Open main menu

Guto ap Owain Bebb[1] (born 9 October 1968) is a Welsh Conservative Party politician and former business consultant who has served as Member of Parliament (MP) for Aberconwy since the 2010 general election. He had previously unsuccessfully contested elections to both the Welsh Assembly and the House of Commons. He has served as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Wales Office from 2016 to 2018 and served as Minister for Defence Procurement at the Ministry of Defence from January 2018 until July 2018.

Guto Bebb
MP
Official portrait of Guto Bebb crop 2.jpg
Minister for Defence Procurement
In office
9 January 2018 – 16 July 2018
Prime Minister Theresa May
Sec. of State Gavin Williamson
Preceded by Harriett Baldwin
Succeeded by Stuart Andrew
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State
for Wales
In office
19 March 2016 – 9 January 2018
Prime Minister David Cameron
Theresa May
Sec. of State Alun Cairns
Preceded by Alun Cairns
Succeeded by Stuart Andrew
Lord Commissioner of the Treasury
In office
19 March 2016 – 9 January 2018
Prime Minister David Cameron
Theresa May
Chancellor George Osborne
Philip Hammond
Preceded by Alun Cairns
Succeeded by Paul Maynard
Member of Parliament
for Aberconwy
Assumed office
6 May 2010
Preceded by Constituency established
Majority 635 (1.8%)
Personal details
Born (1968-10-09) 9 October 1968 (age 50)
Wrexham, Wales
Political party

Conservative (2002-Present)

Plaid Cymru (before 2002)
Spouse(s) Esyllt Bebb
Children 5
Alma mater Aberystwyth University
Website Official website
Parliament biography

Contents

Early life and careerEdit

Bebb was born in Wrexham on 9 October 1968 to a family who originated from Bangor and Blaenau Ffestiniog, and was a student at Ysgol Syr Hugh Owen in Caernarfon. He graduated from the University of Wales, Aberystwyth, in 1990 with a BA in history. He subsequently ran an economic development consultancy and also worked as the business development director of Innovas Wales.[2] He was also a partner in his wife's bookshop.

He is a former Plaid Cymru activist, and was chair of the party in Caernarfon.[3] He defected to the Conservatives after failing to be selected as the party's candidate for the seat on long-serving incumbent Dafydd Wigley's retirement.

Bebb first stood for the Conservatives in 2002, when he contested the safe Labour seat of Ogmore in a 2002 by-election caused by the death of the Labour MP Sir Raymond Powell. He finished in fourth place, many votes behind the successful candidate, Huw Irranca-Davies. He stood again in the 2003 Welsh Assembly election in which he was a candidate in the now-abolished constituency of Conwy. He came third, behind Labour and Plaid Cymru. At the 2005 general election he stood in Conwy, this time coming second behind Labour.

Parliamentary careerEdit

At the 2010 general election, boundary changes led to the creation of a new constituency called Aberconwy, based on the former Conwy. Bebb was selected as the Conservative candidate for this new seat, and was returned as the MP for Aberconwy with a majority of 3,398 or 11.3%.

He has been part of a number of delegations of the Conservative Friends of Israel group,[4] including during the Operation Defensive Shield conflict when he visited for an Israeli military briefing on the Iron Dome defence system.[5]

In March 2016, Bebb became the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales, following Stephen Crabb's move to the Department for Work and Pensions, and Alun Cairns' subsequent promotion to Secretary of State for Wales.[6]

Bebb was opposed to Brexit before the 2016 EU membership referendum. He retained Aberconwy in the 2017 general election with a small majority of 635 votes.[7]

On 16 July 2018, Bebb voted against the Government on the Taxation (Cross Border Trade) Bill, thereby resigning his role as Minister for Defence Procurement by convention of the payroll vote.[8] He also supports the People's Vote campaign for a public vote on the final Brexit deal between the UK and the European Union.[9]

In the House of Commons he has previously sat on the Public Accounts Committee, the Members' Expenses Committee and the Welsh Affairs Committee.[10]

