Sir Gerald was born in September 1947. He was educated at Haileybury and ISC Junior School, Windsor, and Bloxham School, Banbury (scholar). He read English at the University of Southampton (BA Hons) where he served with the University Air Squadron and was commissioned into the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve in 1968.
After university he became General Secretary of the Society for Individual Freedom but in 1971 he began a career in international banking. He worked for Bank of America International Ltd (1971-1977), European Arab Bank (1977-81) and in 1981 he was appointed Manager, Loan Syndications at Standard Chartered Bank, responsible for arranging major international loans.
In 1982 Sir Gerald was elected a Councillor for Chiswick in the London Borough of Hounslow.
In 1983 he was elected Member of Parliament for the former coal-mining constituency of Cannock and Burntwood, Staffordshire, Labour’s 50th most marginal seat which he held until 1992, becoming the only Conservative to hold Cannock for 2 terms.
Sir Gerald was appointed Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) to Michael Spicer MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department of Energy (1987-90), then Minister of State of the Department of the Environment (1990-91). From December 1991 to April 1992 Sir Gerald served as PPS to Margaret Thatcher.
Between 1983 and 1992 he was an officer of the Conservative Parliamentary Aviation Committee, and was a Founder Member of the No Turning Back Group.
In 1993, a year after losing his seat in Staffordshire, Sir Gerald was selected as the Conservative candidate for Aldershot where he succeeded Sir Julian Critchley in 1997. Since then, he has served on the Home Affairs Select Committee (1997-2001) and as Vice-Chairman of the Defence Select Committee (2001-03).
For a while he was a member of the Executive of the 1922 Committee of Conservative backbenchers.Between 2002 and 2010 he served as a Shadow Defence Minister with responsibility for defence procurement and the Royal Air Force.
Following the 2010 General Election, from May 2010 to September 2012, he served as Minister for International Security Strategy at the Ministry of Defence, responsible for the EU, defence diplomacy and defence exports.
Apart from defence, he takes a keen interest in home affairs issues, family issues, the media and industry.
Causes Sir Gerald Supports
He is President of the British Air Display Association (which represents those who organise and participate in air shows around the UK and Europe) and in 2006 became a Trustee of the Vulcan To the Sky project which operates the only flying Vulcan bomber. He is a Trustee of the British Forces Foundation which arranges for leading entertainers to entertain the troops, and with his wife Lizzie, Joint Patron of Aerobility, the British Disabled Flying Association.
Family Life and Hobbies
Sir Gerald has been married to Elizabeth since 1973 and they have 3 children. In his spare time he enjoys flying (he has held a pilot’s licence since 1965), photography and fishing, and is a church warden at the Royal Garrison Church in Aldershot. He also does the occasional DIY.