Profile: Angela Smith

New voluntary sector minister is a staunch supporter of the Government and a close ally of the Prime Minister

Angela Smith, third sector minister
Angela Smith, third sector minister

The new minister for the third sector, Angela Smith, has been a staunch supporter of the Government since she was elected 12 years ago. She has also been a close ally of Gordon Brown, working as his parliamentary private secretary since he became Prime Minister nearly two years ago.

"In some ways I'm the eyes and ears of the Prime Minister at Westminster," she told one interviewer. "Everyone wants to tell the Prime Minister what they think – I get the opportunity to do so."

Smith is the latest in a line of voluntary sector ministers who have rarely stayed in the post for much more than a year. She is the third person to occupy the job since Ed Miliband vacated the post two years ago to join the Cabinet.

Phil Hope held the position from July 2007 to October 2008, followed by Smith's immediate predecessor Kevin Brennan, whose ministerial term lasted only eight months.

Smith, 50, holds a slim 3,142 majority in her Basildon and East Thurrock constituency. According to the website TheyWorkForYou, she voted very strongly in favour of the Iraq war and anti-terrorism laws and has not rebelled against the party in this parliament.

She was embroiled in the recent row over MPs' expenses when it emerged she claimed £1,100 in 2004 to have a bath, shower and thermostatic taps installed as part of a refurbishment of her flat in Elephant and Castle, south London.

Elected as an MP in 1997 after standing unsuccessfully for parliament in Southend West in 1987, Smith has wide parliamentary experience.

Before Gordon Brown became Prime Minister she spent a year as a Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Communities and Local Government department. She has also served as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and assistant government whip.

She was an officer of the charities and voluntary sector all-party parliamentary group from 1997 to 1999 and was a research officer to Alun Michael during his stint as shadow minister for home affairs and the voluntary sector from 1995 to 1997. Before that, she was employed by the League Against Cruel Sports as head of political and public relations.

A former Essex county councillor, she lists her additional political interests as crime prevention, consumer protection, international development, employment issues and fairness at work, animal welfare and youth and children's issues. One of her main tasks in her new role will be to help implement the Government's £40.5m action plan to help the sector through the recession.

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