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Last Updated: Friday, 5 May 2006, 18:35 GMT 19:35 UK
Profile: Jacqui Smith
Jacqui Smith
Jacqui Smith is a former economics teacher
The government's new chief whip will be asked to make the government whips' office more efficient following a series of embarrassments.

Her predecessor Hilary Armstrong was wrong-footed when the government was defeated by one vote that of Prime Minister Tony Blair - in a Commons division on plans to introduce a new offence of inciting religious hatred.

Conservative MPs kept a low profile before the vote while the chief whip was accused of not appreciating the scale of the Labour rebellion when she "allowed" Mr Blair to miss the vote.

Mr Blair will be keen for Jacqui Smith to win the respect of back benchers with a tendency to revolt.

Former teacher

One of the most quickly promoted of the 1997 intake, Ms Smith joined the government within two years of being elected to the Commons.

A former economics teacher, the government made conscious use of her experience; she initially served on the Commons treasury select committee before joining the Department for Education and Employment as school standards minister.

After the 2001 election she became a minister of state at the Department of Health.

And in the June 2003 reshuffle she became a Department of Trade and Industry minister and deputy minister for women.

In her role as deputy minister for women, she published government proposals for civil partnerships.

In May 2005, Ms Smith was appointed schools minister.

She is seen as loyal to New Labour - she is one of the most committed of the party's modernisers and even in her time on Redditch borough council, was a strong supporter of Tony Blair.


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