|Member of Parliament |
8 November 1990 – 30 March 2015
|Preceded by||Michael Carr|
|Succeeded by||Peter Dowd|
|Born||28 September 1933|
Bootle, Lancashire (now Merseyside), England
Benton was born in Bootle, Merseyside and was educated at the St Monica's Roman Catholic Primary School on Aintree Road and Secondary School in Bootle and the Bootle Municipal Technical College (now part of the Hugh Baird College of Further Education).
On leaving school in 1949 he received an apprenticeship as a fitter and turner. He entered National Service in 1955 with the RAF. In 1958 he joined the Pacific Steam Navigation Company as a personnel officer, remaining in this position until 1981. In 1982 he became a personnel manager with Girobank.
He has been a Justice of the Peace on the Bootle Bench since 1969. He was elected to serve as a councillor on Bootle County Borough council in 1970, moving to Sefton Borough Council after local government reform in 1973 and serving until his election to Parliament in 1990. Benton was member for the Derby ward from 1970 to 1991 and Leader of the Council from 1986 before being succeeded by Peter Dowd. Dowd also succeeded Benton as MP for the Bootle constituency in May 2015.
Bootle saw the death of two young Labour MPs in 1990. Allan Roberts died on 21 March after a long battle with cancer; Benton was on the shortlist to follow him but lost out to Mike Carr who won the by-election on 24 May. Carr died on 20 July as a result of a heart attack just 57 days after his election. Benton won the selection to fight the second by-election in Bootle. He was elected comfortably on 8 November, obtaining 78% of the vote and nearly ten times that of his nearest rival, the Conservative James Clappison. Following the 2001 general election, he held the safest Labour seat in the country.
Benton voted to restrict the availability of abortion, and opposes embryo research and euthanasia. He was also one of fifteen Labour MPs to oppose the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Bill which equalised the age of consent for homosexual and heterosexual sex. In February 2012, Benton signed a petition sponsored by the Coalition for Marriage which states "I support the legal definition of marriage which is the voluntary union for life of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others. I oppose any attempt to redefine it.". This aroused opposition in his constituency party, with some members feeling he was not prepared to listen to them, contributing towards a move to deselect him.
On 12 June 2014, Benton announced that he would not be standing again at the next election. This was after a vote taken by his constituency Labour party, which opted to open the selection process rather than automatically re-selecting Benton. His absence from the constituency and frequent work abroad were cited as reasons for members failing to support him.
He married Doris Wynne in 1959 in Bootle, who died in 2016, and the couple had four daughters. The tip of Benton's index finger was bitten off by a dog while out campaigning on 6 May 2010 in his Bootle constituency. He was hospitalised and could not vote in the 2010 general election as a result.
On 21 June 2014, Pope Francis conferred a Knighthood of the Pontifical Equestrian Order of St Gregory the Great (KSG) upon Benton in recognition for the contribution he has made to ecclesiastical and civic life on a local and national level.
- "Signatories | Coalition for Marriage". c4m.org.uk. Archived from the original on 24 February 2012. Retrieved 6 June 2022.
- "Bootle MP Joe Benton to step down". BBC News. 12 June 2014. Archived from the original on 22 April 2019. Retrieved 21 June 2018.
- Williams, Liza (7 May 2010). "Bootle MP Joe Benton awaits operation to save finger bitten off by dog". Liverpool Echo. Retrieved 18 October 2011.
- Jamie Bowman (28 June 2014). "Retiring Bootle MP Joe Benton awarded papal knighthood". Liverpool Echo. Archived from the original on 27 April 2017. Retrieved 27 October 2015.