Owen Paterson

Owen Paterson
The Right Honourable
Owen Paterson
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
Assumed office
12 May 2010
Prime Minister David Cameron
Preceded by Shaun Woodward
Shadow Secretary of State for
Northern Ireland
In office
2 July 2007 – 12 May 2010
Preceded by David Lidington
Succeeded by Shaun Woodward
Member of Parliament
for North Shropshire
Assumed office
1 May 1997
Preceded by John Biffen
Majority 15,828 (30.5%)
Personal details
Born 24 June 1956 (1956-06-24) (age 55)
Whitchurch, England
Political party Conservative
Spouse(s) Rose Ridley
Alma mater Corpus Christi College, Cambridge
Profession Leather industries
Website Constituency website

Owen William Paterson (born 24 June 1956) is a British Conservative Party politician and Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. He is the Member of Parliament (MP) for North Shropshire.


Early life and career

Paterson was born in Whitchurch, Shropshire. He attended Abberley Hall School and Radley College, before going up to Cambridge University, where he studied History at Corpus Christi College and graduated in 1978. He then went on to the National Leathersellers College (now the British School of Leather Technology at the University of Northampton).[1]

He joined the British Leather Company in 1979, becoming Sales Director in 1983 and Managing Director from 1993 to 1999. He was President of COTANCE,[2] the European Tanners Confederation from 1996–1998. He was a Director of Parsons and Sons[3] leather company in Halesowen in the 1990s. Paterson is a Liveryman of the Leathersellers' Company.

Member of Parliament

Before becoming a frontbencher Owen served on several committees. These included the Welsh Affairs 1997-2001, European Standing Committee A 1998-2001, Welsh Grand Committee 1998-2000 European Scrutiny 1999-2000, Agriculture 2000-01.[4]

Constituency Member of Parliament

He contested, but failed to win, the Wrexham seat in the 1992 general election. He is Member of Parliament for North Shropshire, being first elected at the 1997 general election and has won at all general elections there since. At each election he has significantly increased his share of the vote. At the general election 2010 Owen received 26,692 votes giving him a majority of 15,825 (an increase of over 5,000) with a 51.5% share of the vote.[5]

Whilst generally choosing to maintain a low media profile, for March 2008, he was voted the second best Conservative MP "Media Performer"" on Iain Dale's blog.[6]

Owen is a passionate supporter of Royal Irish Regiment which is based in his constituency at Tern Hill and wears a green wristband backing the Regiment. This continues to show this support despite being challenged by Gerry Adams on this matter.[7]

He is a Eurosceptic, with extensive knowledge of exporting to Europe from his career in business.[citation needed]

Front bench politician

Throughout his time in parliament Owen has risen steadily through the front bench ranks of the Conservative Party. He is seen as a reliable, loyal and hardworking frontbencher.[citation needed]

  • Peter Oborne comments that "Paterson possesses pretty well all the virtues any well-arranged society would look for in a Cabinet minister. He is hard-working, utterly conscientious and morally brave. Never afraid to speak his mind, he has quietly effected important changes in Northern Ireland’s political structures. Yet Paterson’s career has suffered from one crucial defect. There have been no press releases trumpeting illusory achievements. He does not leak announcements to a grateful media, publishing them instead, as propriety demands, in Parliament."[8]
  • Simon Heffer has said that Owen is a "very serious, dedicated politician".[9]
  • Tim Montgomerie wrote in July 2011 that Owen is "brave, honest and incredibly hardworking. Whether it was his networking across Europe ten years ago to build allies for a post-EPP grouping (all for which he was unpaid I should stress), his diligent work to prepare an alternative to the Common Fisheries Policy when he was an agriculture spokesman or his work on roads as a member of the transport team, he's not afraid of putting in the hours. A man of the Right he's also handsome - a not important quality in electoral politics!"[10]
  • Charles Moore in The Spectator wrote that "in a better world, there would be a film about the life of Owen Paterson — his heroic struggles to export British manufacturing when he worked in the family leather firm, his mastery of the foot-and-mouth crisis, his insane courage as a horseman, not to mention his longstanding commitment to Northern Ireland. Owen would be played by Pierce Brosnan, or possibly the late Trevor Howard."[11]

Opposition Whip

Owen served as a whip under William Hague from 2000-01[citation needed]

Parliamentary Private Secretary

Owen was Iain Duncan Smith's Parliamentary Private Secretary when he was Leaders of the Conservative Party from 2001-03[citation needed]

