James Arbuthnot


The Lord Arbuthnot of Edrom
Official portrait of Lord Arbuthnot of Edrom crop 2.jpg
Arbuthnot in 2018
Chairman of the Defence Select Committee
In office
13 July 2005 – 14 May 2014
Preceded byBruce George
Succeeded byRory Stewart
Shadow Secretary of State for Trade
In office
6 November 2003 – 6 May 2005
LeaderMichael Howard
Preceded byTim Yeo (Trade and Industry)
Succeeded byDavid Willetts (Trade and Industry)
Opposition Chief Whip
in the House of Commons
In office
23 June 1997 – 18 September 2001
LeaderWilliam Hague
Preceded byAlastair Goodlad
Succeeded byDavid Maclean
Minister of State for Defence Procurement
In office
6 July 1995 – 2 May 1997
Prime MinisterJohn Major
Preceded byRoger Freeman
Succeeded byJohn Gilbert
Member of the House of Lords
Lord Temporal
Assumed office
1 October 2015
Life Peerage
Member of Parliament
for North East Hampshire
In office
1 May 1997 – 30 March 2015
Preceded byConstituency created
Succeeded byRanil Jayawardena
Member of Parliament
for Wanstead and Woodford
In office
11 June 1987 – 8 April 1997
Preceded byPatrick Jenkin
Succeeded byConstituency abolished
Personal details
Born (1952-08-04) 4 August 1952 (age 69)
Deal, Kent, England
Political partyConservative
Spouse(s)Emma née Broadbent
(styled professionally as Judge Emma Arbuthnot, or formally as The Baroness Arbuthnot of Edrom)
Children4, including Leaf Arbuthnot
Alma materTrinity College, Cambridge
Inns of Court
UK Baron's coronet

James Norwich Arbuthnot, Baron Arbuthnot of Edrom, PC (born 4 August 1952), is a British Conservative Party politician. He was Member of Parliament (MP) for Wanstead and Woodford from 1987 to 1997, and then MP for North East Hampshire from 1997 to 2015.

Arbuthnot served as chairman of the Defence Select Committee from 2005 to 2014,[1] before being nominated as a life peer in the Dissolution Peerages List 2015 of August 2015.[2]

Created Baron Arbuthnot of Edrom, of Edrom in the County of Berwick, on 1 October 2015,[3] Lord Arbuthnot sits on the Conservative benches in the House of Lords.

Early life

Arbuthnot was born in Deal, Kent, the second son of Sir John Arbuthnot, 1st Baronet, MP for Dover between 1950 and 1964, and Margaret Jean Duff.[4] He was educated at Wellesley House School in Broadstairs and Eton College, where he was captain of School, before going up to Trinity College, Cambridge, where he obtained a law degree (BA) in 1974.[5]

Arbuthnot was called to the Bar by Lincoln's Inn in 1975 and became a practising barrister. An active member of the Chelsea Conservative Association, he was elected a councillor of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in 1978, and remained a councillor until he was elected to the House of Commons in 1987.[6] In 1980 he became the vice-chairman of the Chelsea Conservative Association.

Arbuthnot contested the Cynon Valley seat, in the Labour heartland of industrial South Wales, at the 1983 general election and was defeated by Ioan Evans. A year later in 1984, Evans died and Arbuthnot fought the resulting by-election, but he was again defeated by the Labour candidate, Ann Clwyd.

Member of Parliament

In government (1988–1997)

In the 1987 general election Arbuthnot was chosen to contest the safe Conservative seat of Wanstead and Woodford, as the sitting MP, Patrick Jenkin, was standing down. Arbuthnot won the seat and increased the Conservative majority by over 2,000 to 16,412.[7]

In 1988 he became the Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) to Archie Hamilton at the Ministry of Defence, and in 1990 became the PPS to the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, Peter Lilley. He entered the John Major government after the 1992 general election when he was made an Assistant Government Whip. He was promoted in 1994 as the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department of Social Security. The following year he was promoted to Minister for Defence Procurement, where he remained until the end of the Major government in 1997.

Arbuthnot stated that one of his most pleasing parliamentary achievements was "organising an all-party meeting with the Prime Minister for the exoneration of the pilots of the Chinook that crashed on the Mull of Kintyre in 1994".

In opposition (1997–2010)

Arbuthnot's seat of Wanstead and Woodford was abolished at the 1997 general election, when he was selected for the new seat of North East Hampshire. In Opposition, he was a member of William Hague's Shadow Cabinet as the Conservative Party's Chief Whip until the 2001 general election when he returned to the backbenches. He was sworn of the Privy Council in 1998.

Arbuthnot returned to the Shadow Cabinet under Michael Howard as Shadow Trade Secretary in 2003, but stood down after the 2005 general election. Since that election he served as the chairman of the influential Defence Select Committee and was Chair of the Special Select Committee set up to scrutinise the Bill that became the Armed Forces Act 2011.[8] He is a Senior Associate Fellow of the Royal United Services Institute.