Work on Fair Business BankingEdit

In January 2012, following a complaint by a constituent, Bebb raised the issue of the sale of Interest Rate Swap Agreements ("IRSAs") in Parliament. He asked the Leader of the House for a debate on the potential mis-selling of these complex interest rate hedging products ("IRHPs") by UK high street banks to over 40,000 small and medium-sized Businesses ("SMEs") throughout the UK. He also asked the Financial Services Authority ("the FSA") to look at this issue urgently and in detail. After Bebb had raised the issue in Parliament, the FSA announced that they would carry out an investigation into the way these products had been sold. On 21 June 2012, Bebb called a backbench business debate in the House of Commons to discuss the IRSA/IRHP mis-selling issue. After this debate, Bebb wrote to all MPs who had shown an interest in this subject inviting them to join an All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG). The purpose of this APPG was to seek meaningful redress for those SMEs that had been affected by the mis-selling of interest rate swaps and to pursue this on a cross-party basis. There are currently over 100 cross party MPs on the APPG which is now chaired by Calum Kerr MP and has been renamed Fair Business Banking.[11]

On 29 June 2012, the FSA reported that it had investigated the sale of IRSA/IRHPs to SMEs and had found evidence that over 90% of these sales had been mis-sales and that substantial damage had resulted to those SMEs mis-sold these products. The FSA announced that it had agreed with the four largest high street banks that a review and redress scheme would be put in place. This agreement was subsequently extended to a further seven banks.[12] As a result of slow progress and poor customer outcomes from the bank-led FSA IRHP Review, Bebb subsequently called and led two further backbench debates on the issue—the last in December 2014 when MPs across the house criticised the poor performance of the now Financial Conduct Authority ("the FCA" which had subsequently replaced the FSA) IRHP Review scheme.[13] Following hearings with the FCA and complaints from the APPG, victim groups, individual victims and various industry experts, the Treasury Select Committee (TSC), on 10 March 2015, published a report expressing concerns about the performance of the FCA's IRHP Redress Scheme and called for an independently monitored review of the Scheme.[14] This call for an independent review of the FCA's IRHP Scheme was immediately backed by the then Economic Secretary to the Treasury, Andrea Leadsom.[15] The FCA has not responded yet to either the TSC or HM Treasury.[citation needed]

ControversiesEdit

Bebb employs his wife as a part-time Office Manager.[16] In August 2017, he was accused of nepotism after he made the appointment just before a parliamentary ban on such practices came into force.[17] Articles in the Daily Telegraph and Guardian had previously criticised the practice of MPs employing family members, on the lines that it is not fair to other potential candidates.[18] [19] Although MPs who were first elected in 2017 have been banned from employing family members, the restriction is not retrospective - meaning that Bebb's employment of his wife is lawful.[20]

In August 2013, it was revealed that Bebb had claimed the third highest food and drinks expenses claim in the entire country, as well as the highest overall expneses claim for an MP in North Wales. However, he responded that all his claims were within the revised expenses regulations.[21] In October 2012, he was criticised for claiming expenses for first class tickets when he travelled by rail, despite official guidance from parliamentary watchdog IPSA - set up in the wake of the 2009 expenses scandal - saying politicians should “consider value for money” when booking tickets. However, he argued that his claims were permissible within the expenses rules and that the first class tickets were cheaper than some standard class tickets available.[22]

Bebb has attracted media attention for some of his more controversial language used when interacting with critical constituents. In 2014, Bebb became involved in a dispute with an Aberconwy constituent after an exchange on Twitter, leading to criticism in the media[23] regarding his negative comments about Asperger's syndrome.[24][25] In 2017, he accused a constituent of ‘talking out of his ****hole’ when he challenged him on his voting record, asking him if he had voted against getting rid of the cap on public sector pay, as well as the deal between the Conservatives and the Democratic Unionist Party.[26]

In April 2015, argumentative emails between Bebb and the chairman of his local Conservative Party Association were leaked and reported by the BBC. Bebb was accused of a lack of loyalty and support in regards to the Welsh Conservatives, not living in the constituency and being egocentric. Bebb responded that the chairman was a 'disgrace' and his work had been line with advice from the national Conservative Party.[27]