Shadow Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Minister

Owen was a Shadow agriculture, Fisheries and Food Minister from 2003-05. As agriculture spokesman Owen became an expert on bovine TB and campaigned for the dairy industry. He visited Michigan, Maryland and Washington to discuss Bovine TB Policy, writing extensively on the issue facing the UK.[12]

He travelled all over the North Atlantic to produce a landmark Green Paper on Fisheries.[13] Owen joined the crew of the Kiroan, one of the few remaining trawlers out of Fleetwood, Lancashire, to view the fishing practices which have been created by the EU's Common Fisheries Policy.[14] He wrote the Green Paper "Consultation on a National Policy on Fisheries Management in U.K.Waters" [15] Which was used by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's Fish Fight Campaign.[citation needed]

Shadow Minister for Transport

Owen previously served as Shadow Minister for Transport from 2005-07. Whilst he was Shadow Minister for Roads, Owen he researched best practice and the latest ideas from Europe and North America.[13]

Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland

He was appointed Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland on 2 July 2007.

While he was Shadow Secretary one of Owen's main achievements was to come to an agreement with the Ulster Unionist Party to re-establish the traditional links which the two parties used to have (broken in 1972).[16] This included running joint Conservative/UUP candidates for the 2009 European and 2010 general elections. Owen believed that it was vital part of the Northern Ireland Peace Process to “normalise” Northern Ireland politics by giving the electoral in Ulster a chance to vote for national parties.[17]

News of this alliance was praised by several Conservatives, including Iain Dale and ConservativeHome.[18]

Jonathan Isaby of ConservativeHome wrote “it must not be underestimated how much credit is due to Owen Paterson, the shadow Northern Ireland secretary, for bringing this deal about. It was over a year ago that he quietly began putting feelers out to like-minded individuals in the UUP about seriously bringing the parties closer together again. He then met UUP leader Sir Reg Empey at the beginning of this year, after which a secret working group was established to discuss the matter further. Amazingly, this close-knit group managed to keep their negotiations secret and out of the media until deciding to float their ideas in public in July. Throughout the process Owen has been assiduously visiting Northern Ireland every week, often spending two days a week there during recesses. His commitment to what is often regarded as a minor shadow cabinet post has been total.”[19]

Secretary of State for Northern Ireland

Owen Paterson was appointed as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland in The Coalition Government on 12 May 2010.[20] He was created a Privy Councillor on 13 May 2010.[21]

Since the general election[13] Owen has:

  • Overseen the publication and delivery of the Saville Report on the events of Bloody Sunday, the Inquiries into the murders of Rosemary Nelson, Billy Wright and is overseeing the current investigation into the murder of Robert Hamill.
  • Secured a financial settlement for savers in the Presbyterian Mutual Society. His intervention has ensured that smaller savers who had invested less than £20,000 received all their money back. Those with more will receive 85%, with the other 15% dependent on the sale of PMS property and assets.[22] He successfully got the government to provided £25m and a loan of £175m. This was in keeping with one of the Conservatives Northern Ireland manifesto pledges.[23]
  • Received an extra £200 million of funding for security in Northern Ireland to counter the rise of dissident republican terrorism.
  • Worked with the Treasury to deliver his promise of a consultation on the devolution of the power to reduce the rate of Corporation Tax[24] to Stormont. The Financial Times called it his "big idea".[25] Owen has stated that "Rebalancing and rebuilding the economy is critical to the future prosperity of Northern Ireland and it is one of the Government’s key priorities for Northern Ireland."[26] The Tap wrote that "It is no surprise...to find Owen at the forefront of an initiative to awake Northern Ireland from its heavily subsidised slumbers, and give it a kick, by making it into a fast paced enterprise zone, with the best corporation tax rates available in Britain. EU rules would stop this, as the subsidy to NI would need reducing by the same amount of any taxes sacrificed. But as NI has no or very few large corporations located there, the potential sacrifice of subsidy is much smaller than the potential gains to be had by attracting international investors into the province. It is rare indeed to find a government Minister offering tax breaks to business in 2010, anywhere in the world. Bravo, Owen Paterson. This is sheer bloody intelligent."[27]
  • Been prominent in driving down costs at his Ministry, the Northern Ireland Office. He has scraped the use of a hired private jet which had cost the taxpayer up to £9,000 one way, instead choosing to fly on commercial public airlines when visiting Northern Ireland.[28] He has also been cutting the NIO budget by around 25%.[29]
  • As part of his policy to "normalise" Northern Ireland politics, tried to engage with Sinn Fein to end their policy of absenteeism at Westminster.[30]
  • Been outspoken on the issue of integrated education in Northern Ireland. Currently 95% of Northern Ireland pupils attend a segregated school He has said segregated education was not working. He stated in October 2010 that “there's a school in Belfast with no pupils and there's a school in Belfast with more staff than pupils. That's just a criminal waste of public money. We cannot go on bearing the cost of segregation and I don't see why the British taxpayer should continue to subsidise segregation."[31] This is all part of his “normalisation” idea.

