Page last updated at 12:13 GMT, Tuesday, 7 October 2008 13:13 UK

Lib Dem front bench - Public services

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg has divided his front bench into teams. Here are details of the MPs who will shadow the government on public services issues.

Children, schools and families - David Laws

David Laws

After gaining a double first in maths at Cambridge, David Laws had a high-flying career in banking before entering Parliament in 2001 as MP for Yeovil, the seat of former Lib Dem leader Paddy Ashdown.

He is seen as being on the economically liberal right of the party and was one of the MPs behind The Orange Book - setting out a more free-market approach to Lib Dem policy.

But he rebuffed an attempt by the Conservatives to poach him in March 2007, reportedly telling George Osborne he was "not a Tory".

He impressed Lib Dem leader Sir Menzies Campbell with his mastery of the unglamorous work and pensions brief and was rewarded in the July 2007 reshuffle with the newly-created post of children, schools and families spokesman, which he retained when Nick Clegg became leader.

Health - Norman Lamb

Norman Lamb

Norman Lamb was previously the party's trade and industry spokesman and chief of staff to former leader Sir Menzies Campbell before he appointed him to the health role.

He retained the post when Nick Clegg succeeded his former boss as head of the party.

Originally a Labour supporter, Mr Lamb joined the SDP in the 1980s and became a Lib Dem MP in 2001.

He has been a spokesman on international development and a member of the Treasury select committee.

Communities and local government - Julia Goldsworthy

Julia Goldsworthy

Julia Goldsworthy, was just 26 when she entered Parliament, making her the youngest MP in England.

She has a background in economics and was a Liberal Democrat Treasury adviser from 2003 to 2004, winning her Falmouth and Camborne seat from Labour in the 2005 general election.

After entering the shadow cabinet as health spokesman and then shadowing the chief secretary to the treasury, she moved to communities and local government under Nick Clegg's leadership.

Ms Goldsworthy has also worked for Carrick District Council and as a parliamentary researcher.

Her hobbies include the Cornish sport of gig rowing, squash and running. She boosted her profile in 2006 by taking part in Channel 4 sports-themed reality show The Games.

Housing - Sarah Teather

Sarah Teather

Sarah Teather became an MP at the age of 29 after winning the normally safe Labour seat of Brent East in a by-election in September 2003.

She was given the role of Lib Dem spokeswoman for London and, against many predictions, managed to hold on to her seat at the 2005 general election.

She continued her ascent through the party ranks by taking on the local government brief and then education, becoming innovation, universities and skills spokeswoman when the job was split in two after Gordon Brown's Whitehall shake-up.

She took the business and enterprise portfolio in Nick Clegg's first shadow cabinet but replaced Lembit Opik at housing after he stepped down to concentrate on running for Lib Dem president.

A Cambridge graduate who studied pharmacology, Ms Teather worked for the Macmillan Fund for Cancer Relief and was an Islington councillor before entering Parliament.

Work and pensions - Jenny Willott

Jenny Willott

Cardiff Central MP Jenny Willott took on the work and pensions brief from Danny Alexander in June.

A councillor in London at the age of 23, she later worked in the voluntary sector, the Welsh Assembly and as a chief researcher to Lembit Opik.

She became an MP in 2005, the first Lib Dem to win the seat, and by 2006 she was the party's youth affairs spokeswoman.

She is also the party's deputy chief whip and on the Lib Dem committee looking at benefits and pensions.

Chief of staff - Danny Alexander

Danny Alexander

Danny Alexander, elected to Parliament in 2005 and quickly promoted to the front bench, is one of the Liberal Democrats' fastest-rising stars.

A former press officer with the Scottish Liberal Democrats and PR chief for the Cairngorms National Park, he also spent eight years as a leading light in the European Movement and the now defunct pro-euro campaign, Britain in Europe.

He won the newly-created seat of Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey at the 2005 general election - the old Inverness East seat had been held by Labour.

It later emerged his campaign had received a donation from a Labour peer, Lord Haskins, who described Mr Alexander as a friend. Lord Haskins was later expelled from Labour for breaching party rules.

Innovation, universities and skills - Stephen Williams

Stephen Williams

Stephen Williams became Bristol West's first Lib Dem MP when he wrested the seat from Labour in 2005.

The former tax consultant and Bristol councillor was made a member of the influential public accounts committee.

He has also held public-health and higher-education briefs and been a member of the education and skills committee.

The party's first openly gay MP was given the innovation, universities and skills brief in December 2007.

Lib Dem front bench guide
13 Mar 08 |  Politics
Guide to Parliament: Introduction
11 Oct 07 |  Politics


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