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The Right Honourable
 Jacqui Smith 
MP


In office
28 June 2007 – 5 June 2009
Prime Minister Gordon Brown
Preceded by John Reid
Succeeded by Alan Johnson

In office
5 May 2006 – 28 June 2007
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Preceded by Hilary Armstrong
Succeeded by Geoff Hoon

Member of Parliament
for Redditch
Incumbent
Assumed office 
1 May 1997
Preceded by Constituency established
Majority 2,716 (6.7%)

Born 3 November 1962 (1962-11-03) (age 47)
Malvern, United Kingdom
Political party Labour
Alma mater Hertford College, Oxford

Jacqueline Jill "Jacqui" Smith (born 3 November 1962) is a British Labour politician, who has been the Member of Parliament for Redditch since 1997, and notably served as the first ever female Home Secretary, thus making her the third woman to hold one of the Great Offices of State — after Margaret Thatcher (Prime Minister) and Margaret Beckett (Foreign Secretary).

She was one of the MPs investigated by the parliamentary commissioner for standards over inappropriate expense claims, though no action was taken.[1 ] On 2 June 2009, it emerged she would stand down at the Cabinet reshuffle on 5 June 2009.[2]

Contents

Early life

Born in Malvern, Worcestershire, Smith attended Dyson Perrins High School in Malvern. Her parents were teachers. Her local MP, Conservative backbencher Sir Michael Spicer, recalled in Parliament in 2003 how he had first met her when he was addressing the sixth form at The Chase School, where Smith's mother was a teacher.[3] "So great was my eloquence that she immediately rushed off and joined the Labour Party."[4] Smith went on to study for a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Hertford College, Oxford. After Oxford, she studied for a PGCE at Worcester College of Higher Education.

Working as a school teacher, from 1986 to 1988 she taught Economics at Arrow Vale High School in Redditch[5] Subsequently she taught children at Worcester Sixth Form College, before becoming Head of Economics and GNVQ Co-ordinator at Haybridge High School, Hagley in 1990.

Political career

Member of Parliament

Smith was selected to stand for election for Labour through an all-women shortlist.[6] This method of selection was subsequently declared illegal in January 1996 as it breached sex discrimination laws.[7] Despite the ruling she remained in place as the candidate for the following year's election.

She was elected MP for Redditch at the 1997 general election, as part of a (then) record number of female MPs elected to the House of Commons who were pejoratively tagged "Blair Babes". Smith was re-elected in 2001 and 2005. Due to boundary changes, she currently has a majority of 1,948 (4.6% of the 2005 vote).[8] This is the smallest majority of any current Cabinet member and makes her a prime target for the Conservatives in the next general election.

Smith entered the Government in July 1999 as a Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Education and Employment, working with the Minister for School Standards Estelle Morris.[9] She then became a Minister of State at the Department for Health after the 2001 general election. She was appointed as the Government's deputy Minister for Women in 2003, working alongside Secretary of State Patricia Hewitt. In this role she published the Government's proposals for Civil Partnerships, a system designed to offer same-sex couples an opportunity to gain legal recognition for their relationship with an associated set of rights and responsibilities.

Minister for Schools

Following the 2005 general election, Smith was appointed to serve as the Minister of State for Schools in the Department for Education and Skills, replacing Stephen Twigg who had lost his seat.[10] She received praise in this role – often outperforming her superior Ruth Kelly. Teacher trade union sources stated that Smith "talked to us on our level".[11]

Government Chief Whip

In the 2006 reshuffle she was appointed as the Government's Chief Whip. In a period when supporters of Gordon Brown were pushing Prime Minister Tony Blair to resign, she was successfully able to calm the situation down.[11] The BBC's political editor Nick Robinson described her as being effective at "making peace between the warring Blair and Brown factions".[12]

Smith was regarded as a loyal Blairite during Tony Blair's premiership, a position reflected in her voting record,[13] and she was brought to tears by Blair's farewell appearance in the House of Commons.[11]

Home Secretary

Smith was appointed Home Secretary in Gordon Brown's first Cabinet reshuffle of 28 June 2007. Just one day into her new job bombs were found in London and a terrorist attack took place in Glasgow the following day.[14]

