Peter Bottomley


Peter Bottomley : biography

30 July 1944 –

In 1982, he became the Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) to the Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Cranley Onslow in 1982. Peter Bottomley’s seat of Woolwich West had minor boundary changes and a name change. Bottomley fought the new seat of Eltham which he won by over 7,500 votes. Following the 1983 General Election, Peter Bottomley became the PPS to the Secretary of State at the Department of Health and Social Security Norman Fowler.

Member of the Thatcher Government

After nine years on the backbenches, Bottomley became a member of Margaret Thatcher’s government when he was appointed as the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the then-Department for Employment in 1984, moving sideways at the Department of Transport in 1986 to become the Minister of Roads and Traffic. In 1989 he moved sideways again to the Northern Ireland Office. He was dropped by Margaret Thatcher in 1990, when he briefly became PPS to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Peter Brooke. He has been a captain of the Parliamentary football team, no longer wins the parliamentary swimming competition and organises the annual dinghy sailing against the House of Lords, claiming never to have done worse than second. He was captain of the Commons eight, winning the first Thames rowing race in gigs against the Lords in 2007, as opposed to Olympic/fine boats as seen in The Boat Race.

Return to the backbenches

Since 1990 he has been a backbencher, described as a maverick. Bottomley decided not to re-contest Eltham after major boundary change at the 1997 General Election, but sought nomination elsewhere. Following the retirement of the veteran Conservative MP Terence Higgins, Bottomley contested the newly formed constituency Worthing West, won with a majority of over 9,000.

Bottomley is in the most parliamentary groups of all MPs. He was Chairman of the All-Party United Nations Group, is co-Chairman of PACTS the Parliamentary Advisory Council on Transport Safety and vice-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Flag Group Through the Human Rights and CAFOD Groups he became and remained involved with the life, work and legacy of Oscar Romero since 1978. Through the Mental Health Groups he helped Charles Walker MP gain the first major debate on conditions lumped as mental illness. When challenged by a Panorama journalist, he explained that when he had the time he read most stories in a paper, not being limited say only to horse racing or international issues. Later he referred a Sunday Times enquirer to the BBC PM interview with Eddie Mair. Neither journalist chose to accept the invitation to cover the good achied by say the PACTS Parliamentary Advisory Group on Transprot Safety (road deaths down from 5,600 in 1986 to under 2,000) now or to the recent success of the Vascular group which has been associated with bringing in screening for AAA in older men.

Bottomley has been a supporter of the "frozen" British pensioners living overseas, living in mainly Commonwealth countries (47 out of 54) who have their British state pension frozen at the rate at which it is first paid or as at the date of migration. British pensioners living in 7 Commonwealth countries and those living in a number of non-Commonwealth countries have their British state pensions uprated each year, just as if they were living in the UK.

Early life

Bottomley was born in Newport, Shropshire, the son of Sir James Bottomley, retired from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and of the late Barbara, née Vardon, a social worker. After seven school changes before the age of eleven, he was educated at a junior high school in Washington, D.C. and then Westminster School before reading economics at Trinity College, Cambridge, following his father, grandfather, father-in-law and father-in-law’s father to the College. His supervisor was James Mirrlees, who later gained the Nobel prize for Economics. After university, he became a lorry driver and joined the Transport and General Workers Union before moving on to industrial sales and industrial relations. In the early 1970s he co-founded in South Lambeth the Neighbourhood Council, resulting in the creation of football pitches and other facilities at Larkhall Park. His last job before entering Parliament was putting lights outside theatres and cinemas in London’s West End.