Mel’s involvement in politics stems from his upbringing. His parents, due to economic hardship, had to leave school at 15 and 14 and this shaped his views on the importance of a good education and the role of government in facilitating it. Mel was awarded a free place at Portsmouth Grammar School and won a place at Oxford University – initially to study Chemistry but changing to Politics, Philosophy and Economics. Whilst at University he was a keen debater (having been elected, along with William Hague, as President of the Oxford Union). Mel believes strongly in the power of education to promote social mobility and improve the life-chances of young people.
Mel set up his own business in 1987 specialising in trade exhibitions, conferences and publishing. He expanded this venture into the United States working there before selling the US company. Mel believes that it is valuable for politicians to have had career experience outside of politics before entering Parliament – he became an MP at 48 – and his background in entrepreneurship has made him a valuable contributor in Westminster on business issues.
Mel has a strong interest in our history and as a hobby is a qualified tour guide entitled to guide a number of national sites including The British Museum, Westminster Abbey, the Tower of London, Tate Britain, Windsor Castle and Stonehenge. Over several years he has given dozens of history talks in aid of local charities and organisations. Mel’s constituency home is in Ashburton. He is married to Michelle and is the proud father of three daughters.
Election as MP for Central Devon
Mel was elected as the first MP for Central Devon in 2010. The seat was predicted to be a marginal with a Conservative majority of 1,500. Due to years of hard work as a candidate Mel won more than 50% of the vote and was returned with a majority of over 9,000. He was re-elected in 2015 with a majority of over 21,000. In 2017 Mel was re-elected with 31,278 votes, which was 54.1% of the total votes cast.
Mel was promoted in February 2012 to become PPS to Skills Minister, John Hayes MP. PPSs shadow ministers helping with their departmental duties, contributing to policy discussions, acting as the Minister’s point of contact in the Commons and supporting them in debate and committee. In the September 2012 reshuffle, John Hayes became Minister of State at the Department of Energy and Climate Change and Mel was retained as his PPS. This provided Mel with the opportunity to work closely on one of the Government’s most important pieces of legislation – the Energy Bill. In March 2013, John Hayes was promoted to become Minister of State in the Cabinet Office with a key role in the co-ordination of policy across government departments. John was also appointed by the Prime Minister to serve as his Senior Parliamentary Advisor. This gave Mel vital experience right at the heart of Government with significant time spent in Number 10.
In the July 2014 reshuffle The Prime Minister promoted Mel to the Government as a Minister in the Government Whips Office and subsequently to the position of Government pairing whip with responsibility for the management of Government business in the Commons chamber.
In June 2017 The Prime Minister promoted Mel to the Treasury holding the Ministerial positions of Financial Secretary to the Treasury and Paymaster General. Mel was appointed Leader of the House of Commons and Lord President of the Council on 23 May 2019. He returned to the backbenches in July after Boris Johnson became Prime Minister. In October 2019 he was elected by MPs as Chair of the influential Treasury Select Committee, receiving nominations from across the House, including from Labour and the SNP.
In December 2019, Mel was re-elected as our MP with a record number of votes and vote share.
Mel has his own website www.melstridemp.com which covers his work locally in Central Devon and in Westminster.