On 24 January 2008, she announced new powers for the police, including the proposal to hold "terrorist suspects" or those "linked to terrorism" for forty-two days without charge.[15] In the same month Smith was involved in controversy when she admitted that she would not feel safe on the streets of London at night. Such statements were compounded by her suggestion that walking on streets at night was not "a thing that people do". Critics suggested her statements were an admission that the government had failed to tackle crime effectively.[16] Smith also introduced legislation to toughen the prostitution laws of England and Wales, making it a criminal offence to pay for sex with a prostitute controlled by a pimp, with the possibility that anyone caught paying for sex with an illegally trafficked woman could face rape charges.[17]

Smith will introduce a crime mapping scheme which will allow for citizens of England and Wales to access information about local crime information and how to combat crime.[18] As Home Secretary, she was pleased to announce that minor crime has dropped year on year under the Labour government, and continued to do so in 2008.[19] Her officials, however, acknowledge that major crimes such as serious assault, rape and murder have increased year-on-year under the Labour government and are at their highest level since at least 1997.[20]

Smith managed to pass the 42 day detention law plans in the House of Commons, despite heavy opposition.[21] The House of Lords voted overwelmingly against the law, with some of the Lords reportedly characterising it as "fatally flawed, ill thought through and unnecessary", stating that "it seeked to further erode fundamental legal and civil rights".[22]

When Damian Green was arrested in his commons office, Smith stated that she was not informed of the impending arrest. The Metropolitan Police said that Green was "arrested on suspicion of conspiring to commit misconduct in a public office and aiding and abetting, counselling or procuring misconduct in a public office". A junior Home Office official Christopher Galley was later arrested regarding the same alleged offences as Green, and was released on bail. He was not charged, but he was suspended from his Home Office job while the investigation continued. He was later sacked from his position for gross misconduct. Green did not dispute having dealings with the Home Office official.[23][24]

In March 2009 a leaked poll of Labour Party members revealed that Smith was considered to be the worst performing member of the cabinet, with only 56% of her party believing she was doing a good job.[25]

National identity legislation

In May 2009, Smith announced that the cost of introducing the National Identity Card project had risen to an estimated £5.3 billion, and that they are first to become compulsory for foreign students and airport staff. The cards would be made available from high-street shops at an estimated cost of £60.[26 ] Smith defended her decision to use high street shops, and stated that the hope was to make enrollment in the scheme a less intimidating experience, and to make the cards easier to access.[27] She has claimed, despite evidence to the contrary, that the majority of the population is in favour of the scheme.[26 ][28] In another privacy-related issue, Smith said she was disappointed at the European Court of Human Rights' decision to strike down a law allowing the government to store the DNA and fingerprints of people with no criminal record, in December 2008 an estimated 850,000 such DNA samples were being held in England and Wales.[29] Her compromise was to scale down the length of time that data could be kept, with a maximum limit of 12 years. A number of commentators felt that this went against the spirit of the Court's decision.[30][31]

Drug policy

On 19 July 2007 Smith admitted to smoking cannabis a few times in Oxford in the 1980s. "I did break the law... I was wrong... drugs are wrong," she said. Asked why students today should listen when she urged them not to try the drug, she said that the dangers of cannabis use had become clearer, including mental health issues and the increasing strength of the drug over the past 25 years. Smith's admission was made public the day after Gordon Brown appointed her head of a new government review of the UK Drugs strategy.[32]

In May 2008, against the recommendations of her own scientific advisers,[33] Smith reversed the government's 2004 decision to downgrade cannabis to a class C drug, returning it back to the higher penalization status of class B, with the law change taking effect on 26 January 2009.[34]

In February 2009 Smith was accused by her most senior expert drugs adviser Professor David Nutt of making a political decision in rejecting the scientific advice to downgrade ecstasy from a class A drug. The advisory council on the misuse of drugs (ACMD) report on ecstasy, based on a 12-month study of 4,000 academic papers, concluded that it is nowhere near as dangerous as other class A drugs such as heroin and crack cocaine, and should be downgraded to class B alongside amphetamines and cannabis. The advice was not followed; the government saying that it was "not prepared to send a message to young people that we take ecstasy less seriously".[35] Smith was also widely criticised by the scientific community for bullying Professor David Nutt into apologising for his comments that, in the course of a normal year, more people died from falling off horses than died from taking ecstasy.[36]

Expenses controversies

Smith was investigated by the parliamentary commissioner for standards over accusations that she inappropriately claimed expenses for her sister's home in London and no action was taken.[1 ] Smith has claimed over £116,000 on the property since becoming an MP,[37] however she contends that she has done nothing wrong.

