Working hard for all in Bishop Auckland

31 January 2015

Campaigning for Bishop Auckland General Hospital

Opening the new Berco factory in Spennymoor

Opening the Sure Start centre in Coundon

Talking to Carers in Barnard Castle

With children at the Sure Start centre in Shildon

Answering questions in the House of Commons

Opening the new Thorns Lighting factory in Spennymoor

Campaigning for Road Safety in Cockfield

Supporting farmers in Teesdale

Meeting new mothers in Bishop Auckland


src=”” />Helen was re-elected as the MP for the Bishop Auckland constituency in the 2010 General Election, winning by 5,218 votes.

Since October 2011 Helen has held the post of Shadow Minister of State for Culture, Media and Sport leading on:

Media- the Leveson Inquiry and legislation to follow
Media- competition and regulation
The BBC and the licence fee
Telecoms and Broadband
The Digital television switchover
Intellectual property
Internal efficiency savings
Accountability and Transparency

From 9 October 2013 Helen’s portfolio also includes:

Creative Industries
Heritage and the built environment
Royal Parks and the Royal Household
National Lotteries
Museums and Galleries
Theatre, Opera and Orchestras.

Helen is currently a Trustee for the Auckland Castle Trust following her successful campaign to retain the Zurbarans at Auckland Castle in her constituency. Helen was previously the Chief Executive of the National Association of Toy and Leisure Libraries. An avid theatre-goer Helen is also a Friend of Bowes Museum in the historic market town of Barnard Castle housing internationally significant collections of fine and decorative arts. Helen wrote an article ‘We Are Haemorrhaging Britain’s National Treasures’ for the Huffington Post in August

From October 2010 to 2011 Helen was an opposition spokesperson for Justice with responsibility for prisons, probation, sentencing policy and youth justice.

From June 2009-2010 Helen was a Government Minister at the Department of Work and Pensions with responsibility for child poverty, childcare and housing benefit, and continued in this position as a Shadow Minister from June-October 2010, when she joined the Shadow Justice team.

In the last Parliament, Helen also served as an Assistant Government Whip (October 08-June 09), Deputy Leader of the House of Commons (June 07-October 08) and a Parliamentary Private Secretary at the Ministry of Justice, and worked on both the influential Public Accounts Committee and the pre-legislative Scrutiny Committee for the Climate Change Act.

Helen was first elected in 2005, and prior to becoming an MP was a senior civil servant at HM Treasury, a senior executive of two children’s charities, and Director of the Commission on the Future of Multi Ethnic Britain.

She is married with two children, and outside of politics she enjoys cooking, walking and being with her family.


Helen was born in Nottingham in 1958 and grew up in Derbyshire. After going to the local comprehensive school, she went to Somerville College, Oxford, where she read Politics, Philosophy and Economics. After leaving Oxford, Helen’s first job was as a researcher for Philip Whitehead MP.

She became a civil servant at the Treasury in 1980 and rose to become Head of the Central Strategy Unit in 1995. Her time at the Treasury also included a period working in the office of the Czechoslovak Prime Minister during the transition from communism in 1990 to 1991.

Having left the Treasury in 1997, Helen became Director of the Commission on the Future of Multi Ethnic Britain, and in 1998 became Head of Strategy at the Children’s Society. From 2002 until entering Parliament, she was Chief Executive of the National Association of Toy and Leisure Libraries.

Helen is a member of the GMB, Amnesty International and the Christian Socialist Movement. She has also been Chair of Camden Co-operative Party and a school governor.

Helen’s main political interests include the environment, children’s issues and international development.

You can find out more about Helen’s political interests here and you can read a number of her published articles and speeches here.

Upcoming Events

Helen speaking in the Opposition Day Debate on NHS Spending