Alok Sharma

Alok Sharma (born 7 September 1967)[1] is a British politician, serving as the Secretary of State for International Development since July 2019. He was elected in 2010 as the Conservative Member of Parliament for Reading West.


Alok Sharma

Secretary of State for International Development
Assumed office
24 July 2019
Prime MinisterBoris Johnson
Preceded byRory Stewart
Minister of State for Employment
In office
9 January 2018  24 July 2019
Prime MinisterTheresa May
Preceded byDamian Hinds
Succeeded byMims Davies
Minister of State for Housing
In office
14 June 2017  9 January 2018
Prime MinisterTheresa May
Preceded byGavin Barwell
Succeeded byDominic Raab
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Asia and the Pacific
In office
17 July 2016  13 June 2017
Prime MinisterTheresa May
Preceded byJames Duddridge
Succeeded byMark Field
Member of Parliament
for Reading West
Assumed office
6 May 2010
Preceded byMartin Salter
Majority4,117 (8.1%)
Personal details
Born (1967-09-07) 7 September 1967
Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India
Political partyConservative
Children2
Alma materUniversity of Salford

Sharma previously served as Housing Minister between 2017 and 2018, and as Employment Minister from 2018 to 2019.[2]

Early life and career

Sharma was born in Agra, India, but moved to Reading with his parents when he was five years old.[3] He was raised in the Reading suburbs of Earley and Whitley Wood and attended Reading Blue Coat School in Sonning[4] and the University of Salford, from where he graduated with a BSc in Applied Physics with Electronics in 1988.[5]

Sharma subsequently qualified as a chartered accountant, training with Deloitte Haskins & Sells in Manchester before moving into corporate finance advisory with Nikko Securities and then Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken, where he held senior roles based out of London, Stockholm and Frankfurt. Sharma was an adviser to clients in the corporate and private equity sector on cross border mergers and acquisitions, listings and restructurings.[6]

Sharma is a governor of a local primary school in Reading. He is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.[4] Previously he served as a chairman of the political think tank Bow Group's economic affairs committee.

Political career

Member of Parliament

Sharma was elected as the MP for Reading West in 2010, winning a majority of 6,004 after the retirement of Martin Salter.

At the 2017 general election, he won his seat with a reduced margin, a majority of 2,876.[7] On being re-elected, Sharma wrote on his website: "Having grown up locally in Reading and being very much a local Reading man, I am delighted to have been re-elected for a constituency in my home town."[8]

Early parliamentary career (2010–2016)

Sharma served as a member of the Science and Technology Select Committee between July 2010 and February 2011[9] and the Treasury Select Committee between September 2014 and March 2015.[10] During Sharma’s time on the Treasury Select Committee, the committee investigated how financial services customers were treated and Sharma was critical of banks for mis-selling products to customers.[11]

Sharma was Conservative Party Vice-Chairman from 2012 to 2015[12] and co-chairman of Conservative Friends of India in 2014.[13]

In September 2011, Sharma was appointed Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) to Mark Hoban, the then Financial Secretary to the Treasury.[14] During his time as a PPS, Sharma sat on a number of public bill committees including two finance bills, the 2013 Banking Reform Bill and the 2011 Pensions Bill.[15] He also served as PPS to Sir Oliver Letwin, the former Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster who had overall responsibility for the Cabinet Office. In 2016, Sharma was appointed as the Prime Minister's "Infrastructure Envoy to India".

Sharma was Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office from July 2016 to June 2017.[16]

Housing Minister

In June 2017, Sharma was appointed Housing Minister replacing Gavin Barwell who lost his seat in 2017 general election.[17]

As the Minister of State for Housing, Sharma was responsible for the Government's response to the Grenfell Tower fire. He attracted media attention when he was visibly moved while making a statement to the House of Commons on 5 July 2017.[18][19]

Employment Minister

In January 2018, he became the Minister of State for Employment.[2]

Secretary of State for International Development

Sharma was appointed Secretary of State for International Development by Boris Johnson following the resignation of Rory Stewart in July 2019. Upon ascending to the role, he said: "I am delighted... We will work across the whole of government to deliver Brexit and make sure UK aid is tackling global challenges that affect us all."[20]

In October, Alok stated he wanted to use the UK leverage over the World Bank to focus the use the nineteenth International Development Association fund on fighting climate change, building sustainable economies and promoting women's rights.[21]

Political positions

Free schools

Sharma supported the opening in his Reading West constituency of one of the first free schools in England. All Saints Junior School opened in September 2011 and received an “Outstanding” rating in its first Ofsted report.[22]

Sharma has also been appointed a patron of the Wren School, a new secondary Free School opening in west Reading in September 2015. Sharma supported the West Reading Education Network in getting the new school approved and is helping the school to find an appropriate permanent site.[23][24]

Heathrow Airport

Sharma has been a vocal supporter of the expansion of Heathrow Airport and has spoken in support of increasing the number of airport runways in the South East of England, claiming that “a lack of hub capacity is costing the UK jobs and investment.” [25][26] This is despite opposition in his own constituency; in 2009 he said: “A third runway at Heathrow would inflict huge damage to the environment and to the quality of life of millions of people. It is time for the Government to abandon its plans for a third runway and, if a Conservative Government is elected, we will certainly stop this environmental disaster.” [27]

Road safety

Following the death of two cyclists in Purley, Sharma has campaigned for longer prison sentences for those convicted of death by dangerous driving.[28] Sharma initiated a Parliamentary debate on the issue[29] and backed a petition, started by the families of victims, which gained more than 55,000 signatures.[30][31]

Rail policy

Sharma has campaigned to reduce the number of first-class carriages on trains operating on the Great Western route between Reading and London. In January 2015, he held a meeting with Rail Minister Claire Perry and First Great Western managing director Mark Hopwood to discuss proposals to increase Standard Class capacity to reduce overcrowding.[32]

