Robert was born in 1956. He was educated at Colston’s School in Bristol and has a Road Haulage Managers (CPC) Certificate. He has two children, Imogen and Nicholas, and separated from Fiona in early 2006.
Robert is a former Managing Director of a Building and Plant Hire Group and is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Building (FCIOB).
Robert was elected MP for Poole in 1997 and is currently Chairman of the Regulatory Reform Committee. In December 1999 he was appointed as Frontbench Spokesman for environment, transport and the regions. In September 2001, he was appointed as Vice Chairman of the Conservative Party. In March 2003, he was also appointed as an Opposition Whip. From November 2003 to July 2007, he served as a Shadow Minister for Local Government.
He was elected to Wiltshire County Council in 1985 and served as a Whip (1990-93). During the same period he was also Vice-Chairman of the Finance committee. He served as a councilor on North Wiltshire District Council (1983-87). He was Vice-Chairman of the Council and Leader of the majority Conservative Group (1984-87). Robert was a member of the Wessex Regional health Authority 1988-90. He was a Founder Chairman of the Calne Development Project Trust (a community Regeneration Scheme based in Calne 1986-97. He contested the Parliamentary seat of Walsall North in 1992.