Clive Betts

Clive Betts
Official portrait of Mr Clive Betts MP crop 2.jpg
Official portrait, 2019
Chair of the Housing, Communities and Local Government Select Committee
Assumed office
10 June 2010
Preceded by Phyllis Starkey
Lord Commissioner of the Treasury
In office
28 July 1998 – 7 June 2001
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Preceded by Graham Allen
Succeeded by John Heppell
Member of Parliament
for Sheffield South East
Sheffield Attercliffe (1992–2010)
Assumed office
9 April 1992
Preceded by Patrick Duffy
Majority 4,289 (10.2%)
Leader of Sheffield City Council
In office
Preceded by David Blunkett
Succeeded by Mike Bower
Personal details
Clive James Charles Betts

(1950-01-13) 13 January 1950 (age 72)
Sheffield, England
Nationality British
Political party Labour
Domestic partner James Thomas
Alma mater Pembroke College, Cambridge

Clive James Charles Betts (born 13 January 1950) is a British Labour Party politician and former economist, who was the Member of Parliament (MP) for Sheffield Attercliffe from 1992 to 2010 and is the current MP for the successor seat of Sheffield South East.[1]

Early life

Betts was born on 13 January 1950 in Sheffield. He was state educated at the Longley School in Sheffield, King Edward VII School, Sheffield and Pembroke College, Cambridge, where he received a BA in Economics and Politics.

He joined the Labour Party in 1969 and joined the Trades Union Congress in 1971 as an economist. In 1973, he was appointed as an economist with Derbyshire County Council, and moved to the South Yorkshire County Council in 1974 where he was an economist until 1986.[2] In 1986, he was appointed as an economist with Rotherham Borough Council.

Sheffield City Council

Betts stood unsuccessfully as the Labour Party candidate in the Burngreave Ward in the 1975 city council election. He was subsequently elected in the Firth Park ward in the 1976 city council election and re-elected in 1980, 1984 and 1988.[3]

As a Sheffield City councillor, he was chair of the Housing Committee for six years, deputy leader and chair of the Finance Committee for one year and the chief whip of the Labour Group for three years. He was also formerly the group secretary.[2]

Betts became deputy leader of Sheffield City Council under David Blunkett in 1986. He succeeded Blunkett as leader in 1987 following the latter's election as MP for Sheffield Brightside. As leader of the council, Betts presided over the council's controversial decision to fund the 1991 World Student Games.[4]

Parliamentary career

In October 1974, he unsuccessfully stood for election to the House of Commons as the Labour Party candidate in the safe Conservative seat of Sheffield Hallam, being defeated by the incumbent John Osborn. At the subsequent general election, he unsuccessfully fought the safe Conservative seat of Louth, being defeated by the incumbent Michael Brotherton.

He was selected to contest the safe Labour seat of Sheffield Attercliffe following the retirement of the veteran Labour MP Patrick Duffy. At the 1992 general election, Betts was elected with a large majority, and made his maiden speech on 6 May 1992.

Government career

Betts was made an opposition whip under Tony Blair in 1996, and after the 1997 general election, he entered the government as an assistant whip. He was promoted in 1998 to full whip, with the title of Lord Commissioner to the Treasury, but was dropped from the government after the 2001 general election.

Select committee membership

Since 10 June 2010, he has been chairman of the Communities and Local Government Committee and, on 19 June 2015, was returned unopposed as its chairman.[5]

Elsewhere, Betts sits on the Finance Committee, Panel of Chairs, National Policy Statements Sub-Committee and Liaison Committee. He has been on the Treasury and Civil Service Committee, Treasury Committee, Committee of Selection, Transport, Local Government and The Regions Committee, Urban Affairs Sub-Committee, Yorkshire and the Humber Regional Select Committee, Committee on Reform of the House of Commons, Liaison Committee and Office of the Deputy Prime Minister Select committee.[6]


In 2003, Betts was suspended from the House of Commons for seven days for irregularities involving the employment and visa of Jose Gasparo, a Brazilian student with previous experience as a male escort.[7] The Daily Telegraph newspaper reported on 10 July 2010 that Betts' partner and parliamentary assistant, James Thomas, had tried to edit this fact from Betts' English Wikipedia page in an attempt to cover it up.[8]

Betts was found guilty of breaching the MPs' code of conduct, with the Standards and Privileges Committee stating that he had acted "extremely foolishly" and had risked damaging public confidence in the integrity of Parliament. Particular concerns involved his failure to disclose Gasparo's background to parliamentary authorities and the fact that Betts had knowingly photocopied an altered document on Gasparo's behalf.[9] Betts gave an "unreserved apology" in a personal statement to MPs when the report was published.[10]


