amidst a scandal related to claims he lied about his knowledge of a rape trial.[22]

On 22 April 2020, during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, he became the first ever minister to speak in the Commons chamber via remote video link, answering a question from Marco Longhi, who also spoke remotely.[23][24]

Political stances


Countryside Alliance and animal rights

Hart is an outspoken supporter of fox hunting and the badger cull. He actively campaigns to overturn the 2004 Hunting Bill and assist the National Farmers Union of England and Wales.[25] In January 2013, Hart said the RSPCA's legal role needs more oversight given its "political and commercial activities" in a critique of the charity's role lobbying against fox hunting.[26]

Brexit

Despite voting Remain in the 2016 European Union referendum,[27] Hart has consistently argued that the result must be honoured and the UK must leave the EU. He helped form and lead the Brexit Delivery Group, a group of 51 MPs who argued for a negotiated exit from the EU.[28]

Personal life


Hart lives in London and Llanmill near Narberth in Pembrokeshire with his wife Abigail and their two children.[29] He employs his wife as his office manager.[30] He was listed in articles in The Daily Telegraph and The Guardian criticising the practice of MPs employing family members, on the basis that it promoted nepotism.[31][32]

References


  1. "Carmarthen West & Pembrokeshire South parliamentary constituency – Election 2019". BBC News. Retrieved 12 December 2019.
  2. Commons, House of. "House of Commons – The Register of Members' Financial Interests – Part 2: Part 2". www.publications.parliament.uk. Retrieved 11 June 2017.
  3. "No. 59418". The London Gazette. 13 May 2010. p. 8746.
  4. "Hart, Simon Anthony". 1 December 2012. doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.U4000714. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  5. "All change in Carmarthen and Pembrokeshire". BBC News, 7 May 2010.
  6. "Simon Hart". Telegraph.co.uk UK Political Database. Archived from the original on 21 July 2012.
  7. Rossington, Ben (3 January 2016). "Fox hunting backers have given this Tory environment committee member a pay rise". mirror.
  8. "Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire - 2017 Election Results - General Elections Online". electionresults.parliament.uk. Retrieved 17 December 2019.
  9. "Carmarthen West & Pembrokeshire South parliamentary constituency - Election 2019". Retrieved 17 December 2019.
  10. Lyons, James (6 June 2014). "Tories against smoking laws enjoy hospitality of tobacco giant at the Chelsea Flower Show". mirror.
  11. "Two MPs face code of conduct probes". 26 June 2017 via www.bbc.co.uk.
  12. Williamson, David (3 July 2017). "A Welsh MP was investigated for 'wrongly using an envelope'". walesonline.
  13. "Maxine Peake: Actress hits back over NHS ad 'hypocrisy' claim". BBC News. 6 August 2018. Retrieved 19 November 2019.
  14. "Simon Hart MP – GOV.UK". www.gov.uk. Retrieved 27 July 2019.
  15. Martin, Rachel (1 August 2019). "Countryside Alliance chairman stands down amid Cabinet Office appointment". Agri Land. Retrieved 19 November 2019.
  16. Sinclair, Bruce (15 October 2019). "MP Simon Hart claimed more than £7,500 in first-class rail tickets for himself, the highest of any Welsh MP". Western Telegraph. Haverfordwest. Retrieved 19 November 2019.
  17. "Simon Hart MP". GOV.UK. Retrieved 19 November 2019.
  18. https://www.facebook.com/SimonHartConservative/posts/1500247970150884?__tn__=K-R
  19. Priddy, Sarah; Johnston, Neil (17 May 2019). "Intimidation in public life". Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  20. Cockburn, Harry (29 November 2019). "Tory MP accused of adding swastika graffiti to his own election placard to get sympathy". The Independent. Retrieved 29 March 2020.
  21. "Simon Hart appointed new Welsh secretary". BBC News. 16 December 2019. Retrieved 17 December 2019.
  22. Hemming, Jez (6 November 2019). "Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns resigns over rape trial collapse scandal". North Wales Live. Retrieved 29 March 2020.
  23. Poole, Danielle. "Marco Longhi MP makes history by asking first question in virtual Parliament". Worcester News. Retrieved 22 April 2020.
  24. "Welsh minister attacks Raab over target comments". BBC News. 22 April 2020. Retrieved 22 April 2020.
  25. "NFU Cymru members express concern for future of the dairy industry to local MP" (Press release). NFU Cymru. 24 May 2013. Archived from the original on 3 July 2013.
  26. Mason, Rowena (29 January 2013). "RSPCA anti-hunting lawsuits driven by 'animal rights ideology'". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 11 June 2017.
  27. Goodenough, Tom (16 February 2016). "Which Tory MPs back Brexit, who doesn't and who is still on the fence?". The Spectator. London. Retrieved 11 October 2016.
  28. Payne, Sebastian; Tilford, Cale; Stabe, Martin (28 March 2019). "The Conservative party's Brexit tribes: an interactive guide". Financial Times. London. Retrieved 17 December 2019.
  29. "MP website". GOV.UK. Retrieved 7 February 2018.
  30. "They Work For You". Retrieved 7 February 2018.
  31. "One in five MPs employs a family member: the full list revealed". The Daily Telegraph. London. 29 June 2015. Retrieved 19 November 2019.
  32. Mason, Rowena (29 June 2015). "Keeping it in the family: new MPs continue to hire relatives as staff". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 19 November 2019.