Phillip Bennion

Born 07/10/1954, Tamworth, Staffordshire

School Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School, Tamworth. 9 O-levels, 3 A-levels.  House Captain.


Aberdeen. BSc Agricultural Biology  Class 2, Div 1  (1977)

Newcastle upon Tyne. PhD entitled “Improving the yield of late sown Winter Oilseed Rape” awarded 1986.

Birmingham. BA in History + Economic and Social History, Class 1 (1994).


Lecturer in Crop Production, Shuttleworth College, 1983-4.

Arable farmer, self-employed, 1985 to present.

Farm Details

Haunton Manor Farm, Haunton, Tamworth, Staffs, B79 9HN.Small arable farm of 106 hectares lying 6 miles north of Tamworth, including mixed soil types, but mainly silty clay loam. The farm is run as a one-man operation using a contractor for combining. The farm is owner-occupied and has been occupied by the family since 1934. Principle crops are winter wheat and winter oilseed rape and field beans. There is a small acreage of permanent pasture adjacent to a river. Miscanthus for renewable energy has been planted on 11ha, partly for use in a bale boiler for heating the property, the remainder being sold to a power station for renewable electricity production. Some of the lighter land is occasionally rented out for root crops to local specialist growers. The farm has grown a number of other combinable crops in the recent past including crambe, combining peas and linseed.The farm is now too small to provide a full income so the business has been diversified to let out up to 10 bedrooms as medium to long term self catered lodgings. The area is dominated by farm businesses of over 500ha, which compete fiercely for any land available to let or for contract farming. Hence attempts to secure extra land have so far not been successful. The farm is in the Higher Level Scheme of Envronmental Stewardship and was previously under a Countryside Stewardship Scheme. Features include buffering of watercourses, wet grassland, wild bird seed, pollen and nectar mix, skylark plots, hedgerow management and field corner management. 

Farming related Committee Work


Lichfield, Rugeley and Tamworth branch chairman 1993.

Staffordshire Arable Committee chairman 1994-8.

Staffordshire County Chairman 1996.

(National) Oilseeds, Proteins and Fibre Crops (later Oilseeds, Proteins and Alternative Crop Uses) 1998-2002 including one year as vice chair.

West Midlands Combinable Crops Board.

NFU representative on Staffordshire Rural Forum and formerly on Environment Agency area group.

HGCA Oilseeds R&D Committee, 1996-2002 and then on the amalgamated Combinable Crops R&D Committee 2005-2011. Also sat on Market Information on behalf of NFU Oilseeds Committee 1998-2000.

Former Chair of the MIN-NO project, a £5m DEFRA LINK research project aimed at reducing Nitrous Oxide emissions from arable farming.

Rural Economy

Staffordshire Rural Forum; Vice Chair 2003-09; this group includes all of the public sector players in the rural economy, including local authorities, formerly the Regional Development Agency (AWM), Government Office, DEFRA, Business Link, Tourist Board, Heart of England Fine Foods, Rodbaston College and Staffordshire Wildlife Trust.

Staffordshire Rural Hub, Founding Chair 2004-09. Phillip stood down in 2009 to concentrate on the European campaigning, but remained as Vice Chair until November 2011, when he resigned ahead of taking up the European Parliamentary seat. This is a private sector organisation set up to help rural regeneration in the County. This is currently a unique West Midlands formula where all five counties have a hub, each with a part time co-ordinator. This is a new initiative and received funding from AWM until the end of 2011. It is currently making the transformation to a company limited by guarantee providing rural services to the public sector on a contract basis. Other partners include the NFU, CLA and the County Council. Phillip remains a member of the Board.



Liberal Democrat Councillor on Lichfield District Council, 1999 - 2011.

Staffordshire County Council, 2002-2005. By-election win in 2002 narrowly lost in May 2005.

Parliamentary candidate for Lichfield Constituency, 1997 & 2001, for the Tamworth Constituency in 2005, Telford in 2010 and Birmingham Hodge Hill in 2015 and 2017.

European Parliamentary Candidate for West Midlands in 1999, 2004 and 2009, being elected to No2 on the Liberal Democrats’ regional list in 2009 and No1 on the 2019 list.

Phil was a member of the Liberal Democrats Federal Policy Committee, which takes responsibility for developing policy and drafting manifestos, until December 2011. FPC representative on DEFRA/DECC and Transport Parliamentary Policy Committees set up to develop Liberal Democrat positions and priorities within the Coalition. Phillip agreed to remain as a corresponding member on DEFRA/DECC policy committee subsequent to taking up the seat in Brussels.

Phillip has sat on many Policy Working Groups including Climate Change, Europe and Natural Environment and has drafted current Liberal Democrat policy on the CAP, both from the European perspective and the implementation of Pillar 2 from the national perspective.


Member of the Liberal Democrats International Relations Committee 2007 to 2012 and 2014-present

Currently a member of the governing Council of the European Liberal Democrat and Reform Group (ELDR). This is the federation of European parties that acts as the Liberal Group in the European Parliament. Phillip has taken a leading role in negotiating policy positions with sister parties in ELDR since 2005. The ELDR federation was renamed ALDE, the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, to match the name of the ALDE group in the European Parliament, at the end of 2012.

Liberal International; Currently a member of Liberal International British Group Executive Committee and a delegate at every LI Congress since 2005. Phillip also attends full LI Executive meetings mirroring his negotiating role on ELDR / ALDE Council. He has recently drafted policy on food security and food prices. In 2010 he spoke at an international conference on the interaction between food security, international development and climate change at Agadir, Morocco and was jointly responsible for the conference summation.

Chair of Liberal Democrat European Group (LDEG) 2008 until December 2012. Phillip launched Eurofile, a new magazine on European liberal politics in 2009 as an organ of LDEG and secured funding from ELDR for its production and distribution in 2012. He remains as Editor, the title will appear quarterly in 2013, primarily distributed onlilne as a pdf. 


A member of Railfuture, Phil supports a modern rail transport system. He supports a high speed rail network for the UK in principle but favours changes to the HS2 scheme to reduce its environmental impact and improve connections with existing services. 

Other interests include cricket (formerly as a Derbyshire County League player, now on the umpire’s list.)

The Arts including theatre (RSC full member), music (CBSO member;) and opera, (Friends of Opera North) and Art History (an option subject taken whilst at the University of Birmingham).

World Travel as an independent traveller.

Subscriptions and Memberships include NFU, CLA, CAMRA, Economist, Financial Times (including FT.Com), Private Eye, National Geographic, History Today.

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