Charlie Elphicke

Charlie Elphicke
Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
In office
13 May 2015  16 July 2015
Prime Minister David Cameron
Member of Parliament
for Dover
Assumed office
6 May 2010
Preceded by Gwyn Prosser
Majority 6,294 (12.5%)
Personal details
Born (1971-03-14) 14 March 1971[1]
Huntingdon, Huntingdonshire, England
Nationality British
Political party Conservative
Spouse(s) Natalie Ross
Children Two
Profession Solicitor

Charles Brett Anthony Elphicke[2] (born 14 March 1971) is a British Conservative Party politician. He has been the Member of Parliament for Dover since the 2010 general election and a Government whip since May 2015.

Elphicke campaigned for the Port of Dover to become community-owned and for the construction of a hospital in Dover. He has been a leading campaigner for fathers' rights, leading to government adopting his proposal to give children a right to know both of their parents. He became a Government whip, a Lord Commissioner or Lord of the Treasury following the 2015 general election.[3] However, he stood down when Theresa May replaced David Cameron as Prime Minister.

Before entering Parliament, Elphicke was a solicitor specialising in tax and provided advice to shadow chancellors.[4]


Born in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire,[5] Elphicke was educated at Felsted School in Essex, Cambridge Centre for Sixth-form Studies (CCSS) and at the University of Nottingham.


Prior to entering parliament, Elphicke was a partner at trans-Atlantic law firm Hunton & Williams. He also had experience working in the pharmaceutical research industry and running a small business.

In 2007 he wrote a report for the centre-right think tank the Centre for Policy Studies showing that whilst income growth for an average household rose by 4.7% from 1997 to 2001, it only rose by 0.35% in 2006, a slowdown which Elphicke attributed to increased National insurance contributions in 2003.[6] The report also showed that inequality in income had "barely changed" since 1996–1997, though a Treasury spokesman pointed out that the UK continued "to top global investment league tables".[6]


Elphicke was elected to London Borough Council of Lambeth in 1994, representing Gipsy Hill. His election saw the defeat of the Labour leader of Lambeth Council, Stephen Whaley.[7]

He stood down in 1998 and became chairman of Dulwich & West Norwood Conservative Association. He served in that position until he was selected as the Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for St Albans, in Hertfordshire in 1999. At the 2001 general election, Labour held the seat with a swing from the Conservatives of 0.7% compared to a swing of 1.7% to the Conservatives nationally, the Liberal vote falling by 3.1%.[8] He was deputy chairman of the Cities of London and Westminster Conservative Association from 2002 to 2006.

He was selected as the Conservative candidate for Dover in June 2007.[9] Dover was the safest of Labour's seven seats in Kent.[10] Elphicke won with a 10.4% swing, the 31st largest from Labour to Conservative and the 7th highest figure in the South East excluding the Speaker.[11]


Elphicke made his maiden speech in a debate on European affairs on 3 June 2010[12] In November, he was named the overall winner at the British Computer Society's MP Web Awards[13] which "recognise MPs who have embraced web technologies, and are using them to engage effectively with their constituents."[14] He was a finalist both in the usability and engagement categories.[14]

On 15 October 2012, Downing Street announced Elphicke's appointment as Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) to the Minister for Europe David Lidington[15] Reacting to the news of Elphicke's appointment, his constituency newspaper, the Dover Express, wrote that "Parliamentary Private Secretary roles are unpaid, but often seen as a starting point for many MPs who are looking to become ministers themselves."[16] He became a PPS to Iain Duncan Smith, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions in 2014.[1]

Fathers' rights

Elphicke is a prominent campaigner for fathers' rights "leading a campaign by Families Need Fathers" and introducing a private members bill "to change family law and make it a legal right for children to know both of their parents".[17] In the Queen's Speech of 10 May 2012,[18] the Government announced that they intended to "legislate this area"[19] and on 13 June 2012, Children's Minister Tim Loughton announced that the law would be changed to guarantee children's access to both parents.[20]
Elphicke was shortlisted for the Grassroot Diplomat Initiative Award in 2015 for his work on the Families Need Fathers campaign, and he remains in the directory of the Grassroot Diplomat Who's Who publication.[21]

