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John Penrose

John Penrose
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State
at the Cabinet Office
Assumed office
11 May 2015
Prime Minister David Cameron
Preceded by Sam Gyimah
Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
In office
8 February 2014 – 11 May 2015
Prime Minister David Cameron
Preceded by Karen Bradley
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State
for Tourism and Heritage
In office
13 May 2010 – 4 September 2012
Prime Minister David Cameron
Preceded by Margaret Hodge
Succeeded by Office Dissolved
Member of Parliament
for Weston-super-Mare
Assumed office
5 May 2005
Preceded by Brian Cotter
Majority 2,691 (29.7%)
Personal details
Born (1964-06-22) 22 June 1964
Sudbury, Suffolk, England
Nationality British
Political party Conservative
Spouse(s) Dido Harding, Baroness Harding
Alma mater Downing College, Cambridge; Columbia University
Religion Anglican

John David Penrose (born 22 June 1964) is the Conservative Member of Parliament (MP) for Weston-super-Mare. He served as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport from 2010 to 2012, with focus upon heritage and tourism.[1]


  • Early life 1
  • Professional career 2
  • Parliamentary career 3
  • Outside Parliament 4
  • Personal life 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7

Early life

Born in Sudbury, Suffolk, he went to Ipswich School. He studied at Downing College, Cambridge, receiving a BA in Law in 1986. He received an MBA from Columbia University in 1991.

Professional career

He was a Bank Trading Floor management consultant at McKinsey & Company from 1992-4. He was Commercial Director of the Academic Books Division at Thomson Publishing in Andover from 1995-6, then Managing Director of Schools Book Publishing at Longman (Pearson PLC), publishing school textbooks for the UK and parts of Africa. He was chairman of Logotron Ltd in Cambridge. (also owned by Pearson). In 1998, he was in charge of research at the Bow Group.

Parliamentary career

He was elected in the 2005 general election, winning the seat from the Liberal Democrat Brian Cotter and retained his seat in the 2010 general election. He had previously contested Weston-super-Mare unsuccessfully in 2001, and Ealing Southall in 1997.

He served on the Work and Pensions Committee from July 2005 to January 2009, and in 2006 was appointed joint chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Further Education & Lifelong Learning. In 2006 he was also appointed Parliamentary Private Secretary to Oliver Letwin MP and in 2009 was promoted to Shadow Minister for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform.

Upon re-election and adoption of the coalition Government, Penrose served as Tourism & Heritage Minister from 2010 to 2012, covering the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the London Olympic and Paralympic Games. During his tenure the Tourism industry was one of the fastest-growing sectors of Britain’s economy, and he also wrote and implemented the Government’s Tourism Strategy; began a process to turn English Heritage’s properties, such as Stonehenge, Dover Castle, Tintagel and many others, into a second National Trust; removed licenses on live entertainment; sold the Tote bookmaker; protected the Lloyd's of London building with a ‘Grade 1’ listing amongst other activity. He was hailed as 'a GREAT tourism minister [who we] very much enjoyed working with' by VisitBritain ‘an excellent minister’ by Business In Sport and Leisure, ‘a great supporter of the tourism industry’ by the British Hospitality Association [link], ‘very effective’ by the Tourism Alliance, and “a champion for heritage” by The Council for British Archaeology.

Penrose returned to the backbenches in 2012. Apart from his constituency campaigns (described above) he wrote a radical but well-received paper (We Deserve Better) on how to give people a better deal on their utilities (gas, water, electricity etc.). He also believes we must protect beautiful urban townscapes by creating ‘listed views’, and protect green fields from urban sprawl by building up, not out.

Less than a year later the Prime Minister invited Penrose back to Number 10 to offer him a new position as Lord Commissioner of Her Majesty's Treasury, and effectively assistant government whip.

Outside Parliament

Penrose is a Patron of the South West branch of domestic violence charity the Mankind Initiative.[2] He is also President of Weston-super-Mare's YMCA, President of The Abbeyfield Weston-super-Mare Society, President of the League of Friends of the Weston-super-Mare Hospital, a governor of Weston College, a trustee of North Somerset Citizens Advice Bureau, and President of Weston-super-Mare and District Constitutional Club.[3]

Personal life

Penrose met the Hon. Dido (Diana) Harding, only daughter of Lord Harding, while both worked at McKinsey. The couple married in October 1995, and have two daughters. John splits his time between his home in the Weston-super-Mare constituency (Somerset), and a flat in London on the evenings when Parliament is sitting late.[4] Harding is the current Chief Executive of TalkTalk Group,[5] and owns the 1998 Cheltenham Gold Cup winning horse, Cool Dawn.[6][7]


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  4. ^ "John Penrose". The Conservative Party. Retrieved 2011-03-30. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ Dido Harding (8 Mar 1999). Cool Dawn: My National Velvet. Mainstream Publishing.  
  7. ^

External links

  • Official website
  • Personal/Staff Twitter Account
  • John Penrose MP biography at the site of the Conservative Party
  • Guardian Unlimited Politics - Ask Aristotle: John Penrose MP
  • - John Penrose MP
  • Weston-Super-Mare Conservatives
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Brian Cotter
Member of Parliament for Weston-super-Mare
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