For the 19th-century New York politician, see Stephen H. Hammond.

Stephen William Hammond (born 4 February 1962) is a British Conservative Party politician and former UK Government Minister.

Hammond was first elected as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Wimbledon at the 2005 general election. On 4 September 2012, he was appointed Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport, with responsibility for buses, rail and shipping.[12] He lost his ministerial post in the reshuffle on 15 July 2014 and was succeeeded by Claire Perry.[13]

Early life and business career

Hammond was born in Southampton, and educated at the city's King Edward VI School before reading Economics at Queen Mary University of London. After graduating with a BSc degree, he began a career in finance at a leading fund management house and subsequently worked for major investment banks. Hammond was appointed a Director of the Equities division of Dresdner Kleinwort Benson in 1994 and four years later joined Commerzbank Securities. In 2000 he was promoted to Director, Pan European Research, with responsibility for seventy professionals based in London and across Europe.

Political career

Hammond first stood for Parliament for North Warwickshire at the 1997 general election, being comfortably defeated by Labour's Mike O'Brien. Contesting Wimbledon in 2001 general election, he failed to regain what had been a safe seat for the Conservatives before Labour's 1997 landslide and was defeated by the Labour incumbent, Roger Casale. He was elected a councillor for the Village ward in the London Borough of Merton election in 2002 and subsequently became Deputy Leader of the Conservative Group on Merton Council.[14]

Hammond was the successful parliamentary candidate for Wimbledon at the 2005 general election, gaining a 7.2% swing to the Conservatives. In December 2005, David Cameron, then the new Conservative Leader, appointed him as Shadow Minister for Transport on the Opposition front bench.

On 6 May 2010, Hammond was reelected as MP for Wimbledon.[15] Following that election, Hammond became Parliamentary Private Secretary to Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. On 4 September 2012, he was appointed Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport.[12] He was removed from that post following a Cabinet reshuffle in July 2014.[16]

Hammond announced in early 2016 that he would wait until Cameron's renegotiations before endorsing either a Remain vote or a Leave vote in the 2016 referendum on the United Kingdom's membership of the European Union.[17] On 14 June 2016, he endorsed a vote to remain in the European Union.[18]

Summerborn campaign

In Parliament, Hammond has been an advocate of giving summerborn and premature children the right to start school a year later, to give them extra time for development. In October 2015 he held an adjournment debate on this issue, arguing that "summer-born children can suffer from long-term development issues and a lag in educational standards". and highlighting the inconsistent treatment of these children by Councils. In response, Nick Gibb MP, the Minister of State for Schools, set out plans in a letter to all schools to change the school admissions code to allow summer-born children to start reception class at the age of 5.[19]

In October 2016, Hammond held another adjournment debate on this topic, urging the Government to take action more quickly and to provide a timetable for the changes.[11]

Controversies

Hammond was the subject of a parliamentary investigation after it was revealed that he had failed to disclose investments in Harwood Film partnership, a legal investment scheme which permitted the deferral of tax payments, in the Register of Members' Interests.[11][22] He subsequently apologised for the "oversight" in not registering the financial interest but was cleared of any wrongdoing.[11]

Hammond had previously criticised Ken Livingstone in the House of Commons for setting up companies to reduce his tax bill.[22] The Daily Telegraph subsequently alleged that Hammond had sought to avoid tax by registering the ownership of his Portuguese villa through an offshore-registered company, which his lawyers described as a "normal" arrangement that "did not result in tax benefits for him or his wife".[11]

In December 2014, Hammond controversially assumed a second job as an adviser to Inmarsat; however, he was cleared to do so by the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments.[11][11] He had been criticised earlier that year for having been the fourth most frequent user of ministerial chauffeur-driven "top up" cars, at 138 uses per year, during his time in office as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport.[11]

The article about Hammond on Wikipedia was one of a number edited in May 2015 by computers owned by Parliament in what The Daily Telegraph described as "a deliberate attempt to hide embarrassing information from the electorate." The deleted information concerned his frequent use of chauffeur-driven cars while in government.[29]

Personal life

Hammond has been married to Sally Hammond since 1991. The couple live in Wimbledon Park with two pets and they have one daughter.[11] His wife worked as his secretary as recently as June 2015.[31]

Hammond, a keen sportsman, used to play hockey for a National League team and for his county. He now plays veterans hockey for Wimbledon.