Simon Anthony Hart (born 15 August 1963) 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. He was reelected in 2015, 2017 and 2019.
Hart in 2017
|Secretary of State for Wales|
|Assumed office |
16 December 2019
|Prime Minister||Boris Johnson|
|Preceded by||Alun Cairns|
|Parliamentary Secretary for the Cabinet Office|
24 July 2019 – 16 December 2019
|Prime Minister||Boris Johnson|
|Preceded by||Oliver Dowden|
|Succeeded by||Jeremy Quin|
|Member of Parliament |
for Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire
|Assumed office |
6 May 2010
|Preceded by||Nick Ainger|
|Born||15 August 1963|
Wolverhampton, Staffordshire, England
|Spouse(s)||Abigail Kate Hart|
|Alma mater||Royal Agricultural College|
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. 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).
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.
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 to 7,745. He secured 52.7% of the vote, up 5.9 percentage points compared to 2017.
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.
On 27 July 2019 he was promoted to Parliamentary Secretary at the Cabinet Office in Boris Johnson's administration. He replaced fellow Conservative Oliver Dowden and stood down as Chairman of the Countryside Alliance.
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.
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.
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. 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. However, during the 2019 election campaign, the same sign was shown to have two swastikas added, putting Hart under suspicion.
Following the 2019 general election, Hart was appointed Secretary of State for Wales by Prime Minister Boris Johnson. He replaced Alun Cairns, who resigned amidst a scandal related to claims he lied about his knowledge of a rape trial.
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.
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. 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.
Despite voting Remain in the 2016 European Union referendum, 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.
Hart lives in London and Llanmill near Narberth in Pembrokeshire with his wife Abigail and their two children. He employs his wife as his office manager. 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.
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