Maria Eagle to work on gay rights bill as Equalities minister

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A junior Justice minister is to take on additional duties for Equalities.

Maria Eagle replaces Barbara Follett, who leaves the Government Equalities Office to become an arts minister.

She is the twin sister of Angela Eagle, a junior Treasury minister who last month became the first female MP to enter into a civil partnership.

In her new Equalities role, announced as part of the government reshuffle, Maria Eagle will work with Leader of the House of Commons and Deputy Labour leader Harriet Harman on the Equality Bill.

“Stonewall was delighted with the oustanding suppport given by Maria Eagle during the passage of the incitement to hatred legislation and we look forward to working with her on the Equalities brief,” a spokesperson for the gay rights organisation group told

LGBT Labour co-chair Simon Wright said her appointment was welcome.

“Maria has been an excellent champion of for LGBT equality, helping to take Criminal Justice and
Immigration Bill through Parliament.”

The Equality Bill is expected to form part of the government’s programme for the forthcoming session of Parliament.

It includes proposals for all public bodies to promote equality for gay and lesbian people.

The Bill is intended to be an extension of the current duty on public authorities to actively promote equality into services like fostering, magistrates courts and health clinics and to make their services more accessible to lesbian, bisexual and gay people.

Chris Bryant, one of a handful of out gay MPs, has been promoted to Deputy Leader of the House of Commons. He was previously parliamentary private secretary to Ms Harman.

“There is a lot of work to do with reforming the House of Commons so it makes more sense to ordinary voters, so the way we do politics reflects their concerns,” he told the Western Mail.

Stonewall paid tribute to Mrs Follett’s contribution as Equalities minister over the past 15 months.

“Barbara has been a great friend and advocate,” the spokesperson said.

Helen Goodman, who was the previous Deputy Leader of the House, has moved to the Whip’s office.

Ms Eagle has been nominated for a Stonewall Award as Politician of the Year for her work on the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill, which she piloted through the Commons.

It created for the first time an offence of incitement to hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation.

The news of her sister’s intended nuptials was revealed publicly by Ms Harman during a question and answer session at the TUC conference in September.

Health Minister Ben Bradshaw became the first MP to hold a civil partnership ceremony two years ago. He remains in post after this weekend’s reshuffle.

Kevin Brennan, who has been a strong supporter of the fight against homophobic bullying in schools, leaves the Department for Children, Families and Schools for a new job in the Cabinet Office.

Vernon Coaker remains at the Home Office but has been promoted to police minister.

Phil Woolas joins him in Jacqui Smith’s team as immigration minister.

Foreign Office minister Kim Howells and energy minister Malcolm Wicks are to leave the government.

Margaret Hodge is to leave DCMS to care for her sick husband, but may return to office.

Leading leftwing MP Jon Cruddas, who ran for Deputy Leader of the party last year, was reportedly offered the job of housing minister but after a discussion with Gordon Brown declined to join the government.

Another leftwinger, Jon Trickett, is to become parliamentary private secretary to Mr Brown.

Lord Adonis moves to the Department for Transport.

He was education adviser in the Number 10 Policy Unit under Tony Blair from 1998, taking charge of the unit in 2001, before being appointed to the Lords and made an education minister in 2005.

Former Tory MP Quentin Davies, who defected to Labour after Gordon Brown was elected leader, is to take up a junior role in the Ministry of Defence.

Shahid Malik, the first British-born Muslim minister, is to move to the Ministry of Justice.

Mrs Follett leaves her Equalities role for a junior ministerial role at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

Sadiq Khan becomes a minister at Communities and Local Government.

Rising star Kitty Ussher moves from the Treasury to the Department for Work and Pensions. She has been replaced by Ian Pearson, who will take a new joint Treasury/Business position.

Sion Simon and Kevan Jones, who tried to force Tony Blair from office in 2006 along with Mr Bryant, are given junior posts.

Former Cabinet minister Stephen Timms is the new Financial Secretary to the Treasury. It is the third time he has been appointed to that post.

He replaces Jane Kennedy, who becomes a Minister of State at Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Pat McFadden, a close ally of former Prime Minister Tony Blair, is to serve as deputy to Peter Mandelson at the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform.

The return of Mr Mandelson, the only openly gay EU Commissioner, to frontline British politics as Business Secretary has been the main story of Gordon Brown’s reshuffle, which began on Friday.

As Mr Mandelson will take a seat in the Lords, Mr McFadden will speak for BERR in the Commons.

Nick Brown, unlike Mr Mandelson a close ally of the Prime Minister, has been promoted to Chief Whip, but he will not be a member of the Cabinet.

Mr Mandelson’s appointment means that for the first time since 2001 that there is a gay person in the Cabinet.

Mr Brown will attend Cabinet as Chief Whip.

Ed Miliband is to head a new Energy and Climate Change department.

It will take over the energy duties of the Department of Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform and the climate change responsibilities of the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Mike O’Brien and Lord Hunt of Kings Heath will serve as junior ministers in the department.

38-year-old Mr Miliband, who was first elected just three years ago, will be joined in Cabinet by Margaret Beckett, who has served as a minister under Labour Prime Ministers Harold Wilson, James Callaghan and Tony Blair.

Her new role as housing minister allows her to attend Cabinet.

The Defence Secretary is to leave the government.

It is understood that Des Browne was offered another role but turned it down. He was also Secretary of State for Scotland.

John Hutton is the new Secretary of State for Defence. Jim Murphy is the new Scottish Secretary.

Geoff Hoon is to move from Chief Whip to replace Ruth Kelly at Transport.

Ms Kelly is to stand down as an MP at the next election.

The changes in the government are expected to prompt Tory leader David Cameron to reshuffle his frontbench team.