Owen Paterson is Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
He was born in Whitchurch, Shropshire. He read History at Cambridge University, before joining his family leather business, becoming Managing Director in 1994. He speaks French and German. In twenty years in business he travelled all over the world, becoming President of COTANCE, the European Tanners’ Confederation.
It was this experience which drives his political beliefs. Owen is a passionate supporter of localism, free enterprise and less interference in people’s lives. He believes that taxation and bureaucracy should be minimised to give people the best chance to exercise their talents. He is a strong defender of the United Kingdom.
During the past 13 years, he has fought on behalf of his constituents for better health provision, local Primary Schools, improved transport services, Post Offices, local Magistrates Courts and against regional police forces.
As Agriculture spokesman he became an expert on bovine TB and campaigned for the dairy industry. He travelled all over the North Atlantic to produce a landmark Green Paper on Fisheries. As Shadow Minister for Roads, he researched best practice and the latest ideas from Europe and North America.
In July 2007 he was appointed Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and he tried to visit Northern Ireland every week, spending days with MPs and MLAs from every party. He has visited schools, businesses and community projects; and he has immersed himself in Irish history and the local economy.
In May 2010 Owen was appointed Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and was made a privy councillor. During the September 2012 reshuffle, he became the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.