Personal lifeEdit

Bebb's native language is Welsh. He is the grandson of Ambrose Bebb, co-founder of Plaid Cymru,[3] the nephew of Welsh rugby international Dewi Bebb and the first cousin of professional golfer Sion Bebb. He is married to Esyllt Bebb; the couple have five children.[citation needed]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Crown Office". Retrieved 21 July 2016.
  2. ^ "Aberystwyth at Westminster". Aberystwyth University. Retrieved 29 October 2010.
  3. ^ a b Times Guide to the House of Commons 2010, p87
  4. ^ "Delegations". Conservative Friends of Israel. Archived from the original on 10 August 2014. Retrieved 14 June 2018.
  5. ^ Mason, Rowena (30 July 2014). "Tory MPs' visit to Israel condemned as bad timing". Retrieved 21 July 2016.
  6. ^ "Office of the Secretary of State for Wales – GOV.UK". www.gov.uk. Retrieved 9 June 2017.
  7. ^ Goodenough, Tom (16 February 2016). "Which Tory MPs back Brexit, who doesn't and who is still on the fence?". The Spectator. Retrieved 11 October 2016.
  8. ^ "Government scrapes through EU customs votes". BBC News. 17 July 2018. Retrieved 17 July 2018.
  9. ^ Wheeler, Brian (11 September 2018). "The Brexit factions reshaping UK politics". BBC News. Retrieved 15 September 2018. Sarah Wollaston, has joined the People's Vote campaign along with Phillip Lee and Guto Bebb
  10. ^ "Guto Bebb". Parliament UK. Retrieved 17 October 2018.
  11. ^ "House of Commons - Register Of All-Party Groups as at 30 March 2015: Interest Rate Swap Mis-Selling". Retrieved 21 July 2016.
  12. ^ "Interest rate hedging products (IRHP)". 18 February 2016. Retrieved 21 July 2016.
  13. ^ "MPs debated the Financial Conduct Authority's redress scheme". parliament.uk. 4 December 2014. Retrieved 4 December 2014.
  14. ^ "House of Commons – Conduct and competition in SME lending – Treasury". Retrieved 21 July 2016.
  15. ^ Leadsom, Andrea (12 March 2015). "Letter" (PDF). HM Treasury. Retrieved 14 June 2018.
  16. ^ "IPSA". GOV.UK. Retrieved 17 October 2018.
  17. ^ "Nepotism update". Private Eye. London: Pressdram Ltd. 11 August 2017.
  18. ^ "One in five MPs employs a family member: the full list revealed". \Daily Telegraph. 2015-06-29. Retrieved 17 October 2018.
  19. ^ Mason, Rowena (29 June 2015). "Keeping it in the family: new MPs continue to hire relatives as staff". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 October 2018.
  20. ^ "MPs banned from employing spouses after election in expenses crackdown". London Evening Standard. 21 April 2017. Retrieved 17 October 2018.
  21. ^ "MPs Expenses: Guto Bebb claims more than any other member in North Wales". Daily Post. 17 August 2013. Retrieved 17 October 2018.
  22. ^ "The gravy train: MPs travel first class". Daily Telegraph. 20 October 2012. Retrieved 17 October 2018.
  23. ^ Culzac, Natasha (5 September 2014). "MP advises man not to 'publicly comment' on issues if he has mental health problems". The Independent. London. Retrieved 5 September 2014.
  24. ^ Williamson, David (5 September 2014). "Aberconwy MP Guto Bebb embroiled in controversy with man who has Asperger's syndrome". Retrieved 21 July 2016.
  25. ^ "TheyWorkForYou". www.theyworkforyou.com. Retrieved 25 April 2016.
  26. ^ "Bebb tells constituent he's 'talking out of his ***hole' in letter after complaints over voting record". Daily Post. Retrieved 17 July 2018.
  27. ^ "Election 2015: Aberconwy Tory hopeful loses chairman's backing". BBC. Retrieved 17 October 2018.

External linksEdit