On 8 February 2009, it was revealed in the press that Smith had designated a house in London owned by her sister as her main residence in order to claim a parliamentary allowance for her house in Redditch as a secondary home, despite explicitly stating on her website that she "lives in Redditch".[38] She has claimed more than £116,000 over six years from this arrangement.[39] When asked whether it was fair that she made claims believed to have been made for items such as a flat screen TV and scatter cushions, she said that analyses of her receipts had been very particular. In response to criticisms over her housing allowances, she said it was the "nature of the job" that MPs had to furnish and run two properties.[40] However, Sir Alistair Graham, the former Chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life was critical of her actions stating that naming her sister's spare bedroom as her main home was "near fraudulent". In reply to this comment, it was reported that Smith threatened to take legal action for 'malicious falsehood'[41]

It was also reported that Smith had claimed expenses for an internet bill that contained two adult films and two other pay-per-view films. Smith said it was a mistake, and she would repay the amount.[42] This and other cases prompted calls for reform of the additional costs allowance and a new system of payments to be introduced.[43] Gordon Brown supported her and said she had done nothing wrong.[44]

On 5 June the Police at Scotland Yard said that they had not found evidence of criminal activity and that it was 'highly unlikely' that MPs would face charges, however there was still a small number of allegations' involving 'phantom mortgages' that needed further investigation. The Police said that the incidents of 'flipping'second homes was not a matter for Police investigation.[45]

In October 2009, it was reported that the Standards Commissioner, John Lyon, had looked into complaints over her expense claims. He concluded that her constituency home was in fact her main home, and that she was in breach of Commons rules, despite "significant mitigating circumstances". The claims for pay-per-view films were also found to be in breach. Ms Smith was told to "apologize to the House by means of a personal statement." Ms Smith reacted by saying that she was "disappointed that this process has not led to a fairer set of conclusions, based on objective and consistent application of the rules as they were at the time." [46]

Exclusion list

On 5 May 2009, Smith named 16 'undesirable individuals', including convicted murderers and advocates of violence, who were to be banned from entering the United Kingdom over their alleged threat to public order.[47] Controversially, the exclusion list included outspoken American talk radio host Michael Savage, who instructed London lawyers to sue Smith for 'serious and damaging defamatory allegations'.[48][49] A Home Office spokeswoman said: "The home secretary has made it clear that if such a case was brought that any legal proceedings would be robustly defended."[50] Smith defended the choice of individuals by declaring, 'If you can't live by the rules that we live by, the standards and the values that we live by, we should exclude you from this country and, what's more, now we will make public those people that we have excluded.'[51]

After the Home Office

On 2 June 2009, Smith confirmed that she would leave the Cabinet in the next reshuffle, expected after the local and European elections.[52] She left office on 5 June and returned to the back benches. She was replaced by Alan Johnson. In a subsequent interview with Total Politics Magazine regarding her time as Home Secretary, Smith said, "When I became home secretary, I'd never run a major organisation. I hope I did a good job. But if I did, it was more by luck than by any kind of development of skills. I think we should have been better trained. I think there should have been more induction."[53]

Personal life

Smith married Richard Timney (born 1963 in Ealing, London) in October 1987 in Malvern, Worcestershire, and they have two sons. She is a season-ticket holder at football club Aston Villa, who currently play in the Premier League.[54]

In December 2008, Richard Timney was discovered to be behind a series of letters praising the work of Smith that were sent to newspapers; however, he had failed to disclose that he was her husband and managing her constituency office.[55]