Personal life

Paterson married the Hon. Rose Ridley in 1980. She is the daughter of Matthew Ridley, 4th Viscount Ridley, niece of the late Nicholas Ridley, Baron Ridley of Liddesdale and sister of Matt Ridley. They have two sons and a daughter. Paterson speaks fluent French and German.

Paterson is a keen horse rider and racer. He has ridden across Turkmenistan and most recently Mongolia.[32]

In 2008 the Daily Record readership voted Owen one of the top ten sexiest politicians in the world.[33]

Charity work

Paterson has devoted much time to fundraising for various charities.[34]

In 2011, Paterson and his wife Rose took part in the Mongolian Derby which is the world’s longest horse race. It is a race across 1,000 kilometers of the Mongolian Steppe in 10 days to raise money for charity.[35] They were the oldest competitors.[32] They raised about £50,000[36] for the Royal Irish Regiment Benevolent Fund, the Midlands Centre for Spinal Injuries and Mercy Corps Mongolia.[37]


  • Mr Owen Paterson (1956–97)
  • Mr Owen Paterson MP (1997–2010)
  • Rt Hon Owen Paterson MP (2010– )


  1. ^ http://www2.northampton.ac.uk/portal/page?_pageid=434,2721693&_dad=portal&_schema=PORTAL[dead link]
  2. ^ http://www.euroleather.com/cotance.html[dead link]
  3. ^ www.parsonsandsons.co.uk[dead link]
  4. ^ "Rt Hon Owen Paterson". http://www.parliament.uk/biographies/owen-paterson/25405. Retrieved 16 September 2011. 
  5. ^ "BBC - Shropshire's MPs hold onto their seats". BBC News. 7 May 2010. http://news.bbc.co.uk/local/shropshire/hi/people_and_places/newsid_8668000/8668023.stm. Retrieved 16 September 2011. 
  6. ^ Iain Dale (4 April 2008). "Iain Dale's Diary: Shadow Cabinet Media Tarts: March". http://iaindale.blogspot.com/2008/04/shadow-cabinet-media-tarts-march.html. Retrieved 16 September 2011. 
  7. ^ "Politicians clash in wristband row". Shropshire Star. 9 October 2010. http://www.shropshirestar.com/news/2010/10/09/politicians-clash-in-wristband-row/. Retrieved 16 September 2011. 
  8. ^ http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/peteroborne/100099006/in-the-post-murdoch-age-politics-can-develop-genuine-substance/
  9. ^ http://www.totalpolitics.com/articles/5803/part_2/in-conversation-with-simon-heffer.thtml
  10. ^ http://conservativehome.blogs.com/thetorydiary/2011/07/other-than-owen-paterson-which-tory-politician-do-you-think-is-under-rated.html
  11. ^ http://www.spectator.co.uk/politics/all/6157768/the-spectators-notes.thtml
  12. ^ Owen Paterson (6 December 2005). "Owen Paterson MP visits the USA to discuss Bovine TB Policy". Farmers weekly. http://www.fwi.co.uk/Articles/2005/12/06/91232/Owen-Paterson-MP-visits-the-USA-to-discuss-Bovine-TB.htm. Retrieved 16 September 2011. 
  13. ^ a b c "The Conservative Party|People|Members of Parliament|Rt Hon Owen Paterson MP". http://www.conservatives.com/People/Members_of_Parliament/Paterson_Owen.aspx. Retrieved 16 September 2011. 
  14. ^ Charles Clover, Richard North (18 October 2004). "Fishermen call for end to slaughter caused by EU net laws". The Telegraph. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1474412/Fishermen-call-for-end-to-slaughter-caused-by-EU-net-laws.html. Retrieved 16 September 2011. 
  15. ^ Owen Paterson MP (January 2005), Consultation on a National Policy on Fisheries Management in UK Waters, Conservative Party (UK), http://www.conservatives.com/pdf/fishinggreenpaper.pdf, retrieved 16 September 2011 
  16. ^ Andrew Porter (23 July 2008). "David Cameron launches biggest Conservative shake-up for decades". The Daily Telegraph. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/conservative/2450913/David-Cameron-launches-biggest-Conservative-shake-up-for-decades.html. Retrieved 17 September 2011. 
  17. ^ http://roused.app.standingcloud.com/toryradio/2009/02/04/interview-with-shadow-secretary-of-state-for-northern-ireland-owen-paterson-mp/[dead link]