Arbuthnot was the parliamentary chairman of the Conservative Friends of Israel.[9] He was also a member of the Top Level Group of UK Parliamentarians for Multilateral Nuclear Disarmament and Non-proliferation, established in October 2009.[10]

In the 2009 expenses scandal, Arbuthnot apologised and repaid the public money he had claimed for his swimming pool to be cleaned.[11] Later that year, he was further criticised in the press for £15,000 of expenses he claimed for upkeep at his second home, including tree surgery and painting his summer house.[12]

In government (2010–2015)

In June 2011 Arbuthnot announced that he would not contest the next general election.[13] On 16 January 2015, he publicly declared his atheism, stating "the pressure on a Conservative politician, particularly of keeping quiet about not being religious, is very similar to the pressure that there has been about keeping quiet about being gay"; he later clarified that he is not gay.[14]

Arbuthnot has been playing a pivotal role in helping the Sub Postmasters affected by the Great Post Office Scandal to seek justice after the post office wrongly – and, it has been alleged, knowingly – sought and obtained convictions for theft, fraud and false accounting against a large number of them.[15]

Personal life

On 6 September 1984, Arbuthnot married Emma Louise Broadbent,[16][17] daughter of Michael Broadbent, Wine Director of Christie's. She is a Justice of the High Court, having previously served as the Senior District Judge (Chief Magistrate) for England and Wales.

James Arbuthnot is the chairman of the advisory board of the UK division of multinational defence and security systems manufacturer Thales. He is a Senior Associate Fellow of the defence and security think tank Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies.[18]

He is a direct descendant of James V of Scotland.[4] His middle name is after his great-great grandfather, Norwich Duff (1792-1862).[19] He is also a distant cousin of Gerald Arbuthnot, the former MP for Burnley.[20]

Arbuthnot and his wife have one son (The Hon. Alexander Arbuthnot, born 1986) and three daughters (The Hon. Kate Arbuthnot, born 1989; The Hon. Leaf Arbuthnot, born 1992; The Hon. Alice Arbuthnot, born 1998). Lord and Lady Arbuthnot divide their time between London and Berkshire.


Coat of arms of James Arbuthnot
The Arms depicted are those of his father and his older brother, Sir William Arbuthnot Bt
A Peacock's head and neck Proper accompanied on either side by a Spray of Strawberry Leaves Vert each flowered of a Cinquefoil Argent.
Azure a Crescent between three Mullets Argent a Bordure Gules charged with two Escallops in chief and a Buck's Head cabossed Or in base.
Deum Laudans (Praising God)
Arms of the Arbuthnot baronets

See also


  1. ^ "MP Profile". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 9 March 2013.
  2. ^ "Dissolution Peerages 2015". Gov.uk. Retrieved 27 August 2015.
  3. ^ "notice 2410213". The London Gazette.
  4. ^ a b Burke's Peerage 2003, page 126
  5. ^ "James Arbuthnot MP profile". BBC News. Retrieved 17 July 2008.
  6. ^ "Rt Hon James Arbuthnot MP profile". Conservative Party. Archived from the original on 5 February 2009. Retrieved 22 February 2009.
  7. ^ University of Keele - Political Science Resources - UK General Election results June 1987
  8. ^ "Select Committee on the Armed Forces Bill". parliament.uk. Retrieved 20 September 2013.
  9. ^ "Conservative Friends of Israel - About Us". Archived from the original on 26 September 2008.
  10. ^ Borger, Julian (8 September 2009). "Nuclear-free world ultimate aim of new cross-party pressure group". The Guardian. London.
  11. ^ Watt, Holly (11 May 2009). "MPs' expenses: Senior Tory James Arbuthnot charged taxpayer for pool cleaning". London: The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 18 February 2013.
  12. ^ Swaine, Jon (11 December 2009). "MPs' expenses: James Arbuthnot claimed £2,750 for tree surgery at £2m home". London: The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 18 February 2013.
  13. ^ "Tory MP James Arbuthnot to step down for 'new challenge'". BBC News. 6 June 2011. Retrieved 6 June 2011.
  14. ^ "Tory MP James Arbuthnot reveals pressure to hide atheism". BBC News. 16 January 2015. Retrieved 19 June 2017.
  15. ^ "The Great Post Office Trial - Parts 1-5 - BBC Sounds". www.bbc.co.uk.
  16. ^ "Arbuthnot, Emma Louise, (Lady Arbuthnot of Edrom), (born 9 Jan. 1959), Senior District Judge (Chief Magistrate), since 2016; a District Judge (Magistrates' Courts), since 2005; a Recorder, since 2002". Oxford University Press. 1 December 2007. doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.u59503.
  17. ^ "Extradition Law Committee - timeline - UK Parliament". www.parliament.uk. 18 October 2019. Archived from the original on 18 October 2019. Retrieved 29 May 2021.
  18. ^ "LORD (JAMES) ARBUTHNOT PROFILE". Information Assurance Advisory Council. Archived from the original on 7 July 2019. Retrieved 7 July 2019.
  19. ^ Mosley, Charles, ed. (2003), Burke's Peerage, Baronetage & Knightage, 1 (107th ed.), Wilmington, Delaware: Burke's Peerage (Genealogical Books) Ltd, p. 126, ISBN 978-0-9711966-2-9
  20. ^ "Former MP killed in WW1 finally added to Parliament's memorial". BBC News. 10 November 2018. Retrieved 10 November 2020.

External links

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by Member of Parliament
for Wanstead and Woodford

Constituency abolished
New constituency Member of Parliament
for North East Hampshire

Succeeded by
Party political offices
Preceded by Conservative Chief Whip of the House of Commons
Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by Opposition Chief Whip of the House of Commons
Succeeded by
Preceded byas Shadow Secretary of State for Trade and Industry Shadow Secretary of State for Trade
Succeeded byas Shadow Secretary of State for Trade and Industry
Orders of precedence in the United Kingdom
Preceded by Gentlemen
Baron Arbuthnot of Edrom
Followed by
The Lord O'Shaughnessy