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, was appointed Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport, with responsibility for buses, rail and shipping. He lost his ministerial post in the reshuffle on 15 July 2014 and was succeeeded by Claire Perry.

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

He 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 Ward of Village, Wimbledon in the London Borough of Merton election in 2002 and subsequently became Deputy Leader of the Conservative Group on Merton Council.

Hammond was the successful parliamentary candidate for Wimbledon at the 2005 general election, gaining a 7.2% swing to the Conservatives. He was soon promoted to the Opposition front bench: in December 2005, the new Conservative leader David Cameron appointed him as Shadow Minister for Transport.

On 6 May 2010, Hammond was returned to Parliament as MP for Wimbledon. With 23,257 votes, he won 49% of all votes cast and increased his majority to 11,408, returning the seat to safe status for his party. Turnout in Wimbledon was 73%, up from 68% in 2005. Following that election, Hammond became PPS 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. He was dropped from that post when David Cameron reshuffled the Cabinet in July 2014.

Tax avoidance allegations

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. He subsequently apologised for the "oversight" in not registering the financial interest but was cleared of any wrongdoing.

Hammond had previously attacked Ken Livingstone in the House of Commons for setting up companies to reduce his tax bill, asking "Can you say whether you would tailor [a proposed 'tycoon tax'] to include individuals who claim they want to raise tax on the rich and yet set up companies so they only pay 20%, such as Ken Livingstone?" The Daily Telegraph subsequently alleged that Hammond had sought to avoid tax by registering the ownership 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".

Personal life

Hammond has been married to Sally since 1991; she has, for many years, worked as a secretary to Members of Parliament based at the House of Commons. The couple live at Wimbledon Park, with their daughter.

Hammond, a keen sportsman, used to play hockey for a National League team and for his county. He now plays veterans hockey for Wimbledon. In January 2014, The Guardian reported that, according to official documents, he was one of the most frequent users of the chauffeur-driven cars which carry ministers or their red boxes across the country.

Editing Wikipedia

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." At this time, the deleted information concerned his frequent use of chauffeur-driven cars while in government.