References

  1. ^ a b Smith asked to explain expenses, BBC News, 18 February 2009
  2. ^ "Jacqui Smith to resign as Home Secretary at reshuffle". The Times. London. 2 June 2009. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article6415037.ece. Retrieved 2 June 2009.  
  3. ^ Minister visits high school, This is Worcestershire, 8 June 2001.
  4. ^ House of Commons Hansard, 1 April 2003, column 876: Michael Spicer on Jacqui Smith.
  5. ^ New Minister of State for Health, UK Transplant Bulletin, Autumn 2001.
  6. ^ "All women shortlists". House of commons library. http://www.parliament.uk/commons/lib/research/briefings/snpc-05057.pdf. Retrieved 4 August 2009.  
  7. ^ "Role-play to give women that vital push for Parliament". the independent. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/roleplay-to-give-women-that-vital-push-for-parliament-1278026.html. Retrieved 4 August 2009.  
  8. ^ Redditch, UKPollingReport
  9. ^ "Education ministers change in reshuffle". BBC News. 29 July 1999. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/406923.stm. Retrieved 15 May 2008.  
  10. ^ "Adviser Adonis made a minister". BBC News. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/4530433.stm. Retrieved 15 May 2008.  
  11. ^ a b c "First woman at the Home Office: Jacqui Smith". The Independent. http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/politics/article2720095.ece. Retrieved 22 January 2008.  
  12. ^ "Profile: Jacqui Smith". BBC News. 19 July 2007. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/6906150.stm. Retrieved 15 May 2008.  
  13. ^ Public Whip: Voting Record - Jacqui Smith MP
  14. ^ Baptism of fire for new Home Secretary Smith, Daily Telegraph, 2 July 2007
  15. ^ "smith plans 42 day terror limit". bbc online. 6 December 2007. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/7130072.stm. Retrieved 4 August 2009.  
  16. ^ Home secretary Jacqui Smith scared of walking London alone, The Times, 20 January 2008
  17. ^ "Prostitute users face clampdown". BBC News. 19 November 2008. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/7735908.stm. Retrieved 7 April 2009.  
  18. ^ Crime maps online 'by end 2008', BBC News, 28 July 2008
  19. ^ Recorded crime figures show fall, BBC News, 17 July 2008
  20. ^ Leake, Christopher (15 November 2008). "Serious violent crime is going up NOT down, Home Office chief admits". Daily Mail. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1086172/Serious-violent-crime-going-NOT-Home-Office-chief-admits.html. Retrieved 6 January 2009.  
  21. ^ Brown wins crunch vote on 42 days, BBC News, 11 June 2008
  22. ^ Jacqui Smith creates 'emergency bill' after 42-day detention defeat, Telegraph, 14 October 2008
  23. ^ Philippe Naughton, "MPs' fresh fury as Jacqui Smith defends Home Office over leaks", The Times, 4 December 2008
  24. ^ "damian-green-civil-servant-sacked". guardian online. http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2009/apr/24/damian-green-civil-servant-sacked. Retrieved 2 June 2009.  
  25. ^ http://ukpollingreport.co.uk/blog/archives/1968
  26. ^ a b "Smith ID comments 'beggar belief'", BBC News, 7 November 2008, Accessed 10 December 2008
  27. ^ Jacqui Smith says ID cards could be available from high street shops Russell Jenkins, The Times, 6 May 2009
  28. ^ "People 'can't wait for ID cards'", BBC News, 7 November 2008, Accessed 10 December 2008
  29. ^ Paisley Dodds / Associated Press (4 December 2008). "European court in landmark ruling says Britain can't store DNA, fingerprint data of non-criminals". Cleveland.com. http://www.cleveland.com/world/index.ssf/2008/12/european_court_in_landmark_rul.html. Retrieved 30 March 2009.  
  30. ^ Mark Thomas (7 May 2009). "Smith's DNA database by stealth". The Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/libertycentral/2009/may/07/dna-database-jacqui-smith. Retrieved 10 May 2009.  
  31. ^ Jennifer Gold (10 May 2009). "Church leaders condemn Government decision to retain DNA". Christian Today. http://www.christiantoday.com/article/church.leaders.condemn.government.decision.to.retain.dna/23319.htm. Retrieved 10 May 2009.  
  32. ^ "Home Secretary: I smoked cannabis". BBC News. 19 July 2008. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/6905886.stm. Retrieved 30 March 2009.  
  33. ^ Travis, Alan (May 2008). "Scientists warn Smith over cannabis reclassification". The Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2008/may/08/drugspolicy.drugsandalcohol.  
  34. ^ Hope, Christopher (8 May 2008). "Cannabis to be upgraded to class B drug". The Daily Telegraph. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1935959/Cannabis-to-be-upgraded-to-class-B-drug.html. Retrieved 15 May 2008.  
