Alan Duncan

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Alan Duncan bigraphy, stories - British politician

Alan Duncan : biography

31 March 1957 –

Alan James Carter Duncan (born 31 March 1957) is a British Conservative Party politician. He is the Member of Parliament (MP) for Rutland and Melton, and a Minister of State in the Department for International Development.

Duncan began his career in the oil industry with Royal Dutch Shell, and was first elected to the House of Commons in the 1992 general election. After several minor positions in the government of John Major, he played a key role in William Hague’s successful bid for the Conservative leadership in 1997. He received several promotions to the Conservative front bench until he eventually joined the Shadow Cabinet after the 2005 general election and stood for the Conservative leadership in 2005 but withdrew early on because of a lack of support. Eventual winner David Cameron appointed him Shadow Secretary of State for Trade and Industry in December 2005, the title of which was changed to Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform in July 2007, now the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

He is known as one of the most liberal and progressive MPs within the Conservative Party. He is also well known as the first openly gay Conservative Member of Parliament, having publicly come out in 2002.

Personal life

Duncan was the first sitting Conservative MP voluntarily to acknowledge that he is gay; he did this in an interview with The Times on 29 July 2002, although he has said that this came as no surprise to friends. Indeed, in an editorial published on the news of Duncan’s coming out, The Daily Telegraph reported, "The news that Alan Duncan is gay will come as a surprise only to those who have never met him. The bantam Tory frontbencher can hardly be accused of having hidden his homosexuality."

On 3 March 2008, it was announced in the Court & Social page of The Daily Telegraph that Duncan would be entering into a civil partnership with his partner James Dunseath, which would make him the first member of either the Cabinet or the Shadow Cabinet to enter into a civil partnership. The two were joined as civil partners on 24 July 2008.

Duncan has a committed following in the gay community and is active in speaking up for gay rights. He was responsible for formulating the Conservatives’ policy response to the introduction of civil partnership legislation in 2004, which he considered his proudest achievement of the Parliament between 2001 and 2005. In 2007, Pink News named him the 15th-most powerful LGBT person in the UK.

Appointment to Privy Council

On 28 May 2010 he was appointed to the Privy Counsel in the 2010 Dissolusion of Parliament Honours List.http://www.number10.gov.uk/news/peerages-honours-and-appointments/http://privycouncil.independent.gov.uk/privy-council/privy-council-members/privy-counsellors/#d

Political career

Duncan was an active member of the Battersea Conservative Association from 1979 until 1984, when he moved to live in Singapore, from which he returned in 1986. After Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher resigned in November 1990, he offered his home in Westminster as the headquarters of John Major’s leadership campaign.

Member of Parliament

Duncan first stood for Parliament as a Conservative candidate in the 1987 general election, unsuccessfully contesting the safe Labour seat of Barnsley West and Penistone. For the 1992 general election he was selected as the Conservative candidate for Rutland and Melton, a safe Conservative seat, which he won with 59% of the vote. In the Labour landslide of 1997 his share of the vote was cut back to 45.8% but has since increased to 48.1% in 2001, 51.2% in 2005 and 51.02% in 2010.

From 1993 to 1995, Duncan sat on the Social Security Select Committee. His first governmental position was as Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Minister of Health, a position he obtained in December 1993. He resigned from the position within a month after it emerged that he had used the right-to-buy programme to make profits on property deals. It emerged that he had lent his elderly next door neighbour money to buy his home under the right-to-buy legislation. The neighbour bought the 18th century council house at a significant discount and sold it to Duncan just over three years later. Gyles Brandreth describes this event in his diary as ‘…little Alan Duncan has fallen on his sword. He did it swiftly and with good grace.’