  18. ^ Iain Dale (24 July 2008). "A Landmark Day for Northern Ireland Politics". http://iaindale.blogspot.com/2008/07/landmark-day-for-northern-ireland.html. Retrieved 17 September 2011. 
  19. ^ Jonathan Isaby (21 November 2008). "In praise of Owen Paterson and the Tory/UUP deal". ConservativeHome. http://conservativehome.blogs.com/torydiary/2008/11/in-praise-of-ow.html. Retrieved 17 September 2011. 
  20. ^ "Owen Paterson new NI Secretary of State". 12 May 2010. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/8678520.stm. Retrieved 17 September 2011. 
  21. ^ "Privy Council appointments, 13 May 2010". Privy Council. http://www.privy-council.org.uk/files/other/13th%20May2010%20List.doc. Retrieved 26 July 2010. 
  22. ^ http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-national/northern-ireland/relief-for-savers-in-presbyterian-mutual-society-16031545.html
  23. ^ http://www.nio.gov.uk/paterson-welcomes-pms-payments/media-detail.htm?newsID=17969
  24. ^ http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-12914183
  25. ^ http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/7582c080-2722-11e0-80d7-00144feab49a.html#ixzz1Bx6MgJnY
  26. ^ http://www.nio.gov.uk/secretary-of-state-owen-paterson-mp-welcomes-high-level-of-response-to-corporation-tax-consultation/media-detail.htm?newsID=17950
  27. ^ http://the-tap.blogspot.com/2011/01/owen-paterson-to-launch-fast-growth.html
  28. ^ http://www.shropshirestar.com/news/2011/01/04/125783/
  29. ^ http://www.nio.gov.uk/northern-ireland-grand-committee-spending-review-extracts-from-speech-by-secretary-of-state-owen-paterson-mp/media-detail.htm?newsID=16947
  30. ^ http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1310342/Coalition-wants-Sinn-Fein-MPs-seats-Parliament.html
  31. ^ http://www.u.tv/news/Paterson-sparks-segregation-row/a22bed35-dded-4219-9c89-f6b3428b71d7
  32. ^ a b Cassandra Jardine (5 August 2011). "Owen Paterson on the Mongol Derby". The Telgraph. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/active/8681505/Owen-Paterson-on-the-Mongol-Derby.html. Retrieved 17 September 2011. 
  33. ^ http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/uk-world-news/2009/01/02/barack-obama-voted-world-s-sexiest-politician-86908-21009524/
  34. ^ "Owen and Rose Paterson will raise £50,000 for good causes in world's longest horse race". http://conservativehome.blogs.com/gazette/2011/07/owen-and-rose-paterson-will-raise-50000-for-good-causes-in-worlds-longest-horse-race.html. Retrieved 17 September 2011. 
  35. ^ "MPs Owen Paterson and Dan Byles seek sponsorship for their respective charitable adventures". http://conservativehome.blogs.com/gazette/2011/07/mps-owen-paterson-and-dan-byles-seek-sponsorship-for-their-respective-charitable-adventures.html. Retrieved 17 September 2011. 
  36. ^ "Minister's race plan raises £50,000". 24 July 2011. http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-national/northern-ireland/ministers-race-plan-raises-50000-16027145.html. Retrieved 17 September 2011. 
  37. ^ "Owen Paterson MP joins Mongol Derby challenge". 14 June 2011. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-shropshire-13756586. Retrieved 17 September 2011. 

External links

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
John Biffen
Member of Parliament
for North Shropshire

Political offices
Preceded by
David Lidington
Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
Succeeded by
Shaun Woodward
Preceded by
Shaun Woodward
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
Order of precedence in England and Wales
Preceded by
Justine Greening
as Secretary of State for Transport
as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
Succeeded by
Michael Moore
as Secretary of State for Scotland
Order of precedence in Northern Ireland
Preceded by
Justine Greening
as Secretary of State for Transport
as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
Succeeded by
Michael Moore
as Secretary of State for Scotland

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