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Colonel John Mark Lancaster, TD, VR (born 12 May 1970) is a British Conservative Party politician, who served as Member of Parliament for Milton Keynes North from the seat's creation at the 2010 general election until 2019, having been Member of Parliament for the North East Milton Keynes constituency between 2005 and 2010. Since 13 June 2017, he has been Minister of State for the Armed Forces in the Second May ministry.

Mark Lancaster

Rt Hon Mark Lancaster TD MP.jpg
Minister of State for the Armed Forces
Assumed office
13 June 2017
Prime MinisterTheresa May
Boris Johnson
Preceded byMike Penning
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence Veterans, Reserves and Personnel
In office
12 May 2015 – 13 June 2017
Prime MinisterDavid Cameron
Theresa May
Preceded byAnna Soubry
Succeeded byTobias Ellwood
Lord Commissioner of the Treasury
In office
9 September 2012 – 12 May 2015
Prime MinisterDavid Cameron
Preceded byJeremy Wright
Succeeded byCharlie Elphicke
Member of Parliament
for Milton Keynes North
North East Milton Keynes
In office
5 May 2005 – 6 November 2019
Preceded byBrian White
Succeeded byTBD
Personal details
Born (1970-05-12) 12 May 1970 (age 49)[1]
Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England
Political partyConservative
Katherine Reader
(m. 1995; div. 2007)

ResidenceOlney, Buckinghamshire
Alma materUniversity of Buckingham
University of Exeter
Military service
AllegianceUnited Kingdom
Branch/serviceBritish Army Reserve
Years of service1988–present
UnitRoyal Engineers
Commands217 (London) Field Squadron (EOD)
Battles/warsWar in Afghanistan
AwardsEfficiency Decoration
Volunteer Reserves Service Medal

Initially appointed as the PPS to the Secretary of State for International Development,[2] Lancaster was appointed Lord Commissioner of Her Majesty's Treasury in September 2012. He was appointed Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence Personnel, and Veterans at the Ministry of Defence following the formation of the second Cameron ministry on 12 May 2015. He was reappointed by Theresa May on her becoming prime minister in June 2016 and had Reserves added to his portfolio, changing job title to Minister for Defence Veterans, Reserves and Personnel. He was promoted to Minister of State for the Armed Forces after the 2017 general election. He was appointed to the Privy Council in November 2017. In November 2019 he announced his retirement from Parliament due to the abuse he suffered as an MP.[3]

Early lifeEdit

Lancaster was born on 12 May 1970 in Cambridge. He was privately educated at Kimbolton School in Huntingdonshire where his father Ronald Lancaster was chaplain.[4] He graduated as a BSc in Business Studies from the University of Buckingham and MBA from the University of Exeter Business School. He was awarded an Honorary PhD from Buckingham in 2008.[5]

He was a company director for the family firm Kimbolton Fireworks before he was elected to Parliament.[4]

Military careerEdit

Between 1988 and 1990 Lancaster served in the British Army on an extended gap year Commission in Hong Kong with the Queen's Gurkha Engineers before going to university. He then transferred his Commission to the Army Reserve where he continues to serve as a colonel in the Royal Engineers, commanding an Explosive Ordnance Disposal unit.[6] He has been on active service three times in Kosovo (1999–2000), Bosnia (2001–2002) and Afghanistan (2006).[4] He is currently Deputy Commander of 77th Brigade.[7]

He received a number of military honours and decorations between 2000 and 2016, including the Territorial Decoration (TD) in 2002 and the Volunteer Reserves Service Medal (VRSM) in 2011. He was awarded the Bar for a further five years service in 2016.

Political careerEdit

Lancaster stood unsuccessfully as the Conservative candidate for the Huntingdon West ward on Huntingdonshire District Council in 1994, before being elected in the Ellington ward in 1995. He served as the chairman of the Leisure Committee (1996–1999). He lost his council seat in the local elections in 1999 to the Liberal Democrat candidate and was defeated again in 2002 in the Buckden ward.[8]

Lancaster stood unsuccessfully as the Conservative candidate for Nuneaton at the 2001 general election. He was defeated by the Labour candidate Bill Olner.

