Robert was born in 1956 and was educated at Colston’s School in Bristol. He has a Road Haulage Managers (CPC) Certificate, is a former managing director of a building and plant hire group, and is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Building (FCIOB). He has two children, Imogen and Nicholas, and separated from his wife Fiona in 2006.
Robert was first elected MP for Poole in 1997 and is currently chairman of the High Speed Rail select committee and a member of the Finance and Services committee. Formerly he served on the Administration committee (2013-14) and the Liaison committee (2010-12) and chaired the Regulatory Reform committee (2010-12). In 2001-02 he served as vice-chairman of the Conservative Party and in 2003 as opposition whip. Earlier he was shadow spokesman for environment, transport and the regions (1999-2001) and shadow minister for communities and local government (2003-07). He has served on numerous select committees.
Before he became MP for Poole in 1997, Robert served as a councillor in Wiltshire from 1983. He contested the Parliamentary seat of Walsall North in 1992.