Public Administration Select Committee

Elphicke served as one of 11 members of the Public Administration Select Committee (PASC) from his election until his appointment as a Parliamentary Private Secretary in 2012. The Committee, which scrutinises the civil service, called for ministers to accelerate civil service reform.[22] In one investigation, Elphicke looked at Ordnance Survey expenses for 2007–2010 totalling £8.7m. Items include a stay at a luxury hotel which cost over £3000 and a staff reward scheme which cost £32,100. OS said that the expenses involved sales staff.[23]
In October 2012 PASC reviewed the Charities Act 2006, which no longer assumed that advancement of religion was beneficial per se, but had to serve a public interest.[24] Following a tribunal ruling on public interest relating to private schools, the Charity Commission had decided that unlike the druids, the Plymouth Brethren could not show it provided public worship for all as it was "exclusive". Secondly they deemed that its doctrine of separation, which limits time members spend with outsiders, may harm rather than benefit family life; though they accepted this was based on possibly outdated criticisms, not evidence.[25] They requested a test case to clarify public benefit. The Commission provided witness protection for former members. Elphicke said the commission was "committed to the suppression of religion".[26]

1922 Committee and the "301 group"

In May 2012 Elphicke, stood for the post of Secretary of the 1922 Committee.[27] Elphicke was regarded as a "leading light" of the modernising "301 group" of Conservative MPs, named after the number of MPs required to win a majority at the 2015 General Election.[28] His defeat was seen as a blow to David Cameron though 11 out of the other 12 posts went to new MPs and the election removed most of the "historic trouble makers."[29][30]

Multinational Company Tax Avoidance Campaign

Elphicke investigated tax avoidance by American multinational companies and showed (October 2012) that some multinational companies, making billions of pounds of profit in the UK were paying an effective UK tax rate of only 3 per cent.[31] He followed this by calling on George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer to force the companies which included Google, Coca-Cola and Apple Inc[32] to have to state the effective rate of tax they paid on their UK revenues and suggested that Government contracts could be withheld from multinationals who do not pay their fair share of UK Tax.[33]

During the second reading of the Growth and Infrastructure Bill[34] in the House of Commons on 5 November, Elphicke reiterated the rates of tax paid to HMRC by some US multinationals. Many of the leading companies (including Starbucks,[35] Google and have been called to give evidence over this issue, most recently raised by Elphicke, in front of the Public Accounts Select Committee in November 2012. At the same time as Elphicke pushed this issue up the domestic UK news agenda, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne raised it at the G20 meeting in Mexico City.[35] In concert with his German opposite number, Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble Osborne called for action to combat tax avoidance[36] and to force corporations to pay their fair share of tax or face serious consequences.[37][38]

In a debate on Corporate Tax Avoidance on 7 January 2013,[39] MPs highlighted companies who accepted UK Government contracts but paid little or no tax. Elphicke singled out technology companies Oracle, Xerox, Dell, CSC and Symantec who – with a combined turnover of £7 billion – earned almost £0.5 billion from Government contracts and yet paid no corporation tax whatsoever. Overall he said 10 technology companies receiving over £1.8 billion from the taxpayer paid £78 million in taxes on UK earnings of just over £17.5 billion of turnover. This was "unacceptable, unethical and irresponsible."[40]

On 24 May 2013 Elphicke wrote an article for The Daily Telegraph concluding: “Amazon, Google and Starbucks are just the very small tip of a very, very large iceberg. The tax avoidance culture is deeply ingrained. There needs to be radical action to restore tax fairness and a level competitive playing field for British business. Axing tax breaks, simplification, a 10p business tax rate and international tax reform can and would make our tax system fairer and more competitive.”[41]