Lancaster was elected as Member of Parliament gaining North East Milton Keynes for the Conservatives in the 2005 general election, and succeeding Brian White of the Labour Party.

Lancaster was a Conservative Party whip between November 2006 until July 2007, when he was appointed Shadow Minister for International Development under the then Leader of the Opposition David Cameron.[5][9][10]

He has served on the Office of Deputy Prime Minister Select Committee, (2005), Defence Select Committee (2006),[11] Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee (2008–09) and the International Development Select Committee (2009–10).[12]

In 2006, he introduced a Ten Minute Rule Bill in the House that would allow local councils to ban glasses and bottles in late night clubs and bars and replace them with plastic in support of his constituent Blake Golding. Lancaster also submitted an early day motion in 2006 calling for the government to ban sales of alcohol in glass containers in bars after 11 pm.[13][14]

He was the (unpaid) parliamentary advisor to the Royal Society of Chemistry until his promotion to minister in 2012.[15]

Shortly after his re-election in 2010, he was appointed as the Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) to the Secretary of State for International Development. In September 2012 he became a Government Minister when he was made a Lord Commissioner of Her Majesty's Treasury. In May 2015 he was appointed Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Defence, with responsibility for Defence Veterans and Personnel. He had Reserves added to his portfolio in 2016. He was promoted to the Minister of State for the Armed Forces after the 2017 general election, at which he was re-elected.

In 2011, he was a member of the special select committee set up to scrutinise the Bill that became the Armed Forces Act 2011.[16] He was also a member of the Public Bill Committee for the Defence Reform Act 2014.[17]

In November 2017, he was made a member of the Privy Council.[18]

Political viewsEdit

Lancaster has stated his disagreement with the UK Government's policy on the 2003 invasion of Iraq. In an interview with the BBC, he stated "It may well be much harder to get the British public to back other overseas adventures by the military because of what's happened in Iraq".[19] According to the Public Whip, he voted strongly against the introduction of ID cards and in favour of a smoking ban and an investigation into the Iraq war. In votes involving transparency of parliament (including MPs expenses),[20] gay rights, and climate change his voting record is not easily categorized by obvious stereotypes, although in early 2013, Lancaster voted against legislation allowing gay couples to marry at second reading but supported minor 'tidying up' legislation supporting the principle once the main Bill had passed through the House of Commons.[15] He later tweeted in July 2016 that he had been wrong to have opposed second reading.

In 2011 Lancaster introduced his own Private Members Bill, which enabled special Olympic 1 kg gold and silver coins to be struck by the Royal Mint as part of the 2012 Olympic legacy. These were launched by the Royal Mint. In 2013 Lancaster was successful in his four-year campaign to get Khat classified as a category C drug following calls from his constituents.


Initially under new Parliamentary rules introduced after the 2010 general election, Lancaster did not qualify for the second homes allowances as he was considered to be a 'London Area MP' during which time he had no second home or London accommodation. The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) reversed this decision following their review in April 2011. In the 2005–10 Parliament, Lancaster was left unscathed by the expenses investigation, he did not feature in The Daily Telegraph's investigation and was one of a minority of MPs not asked to pay back any money as a result of the Sir Thomas Legg Enquiry.[21] However, in 2011, he was investigated by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority over an allegation that he had received funding for claims relating to a website that did not comply with the rules for legitimate expense claims. He was found to have contravened the rules, but it was decided to take no further action.[22]

Personal lifeEdit

Lancaster lives in London with his wife, Conservative MP for Gosport Caroline Dinenage, and at his property in Olney in Buckinghamshire.[23] He was previously married to Katherine Reader between 1995 and 2009; the couple had a foster child. After that relationship ended, he was briefly partnered with Amanda Evans and they had a daughter. In February 2014, he married Dinenage, who had also been previously married.[24][25] Lancaster is a supporter of MK Dons, and enjoys playing cricket, which includes the House of Commons team.[4][26]


