James is the Member of Parliament for North East Hampshire, a seat he contested first in 1997. Until April 2014, he was Chairman of the House of Commons Defence Select Committee, a role which he held since 2004. He was Minister of State for Defence Procurement from 1995-7, and was Parliamentary Under Secretary of State to Archie Hamilton during his period as Minister for the Armed Forces. James also served on the Intelligence and Security Committee from 2001 to 2005, and was the Chairman of the Conservative Friends of Israel until 2013.
He has been Chairman of the British-Spanish Tertulias since 2012. The Tertulias is a weekend gathering of senior figures from government, industry, and the arts from both countries who meet once a year to share ideas and conversation at the very highest level.
James's political career began in local government. He was a Kensington and Chelsea Borough councillor from 1978 to 1987, and was active in both the Putney and Chelsea Conservative Associations.
He won the seat of Wanstead and Woodford in 1987. Prior to this, he contested the Cynon Valley constituency in the 1983 General Election, and in the 1984 by-election during the miners' strike, when he persuaded the SDP/Alliance candidate to join the Conservative Party.
In 1997 James contested and won his present seat of North East Hampshire following the abolition of Wanstead and Woodford by the Boundary Commission. He is committed to his constituency, and campaigns actively on local matters. Before becoming Chair of the Defence Committee he led the Mull of Kintyre Group of cross-Party MPs and peers in their campaign to persuade the Government to overturn a verdict of gross negligence brought against the brother of one of his constituents, an RAF pilot who was killed in the 1994 Chinook crash on the Mull of Kintyre.
James was Campaign Manager to William Hague in the Conservative leadership contest which followed the 1997 General Election. From 1997 until 2001 he was the Opposition Chief Whip in the House of Commons. In 2003 he was appointed Shadow Secretary of State for Trade, a post he relinquished in July 2005 in order to devote his energies to chairing the Defence Select Committee.
He was Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department of Social Security in 1994-95, responsible for pensions, fraud, and deregulation. Prior to that, he served as Government Whip for two years.
James was born in 1952. He is married to Emma, the Deputy Senior District Judge of England and Wales. They have four children and live in Mortimer with several dogs.
James was called to the bar in 1975, and practised as a barrister until 1992. His interests include his family, music and skiing.