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Thursday, 17 October, 2002, 09:07 GMT 10:07 UK
Gillian Shephard
Gillian Shephard

Date of birth

22 January 1940

Political profile

Gillian Shephard has had a remarkably intense career which has fitted into a few years the full cycle of political life.

She was first elected to the Commons in June 1987 and joined the government the next year as PPS to Peter Lilley.

Mrs Shephard soon became a minister in her own right at the Department of Social Security and, after a stint at the Treasury, joined John Major's cabinet in 1992 as employment secretary.

She remained in the cabinet until the Conservatives' 1997 defeat, most notably as education secretary.

She initially backed Peter Lilley's bid for the leadership in 1997 and sat in William Hague's shadow cabinet for three years before deciding to return to the back benches in 2000.

Mrs Shephard made an unsuccessful attempt to be elected chairman of the 1922 Committee of Tory MPs after the last election.

She backed Ken Clarke's leadership campaign in 2001.

The former minister is regarded as one of the most competent and reliable political operators on the Tory benches and is an undogmatic pragmatist.

She was known as one of the more centrist members of the Major government.

In September 2004, she announced her intention to retire at the next general election.

Contact

Commons office: 020 7219 2898
Constituency office: 01366 385072

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