Maria Eagle (born 17 February 1961) is a British Labour Party politician who has served as Member of Parliament (MP) for Garston and Halewood, previously Liverpool Garston, since 1997. She was Minister of State at the Ministry of Justice and Government Equalities Office in Gordon Brown's government. She was previously a junior minister at the Department for Work and Pensions, Department for Education and Skills and Northern Ireland Office.
After the 2010 general election, Eagle became Shadow Solicitor General for England and Wales. She served in the Shadow Cabinets of Ed Miliband and Jeremy Corbyn as Shadow Secretary of State for Transport, Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Shadow Secretary of State for Defence and finally Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. She resigned from the Shadow Cabinet in June 2016. Eagle is the twin sister of fellow Labour MP Angela Eagle.
Early life and career
Eagle was born in Bridlington, East Riding of Yorkshire, the daughter of Shirley (Kirk), a factory worker, and André Eagle, a print worker. She was educated at St Peter's Church of England School in Formby and Formby High School before attending Pembroke College, Oxford, where she was awarded a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics in 1983.
Eagle worked in the voluntary sector from 1983 to 1990, and then went to the College of Law, London, where she took her law finals in 1990, before she joined Brian Thompson & Partners in Liverpool as an articled clerk in 1990. In 1992 she became a solicitor with Goldsmith Williams in Liverpool, and later a Solicitor at Stephen Irving & Co also in Liverpool, where she remained until her election to Westminster.
Early political life and election
After joining the Labour Party, Eagle was elected the secretary of the Crosby Constituency Labour Party (CLP) for two years in 1983, and was also elected as the campaigns organiser with that CLP for three years in 1993. She contested the Crosby seat at the 1992 general election where she lost to the sitting Conservative MP Malcolm Thornton by 14,806 votes.
Prior to the general election in 1997, Eagle was selected through an all-women shortlist to stand for Labour in Garston, Merseyside. She was elected to the House of Commons with a majority of 18,417 and remains an MP, now for Garston and Halewood, following boundary changes in 2010.
Eagle made her maiden speech on 17 June 1997. She became a member of the Public Accounts Committee and in 1999 she was appointed the Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Minister of State at the Department of Health, John Hutton. Her proposed ban on mink fur farming was defeated as a Private Member's Bill but subsequently picked up by the government and enacted as the Fur Farming (Prohibition) Act 2000.
Eagle was promoted to the Tony Blair government following the 2001 general election as a Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Work and Pensions. After the 2005 general election, she was the Minister for Children at the Department for Education and Skills, until the May 2006 reshuffle moved her to Northern Ireland, where she was minister for Employment and Learning. She was moved to the Ministry of Justice when Gordon Brown became Prime Minister in June 2007. In September 2008, she was nominated for Stonewall Politician of the Year for her work to support equality for lesbian, gay and bisexual people. As part of the government reshuffle in October 2008, she assumed additional responsibility for Equalities. In the June 2009 reshuffle, she was promoted to Minister of State. In 2010, she was given a score of 93% in favour of lesbian, gay and bisexual equality by Stonewall.
On 17 May 2009 The Daily Telegraph revealed that Eagle had claimed £3,500 for the refurbishment of the bathroom of her Liverpool home property, then switched her second home designation to a different property four months later. Eagle voted in favour of legislation which would have kept MPs' expenses information secret.
After Labour lost the 2010 general election, Eagle served in interim Labour leader Harriet Harman's frontbench as Shadow Solicitor General for England and Wales and Shadow Justice Minister. In October 2010 Eagle was elected to the Shadow Cabinet of new Labour Party leader Ed Miliband as Shadow Secretary of State for Transport in the Labour Party Shadow Cabinet election. In February 2013, she voted in favour in the House of Commons Second Reading vote on marriage equality in Britain.
Eagle was appointed Shadow Secretary of State for Defence in September 2015 by the newly elected Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. Eagle said she was surprised by her appointment as she had disagreed with Corbyn's advocacy of unilateral nuclear disarmament and supported the renewal of the Trident nuclear weapons system. Tasked with leading Labour's defence review, she said she would not rule out the possibility of it recommending unilateral disarmament. However, she described Corbyn commenting he would not countenance using a nuclear deterrent as "unhelpful" to the policy process.
In January 2016, Eagle was moved to the position of Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. She resigned from the shadow cabinet on 27 June 2016 in the mass resignation of the Shadow Cabinet following the Brexit referendum. She supported Owen Smith in the failed attempt to replace Jeremy Corbyn in the 2016 Labour Party leadership election.
- Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (2007–09)
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- Maria Eagle MP official website
- Profile at Parliament of the United Kingdom
- Contributions in Parliament at Hansard
- Contributions in Parliament at Hansard 1803–2005
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- Record in Parliament at TheyWorkForYou