Ribbon Description Notes
  NATO Medal for Kosovo
  • 2000
  NATO Former Republic of Yugoslavia Medal
  • 2002

With clasp ' Former Yugoslavia '

  OSM for Afghanistan
  • 2006
  • With "AFGHANISTAN" Clasp
  Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal
  • 2002
  • UK Version of this Medal
  Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal
  • 2012
  • UK Version of this Medal
  Efficiency Decoration (TD)
  Volunteer Reserves Service Medal
  • 2011
  • 2016 bar for 5 years further service
  • 10 Years Service in the Army Reserves


  1. ^ "Mark Lancaster". BBC News. 13 February 2007. Archived from the original on 5 June 2009. Retrieved 1 April 2008.
  2. ^ "Ministers and Senior Management Organisation Chart" (PDF). Department for International Development. November 2017. Retrieved 7 December 2017.
  3. ^ "Mark Lancaster to stand down as Milton Keynes North MP". BBC News. 2 November 2019.
  4. ^ a b c d Dolan, Andy (7 March 2009). "Lover splits from high-flying Tory MP and says she'll now vote Labour". Daily Mail. London. Retrieved 5 March 2014.
  5. ^ a b "Biography of Mark Lancaster". Conservative Party. Retrieved 18 July 2009.
  6. ^ "Bomb Disposal and Search Specialists". British Army. Retrieved 7 December 2017.
  7. ^ "The New Line Up At The Ministry Of Defence". Ministry of Defence. 10 January 2018. Retrieved 16 July 2018.
  8. ^ "Huntingdonshire Council Election Results 1973–2011" (PDF). Plymouth University. Retrieved 8 September 2018.
  9. ^ "Mark Lancaster: Electoral history and profile". The Guardian. London. Archived from the original on 25 May 2009. Retrieved 15 September 2010.
  10. ^ "City MP is promoted". MK News. 11 July 2007. Retrieved 15 September 2010.
  11. ^ "Mark Lancaster: Electoral history and profile". The Guardian. London: Guardian News and Media. Retrieved 30 July 2009.
  12. ^ "International Development Committee: Members". Parliament of the United Kingdom. Archived from the original on 25 September 2009. Retrieved 30 July 2009.
  13. ^ "A year in the life of Milton Keynes". Peterborough Evening Telegraph. 27 December 2006. Retrieved 7 April 2015.
  14. ^ "House of Commons 19 Jun 2006 : Column 1047". Parliament of the United Kingdom. Retrieved 7 April 2015.
  15. ^ a b "Mark Lancaster MP, Milton Keynes North". TheyWorkForYou. Retrieved 15 September 2010.
  16. ^ "Select Committee on the Armed Forces Bill". Parliament of the United Kingdom. Retrieved 20 September 2013.
  17. ^ "House of Commons Public Bill Committee on the Defence Reform Bill 2013–14". Parliament of the United Kingdom. Retrieved 17 September 2013.
  18. ^ "Queen approves new members of the Privy Council". GOV.UK. 14 November 2017. Retrieved 7 December 2017.
  19. ^ Easton, Mark (20 March 2007). "Iraq: has it changed UK politics?". BBC News. Retrieved 15 September 2010.
  20. ^ "Mark Lancaster compared to 'Transparency of Parliament'". Public Whip. Retrieved 15 September 2010.
  21. ^ "MPs bare all over expenses". MK News. 21 May 2009. Retrieved 15 September 2010.
  22. ^ "IPSA Investigation" (PDF). HM Parliament. Retrieved 8 September 2018.
  23. ^ "IPSA record". IPSA. Retrieved 8 September 2018.
  24. ^ "GCity MP splits from mother of his baby". MK Citizen. 5 March 2009. Retrieved 8 September 2018.
  25. ^ "Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage weds fellow politician at House of Commons chapel". Portsmouth News. 17 February 2014. Retrieved 5 March 2014.
  26. ^ "The home of cricket resounds to the sound of leather on Campbell Park willow". MK News. Local Sunday Newspapers. 4 July 2007. Retrieved 8 July 2009.

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