Sir Edward Leigh has served as the Conservative Member of Parliament for the constituency of Gainsborough in Lincolnshire between 1983 and 2019.
A former minister, from 2001 to 2010 he was Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee — a role he relinquished after serving the maximum term. In addition to being Chairman of the Cornerstone Group of MPs who meet in his office every week, he is Chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Groups on France, Italy, and the Holy See. Sir Edward is President of the Catholic Union of Great Britain.
Born in London in 1950, Edward was educated at St Philip’s School, London, the Oratory School, Berkshire, and the Lycée Français in London. He studied history at Durham University, where he was President of the Durham Union Society. Sir Edward is the younger son of Sir Neville Leigh KCVO, former clerk to the Privy Council. He is married, with three daughters and three sons.
Sir Edward was a member of Richmond Borough Council before being elected to the Greater London Council in 1974, serving until 1981. He worked in the private office of Mrs Thatcher in 1976-77 as private secretary in charge of her correspondence as Leader of the Opposition.
In the October 1974 General Election, Sir Edward fought Teesside Middlesborough for the Conservative party and was elected Member of Parliament for Gainsborough & Horncastle in July 1983.
He served as Joint Secretary of the Conservative Parliamentary Defence Committee and the Parliamentary Agricultural Committee from 1983 to 1985. Sir Edward was Chairman of the National Council for Civil Defence and was Director of the Coalition for Peace Through Security until early 1985.
From 1990 until 1993, Sir Edward was a Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (a junior minister) in the Department of Trade & Industry. Prior to that he was a Parliamentary Private Secretary in the Home Office.
In May 1997, he was elected Member of Parliament for the redefined seat of Gainsborough with a majority of 6,826. After hovering around 8,000 in the 2001 and 2005 elections, his majority rose to 10,559 in 2010 and again to 15,449 in 2015.
Sir Edward is a former member of the Social Security Select Committee. Until 2015, he was Chairman of the Conservative Backbench Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence, and International Relations. He has served as an Independent Financial Advisor to the Treasury and serves on the Treasury’s Financial Reporting & Advisory Board.
Since 2011, he has been Chairman of the Public Accounts Commission, the body which audits the National Audit Office.
Sir Edward is a qualified barrister and a member of the Inner Temple, and practised in arbitration and criminal law for Goldsmiths Chambers. He is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators.
He was knighted by the Queen in 2013, awarded the Legion d’honneur (Officier) by the French Republic in 2015 and in 2017 was awarded the Stella d'Italia (Commendatore), conferred by the President of the Republic of Italy. At the end of 2018 HM the Queen was pleased to approve Sir Edward Leigh MP be sworn of Her Majesty’s most Honourable Privy Council.