'Pro-Europe, anti-capital punishment, he voted for a second reading of David Alton's bill against abortion in 1988 and, more recently, in favour of lowering the homosexual age of consent'
If Tim Boswell had not been preparing for his own party conference, he would have fitted in comfortably with those protesting outside Labour's last week. The son of a farmer and himself involved in a family farm near Banbury, the Conservative spokesman on further and higher education has a passion for the countryside and shooting.
Born into a Conservative family, he read classics at New College, Oxford, followed by a diploma in agricultural economics.
After university, he went into the Conservative research department, becoming head of economics between 1970 and 1974, when he left to farm full time. During this period, he was active in the Perry Foundation for Agricultural Research, becoming president between 1984 and 1990.
He won the safe seat of Daventry in 1987 and five years later became a government whip and, later, parliamentary under-secretary of state for education. There, he appeared interested in his brief, perhaps inspired by his wife, Helen, who works in adult literacy.
While suggesting "FE has been rather under-celebrated", he has also championed traditional qualifications, saying: "You know where you are with A levels."
From education, he moved to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, where he got into trouble for refusing to name brands of baby milk implicated in a health scare.
Once in opposition, he became a spokesman on treasury matters and trade and industry before his present post.
Pro-Europe, anti-capital punishment, he voted for a second reading of David Alton's bill against abortion in 1988 and, more recently, in favour of lowering the homosexual age of consent.
Responding recently to news that civil servants were to be taught emotional intelligence, he said politicians also needed to improve their communication abilities, through body language, style and empathy. People is edited by Harriet Swain and researched by Lynne Williams.
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