Flooding

In February 2014 Sharma criticised Labour leader Ed Miliband during the latter's visit to Purley which had been badly affected by flooding. Sharma claimed that the visit was merely a photo opportunity for Miliband. Miliband responded by saying that he had come "for the people of your constituency".[33][34]

East West Leaders' Forum

Sharma set up the East West Leaders' Forum, a discussion forum between business leaders, to promote dialogue between Europe, India and China. Theresa May, then Home Secretary, gave the keynote speech at the inaugural event which was held in London in September 2014.[35][36]

Brexit

Sharma was opposed to Brexit prior to the 2016 referendum.[37] Sharma's position since changed, with him backing Theresa May's Brexit withdrawal agreement[38] and subsequently Boris Johnson's.[39]

Personal life

Sharma is married and lives in Caversham with his wife and two daughters.[4] His wife is Swedish.[40]

References

  1. "Alok Sharma MP". BBC Democracy Live. BBC. Archived from the original on 3 March 2011. Retrieved 25 July 2010.
  2. Coates, Sam (9 January 2018). "May tries to inject fresh blood into government". The Times. London. Retrieved 9 January 2018. (subscription required)
  3. Stanford, Peter (15 April 2013). "Margaret Thatcher: 'She gave us a chance to climb up the social ladder'". Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 27 June 2018. Retrieved 27 June 2018.
  4. "As Reading West MP prepares to stand down the contest hots up". Newbury Today. 17 April 2010. Archived from the original on 29 September 2011. Retrieved 25 July 2010.
  5. "Who's Who".
  6. "Alok Sharma".
  7. "Reading West parliamentary constituency – Election 2017" via www.bbc.co.uk.
  8. Noor, Poppy (14 June 2017). "A quick look at new housing minister Alok Sharma". The Guardian. Retrieved 31 March 2019.
  9. Westminster, Department of the Official Report (Hansard), House of Commons. "House of Commons Hansard Debates for 14 Feb 2011 (pt 0003)".
  10. "Membership – Treasury Committee".
  11. "'Corrupt' banks sold useless card insurance to 2million customers".
  12. getreading (11 September 2012). "Alok Sharma becomes Tory vice-chairman".
  13. "British MP Alok Sharma named CF India co-chairman".
  14. "Good news for Alok".
  15. "Alok Sharma MP, Reading West – TheyWorkForYou".
  16. "Envoy sees more UK-Thai investment". Bangkok Post. 20 January 2017. Retrieved 31 March 2018.
  17. "New housing minister appointed to replace Barwell".
  18. Murphy, Joe (5 July 2017). "Housing minister Alok Sharma wipes away tears after telling Commons of meeting with Grenfell Tower fire survivors". London Evening Standard. Retrieved 5 July 2017.
  19. "Grenfell fire: Minister visibly moved in Commons". BBC. 5 July 2017. Retrieved 5 July 2017.
  20. "Alok Sharma has been appointed Secretary of State for International Development". GOV.UK. 24 July 2019. Retrieved 4 October 2019.
  21. Elliott, Larry (20 October 2019). "UK urges World Bank to channel more money into tackling climate crisis". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 27 November 2019.
  22. Cassell, Paul (7 August 2013). "Reading's first free school picks up 'outstanding' Ofsted report".
  23. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 6 April 2015. Retrieved 28 January 2015.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  24. Fort, Linda (4 December 2013). "Parents win victory in Elvian School site planning battle".
  25. "Alok Sharma MP: Heathrow helps to drive the nation's economic powerhouse – Conservative Home".
  26. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 15 May 2014. Retrieved 28 January 2015.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  27. Fort, Linda (25 November 2009). "Community unites against Heathrow runway plan".
  28. Adkins, Natasha (8 December 2014). "Fiancées of two cyclists killed by drink-driver continue their campaign for change in sentencing law".
  29. Westminster, Department of the Official Report (Hansard), House of Commons. "House of Commons Hansard Debates for 04 Nov 2014 (pt 0002)".
  30. Adkins, Natasha (5 November 2014). "Purley cyclists' deaths lead to parliamentary debate on sentencing for dangerous driving".
  31. "Archived Petition: Driver receives maximum sentence of 14 years per person that has been killed".
  32. Low, Jonathan (15 January 2015). "Alok Sharma: There's still more to be done on First Great Western trains".
  33. Fort, Hugh (13 February 2015). "Alok Sharma Vs Ed Miliband: the day the Labour leader got an earful in Purley".
  34. "Reading West MP Alok Sharma brands Labour leader Ed Miliband a "Westminster flood tourist" after party supremo visits flood stricken Purley".
  35. "Subscribe to read".
  36. "Home Secretary's speech at the inaugural East West Forum – Speeches – GOV.UK".
  37. 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.
  38. "Alok Sharma Voting Record". theyworkforyou.com.
  39. "Hansard Voting Record". Hansard.
  40. Sharma, Alok (8 July 2016). "Alok Sharma: May is right not to chase headlines on EU nationals". ConservativeHome. Retrieved 31 March 2019.
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Martin Salter
Member of Parliament
for Reading West

2010–present
Incumbent
Political offices
Preceded by
James Duddridge
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Asia and the Pacific
2016–2017
Succeeded by
Mark Field
Preceded by
Gavin Barwell
Minister of State for Housing and Planning
2017–2018
Succeeded by
Dominic Raab
Preceded by
Damian Hinds
Minister of State for Employment
2018–2019
Succeeded by
Justin Tomlinson
Preceded by
Rory Stewart
Secretary of State for International Development
2019–present
Incumbent
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