Criticisms of charities


In June 2014 Elphicke was one of a number of Conservative MPs who criticised Oxfam's twitter and poster campaign against the government's austerity program. Oxfam had called for all parties to reduce food poverty in the UK and its posters highlighted a "perfect storm" which included references to zero-hour contract, unemployment and benefit cuts. Elphicke described the campaign as a shamefully political and an abuse of taxpayers' money. He also criticised directors pay.[42] Debating the issue in The Observer, Helen Lewis suggested the MPs' objectives were to stop charities criticising the government,[43] whilst The Times said that guidelines had changed in the last decade and some objectives previously deemed political were now accepted as charitable.[44] The Charity Commission ruled that although Oxfam's motives were not intentionally political, it could have done more to show its tweets related to its own report on food poverty.[45]

Views on charity chief executives' pay

In February 2015, following a report by Third Sector magazine that 32 charity bosses received over £200k in 2014, Elphicke expressed concern that trust in charities would be undermined and that people would not donate if they thought pay was excessive.[46]

Post referendum

Warning on border security

In August 2016, ahead of intergovernmental discussions with the French, possibly involving the Le Touquet Agreement Elphicke advised ministers to remember that France had genuine concerns about terrorism and both countries should concentrate on getting a long term solution to problems rather than "threatening tit for tat."[47]

Constituency campaigns

Elphicke has welcomed the announcement of the building of a new community hospital at Dover as "it would save long journeys to hospitals in other parts of Kent."[48] Work, planned to start in 2009 was delayed because of flood risks but the go ahead was given in 2012[48] and the £24m hospital was opened in June 2015.[49] Elphicke described it as "a defining moment for the community."[49] Elphicke campaigned against the privatisation of the Port of Dover prior to and since his election; he created an alternative proposal, which was put to the residents of Dover in a local referendum in March 2011 who voted by an overwhelming majority in favour of a "people's port" rather than privatisation – 5,244 votes in favour compared to 113 against.[50] He became one of the 8 directors of the People's Port Community Trust who led the campaign to buy the port of Dover for the community.[4]

The People's Port campaign has also interested the Labour Party head of Policy, Dr Jon Cruddas, MP, who appears to see it as a mutual ownership model for national assets that could be adopted by the Labour Party.[51] For the Conservatives, Elphicke's proposal to is seen as a key test of the David Cameron's Big Society policy.[52] Other Conservatives see Elphicke's proposal as a method of populist privatisation. The campaign also has the enthusiastic support of the Blue Labour founder, Lord Glasman, who sees it as "a story about Labour helping workers and exports ... It's everything Blue Labour stands for."[53]

On 9 April 2014, Shipping and Ports Minister Stephen Hammond MP, visited Dover and paid tribute to Elphicke and the Harbour Board chair, George Jenkins, for progress made "in bridging the divide between port and town." He set out the board structure and steps needed to ensure an enduring solution in the key areas of community involvement, commercial development and regeneration. The trust would be given 'up to date' powers to raise funds for investment.[54] Elphicke said the People's Port Trust priorities were "partnership with the board, a voice for the community in the boardroom, and improvements for Dover with a community fund from the port."[55][56][57]

2016 traffic jams on roads approaching Dover

The instigation of additional border security following the 2016 Nice attack caused much publicised seven mile queues taking up to fourteen hours to process on the A2 and A20. Elphicke criticised the Department for Transport and the Home Office who were advised of but unprepared for delays.[58]

In August 2016, Elphicke called for light naval forces including the Royal Marines to prevent cross channel people trafficking. Elphicke compared the requirements with those of the World War I Dover Patrol which used older ships to detect and deter enemy submarines from using the Channel.[59]


Elphicke lives in St Margaret's at Cliffe, Kent, with his wife Natalie, two children and Star, the 2012 Westminster Dog of the Year.[60]


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  2. The London Gazette: no. 59418. p. 8742. 13 May 2010.
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  4. 1 2 "Dover People's port:Who we are". Retrieved 4 November 2013.
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  20. "Warring parents 'play the system' to deny access, minister says". BBC News. 13 June 2012.
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  41. Charlie Elphicke (24 May 2013). "Don't yell at Google. Just make taxes lower, simpler and fit for the internet age". Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 9 December 2014.
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  60. "Westminster Dog of the Year: Charlie Elphicke and Star". BBC News. 25 October 2012.
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Gwyn Prosser
Member of Parliament for Dover

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