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Monday, 11 June, 2001, 14:41 GMT 15:41 UK
Jowell's new cultural role
Tessa Jowell, minister for Culture, Media and Sport
Jowell: Identified with family and community issues
As Tessa Jowell takes up her new position as culture secretary, BBC News Online profiles the woman who is replacing Chris Smith.

Despite criticism over the Wembley stadium project and the Millennium Dome, Chris Smith was regarded as a man committed to his arts brief.

By contrast Tessa Jowell, 53, has been identified with family and community issues.

Born in London, Jowell was educated at St Margaret's school in Aberdeen and went to university in Aberdeen, Edinburgh and London.

After an early career as a child care officer and psychiatric social worker, the doctor's daughter worked as assistant director of the mental health charity Mind from 1974-86.

The Royal Family
Jowell will supervise 2002's coronation jubilee
She has been a company director and a social worker, and has a total of five children: one daughter, one son and three stepchildren.

And Jowell also served as a councillor at the London Borough of Camden from 1971-86.

Jowell fought and lost the Ilford North by-election in 1978, and was elected as MP for Dulwich in 1992, and Dulwich and West Norwood in 1997.

She became public health minister in the same year after Labour's landslide election win.

Women's unit

As minister for public health, she was embroiled controversy over the Bernie Ecclestone affair, after it was revealed that her lawyer husband had links with motor racing.

The government gave Formula One motor racing an exemption from the ban on tobacco advertising after its boss, Mr Ecclestone, gave an anonymous 1m donation to the Labour Party.

Jowell was moved after two years at the ministry of health to take over responsibility for implementing the New Deal jobs programme.

And she was also given the extra task of heading up the government's women's unit alongside Baroness Jay.


She has listed her special interests as the Human Rights Act, community care and electoral reform.

But her Who's Who entry also lists "music" as one of her personal interests.

Last year she was so concerned at the possible link between skinny models and eating disorders that she held a summit meeting at Downing Street with the bosses of a top modelling agency and a teenage magazine.

Her department will now be taking over responsibility for gambling, licensing laws, censorship and video classification - and horseracing.

In her first public pronouncement on her new role, she told GMTV's Alastair Stewart: "This is about leisure, it is about free time.


"And there is an enormously powerful opportunity to help people improve the quality of their lives and the quality of their leisure time.

"I think a lot of people feel that they want to have more control over the balance between their working lives and the time they have for leisure," she said.

Jowell seems set to inherit the DCMS view that the creative industries should be recognised as a major foreign currency earner, as she told GMTV: "The creative industries are part of the generation of our national wealth."

The minister will also inherit responsibility for the Queen's Jubilee celebrations in 2002.

Jowell told GMTV she wanted the Jubilee to be a "national celebration".

"I remember the Silver Jubilee, it was about street parties, local celebration, communities coming together - and I think that's the spirit that we'll want to see recaptured," she said.

See also:

11 Jun 01 | TV and Radio
Tessa tackles in-tray
09 Jun 01 | Vote2001
Ministers get down to work
09 Jun 01 | Features
Sisters are doing it
06 Jun 01 | Forum
Chris Smith quizzed
08 Jun 01 | Vote2001
Cabinet changes: At-a-glance
05 Mar 01 | Key People
Chris Smith: Culture, Media & Sport
17 Jun 98 | Entertainment
Chris Smith reveals his Private Passions
10 Apr 00 | UK Politics
Government 'summit' over thin models
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