In 2003, Betts was subject to criticism for his accommodation expenses after he had previously campaigned for an increase in MPs' entitlements on the ground of "hardship". It was reported by The Times that Betts had "flipped" his designated second home to Yorkshire before buying a "country estate" there, before "flipping it" back to London and taking out a larger mortgage on his flat there.[11] Betts denied wrongdoing, arguing the Yorkshire property had been "two dilapidated listed buildings" and that when he became a whip he had to declare his main residence as his London flat.[12]

In 2004, he was criticised by the British Medical Association for going to Portugal with 15 fellow MPs on an all-expenses trip paid for by the fast food chain McDonald's. Betts responded that if MPs had a "puritanical" attitude about food then people would ignore what they said.[13]

He faced further criticism in 2010 after it was reported that he was one of eight MPs who were renting out a "second home" in London while claiming for the cost of renting a '"third home" in the city at taxpayers' expense. Although legal, critics argued the "loophole" was allowing MPs to increase their income after the rules on parliamentary expenses were tightened.[14]

Betts employs his partner as his Senior Parliamentary Assistant on a salary up to £45,000.[15] He was listed in articles in The Daily Telegraph and The Guardian which criticised the practice of MPs employing family members, on the lines that it promotes nepotism.[16] Although MPs who were first elected in 2017 have been banned from employing family members, the restriction is not retrospective – meaning that Betts' employment of his partner is lawful.[17]

Policies and views

EU referendum

Betts backed remain in the 2016 United Kingdom European Union membership referendum.[18]

Labour leadership challenge

He supported Owen Smith in the 2016 Labour Party (UK) leadership election.[19]

Personal life

Betts lives in a farmhouse on the Derbyshire border with his partner James Thomas, who is also employed as his parliamentary assistant.[20] He plays cricket, supports Sheffield Wednesday F.C. and, in the past, has played squash and football and used to be a regular Sheffield Marathon runner.[2] In March 2021, Betts became a trustee of the green space charity Fields in Trust.[21]


  1. ^ "Mr Clive Betts MP". UK Parliament. Retrieved 15 March 2018.
  2. ^ a b c Councillor's details, from Correspondence/meetings with Leader 4.19 January 1986 (reference 1993/23/23), held at Sheffield City Archives.
    • Papers of Clive Betts, MP, Sheffield (reference MP8) held at Sheffield City Archives Calmview:Record
  3. ^ "Election Results" (PDF). Sheffield City Council. Retrieved 22 November 2018.
  4. ^ "Sheffield's World Student Games £658m debt 'disaster'". BBC News. 14 July 2011. Retrieved 2 June 2020.
  5. ^ "Winning candidates for select committee Chairs announced". UK Parliament. 18 June 2015. Retrieved 19 June 2015.
  6. ^ "Clive Betts MP". HM Government. Retrieved 22 November 2018.
  7. ^ "House of Commons – Standards and Privileges – Fifth Report".
  8. ^ Ben Leach and Rebecca Lefort (10 July 2010). "MPs' scandals covered up on Wikipedia". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 13 July 2010.
  9. ^ "Complaints against Mr Clive Betts" (PDF). Retrieved 29 May 2021.
  10. ^ "MP suspended from Commons". BBC News. 11 September 2003.
  11. ^ "Clive Betts had farm estate when he fought for 'hardship' expenses". The Times. 13 July 2009. Retrieved 22 November 2018.
  12. ^ "MP Betts denies wrongdoing in expenses row". Sheffield Star. 13 July 2009. Retrieved 22 November 2018.[dead link]
  13. ^ "MP defends McDonald's-paid trip". BBC News. 16 June 2014. Retrieved 22 November 2018.
  14. ^ "MPs who own London homes still claim rent". Independent. 5 December 2010. Retrieved 22 November 2018.
  15. ^ "IPSA". GOV.UK. Retrieved 22 November 2018.
  16. ^ "One in five MPs employs a family member: the full list revealed". The Daily Telegraph. 29 June 2015. Retrieved 22 November 2018.
    - Mason, Rowena (29 June 2015). "Keeping it in the family: new MPs continue to hire relatives as staff". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 November 2018.
  17. ^ "MPs banned from employing spouses after election in expenses crackdown". London Evening Standard. 21 April 2017. Retrieved 22 November 2018.
  18. ^ "EU vote: Where the cabinet and other MPs stand". 22 June 2016. Retrieved 29 April 2017.
  19. ^ "Full list of MPs and MEPs backing challenger Owen Smith". Labour List. 21 July 2016. Retrieved 15 July 2019.
  20. ^ Helm, Toby (27 February 2003). "MP comes out and admits gay lover". Daily Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 27 September 2019.
  21. ^ "Senior Parliamentarian Clive Betts MP joins Trustee Board". Fields in Trust. 30 March 2021. Retrieved 19 September 2021.

External links

Political offices
Preceded by Leader of Sheffield City Council
Succeeded by
Mike Bower
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by Member of Parliament for Sheffield Attercliffe
Constituency abolished
New constituency Member of Parliament for Sheffield South East