  35. ^ Travis, Alan (February 2009). "Government criticised over refusal to downgrade ecstasy". The Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2009/feb/11/ecstasy-downgrade-drugs-class.  
  36. ^ Kmietowicz, Zosia (February 2009). "Home secretary accused of bullying drugs adviser over comments about ecstasy". The British Medical Journal. http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/extract/338/feb13_1/b612.  
  37. ^ Smith faces expenses probe call, BBC News, 19 February 2009
  38. ^ Jacqui Smith MP biography, Labour
  39. ^ Walters, Simon (8 February 2008). "Expenses row: 'Lodger' deal earns Jacqui Smith £100,000 as she claims sister's house is main home". Mail on Sunday. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1138782/Expenses-row-Lodger-deal-earns-Jacqui-Smith-100-000-claims-sisters-house-main-home.html. Retrieved 8 February 2009.  
  40. ^ "Smith defends use of allowances". BBC News. 7 April 2009. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/7987102.stm. Retrieved 7 April 2009.  
  41. ^ "Greedy MPs robbing Parliament of respect". Mail Online. 11 May 2009. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-1180232/DAILY-MAIL-COMMENT-Greedy-MPs-robbing-Parliament-respect.html. Retrieved 5 June 2009.  
  42. ^ "Smith 'sorry' for expenses claim". BBC News. 29 March 2009. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7970492.stm. Retrieved 29 March 2009.  
  43. ^ "Scrap second home allowance - PM". BBC News. 30 March 2009. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/7973075.stm. Retrieved 30 March 2009.  
  44. ^ "Brown backs Smith in expenses row". BBC News. 30 March 2009. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/7971221.stm. Retrieved 5 June 2009.  
  45. ^ "MPs to escape prosecution over expenses scandal as police say charges are 'highly unlikely'". mailonline. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1191075/Prosecution-MPs-expenses-scandal-highly-unlikely-admits-Scotland-Yard.html. Retrieved 5 June 2009.  
  46. ^ "Smith ordered to apologise". The Independent. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/smith-ordered-to-apologise-over-expenses-1801530.html. Retrieved 12 October 2009.  
  47. ^ "Home Office name hate promoters excluded from the UK". Press Release. UK Home Office. 5 May 2009. http://press.homeoffice.gov.uk/press-releases/hate-promoters-banned-UK-named. Retrieved 6 May 2009.  
  48. ^ Jacqui Smith sued over shock jock accusations Telegraph.co.uk (31 May 2009)
  49. ^ Home Secretary Jacqui Smith to fight shock-jock Michael Savage's lawsuit, Times Online, 1 June 2009
  50. ^ "Banned 'shock jock' fights back". the BBC. 2 June 2009. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/8079111.stm. Retrieved 29 August 2009.  
  51. ^ "US 'hate list' DJ to sue Britain". BBC News. 6 May 2009. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/8035114.stm. Retrieved 5 May 2009.  
  52. ^ "Home Secretary Smith to step down". BBC News. 2 June 2009. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/8079205.stm. Retrieved 17 July 2009.  
  53. ^ "Smith regrets lack of training". BBC News. 17 July 2009. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/8155454.stm. Retrieved 17 July 2009.  
  54. ^ profile in The Independent, 7 June 2008
  55. ^ Walters, Simon (21 December 2008). "Dear Mr Editor, That Jacqui Smith is doing a fabulous job, her HUSBAND writes to newspaper". Daily Mail. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1099177/Dear-Mr-Editor-That-Jacqui-Smith-doing-fabulous-job-HUSBAND-writes-newspaper.html. Retrieved 30 December 2008.  

External links

Video clips

Offices held

Parliament of the United Kingdom
New constituency Member of Parliament for Redditch
1997–present
Incumbent
Political offices
Preceded by
Barbara Roche
Deputy Minister for Women
2003–2005
Succeeded by
Meg Munn
Preceded by
Stephen Twigg
Minister of State for Schools
2005–2006
Succeeded by
Jim Knight
as Minister of State for Schools and Learners
Preceded by
Hilary Armstrong
Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury
2006–2007
Succeeded by
Geoff Hoon
Chief Whip of the House of Commons
2006–2007
Preceded by
John Reid
Home Secretary
2007–2009
Succeeded by
Alan Johnson

Simple English

Jacqueline Jill "Jacqui" Smith (born 3 November 1962) is an English former politician and was the first female Home Secretary of the United Kingdom. She was the Member of Parliament for the Redditch constituency. She was first elected in the 1997 general election. She lost her seat at the 2010 General Election.

She is a member of the Labour Party.








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