BBC News: Election 2010 BBC News

Page last updated at 20:17 GMT, Wednesday, 12 May 2010 21:17 UK

Cameron coalition: Theresa May made home secretary

"We will be... introducing an annual limit on the number of economic migrants"

Conservative MP Theresa May has become the UK's most senior female politician after being appointed home secretary in the new coalition cabinet.

Mrs May is only the second woman in the post, following Labour's Jacqui Smith between 2008 and 2009.

The 53-year-old MP for Maidenhead was also given the role of Minister for Women and Equality in the Tory/Lib Dem government.

In 2002, Mrs May became the first female Conservative Party chairman.

In her first BBC interview since being appointed, she confirmed identity cards would be scrapped and outlined other key areas in which she would work to deliver the agreed priorities of the Lib Dem and Conservative coalition government.

DNA database

She said: "We will be scrapping ID cards but also introducing an annual cap on the number of migrants coming into the UK from outside the European union."

She said there was a "process to be gone through" to decide the annual limit. The coalition government was committed to introducing elected police commissioners and cutting police paperwork to "give the police more time on the streets," she added.

On the DNA database, she said: "We are absolutely clear we need to make some changes in relation to the DNA database. For example one of the first things we will do is to ensure that all the people who have actually been convicted of a crime and are not present on it are actually on the DNA database.

"The last government did not do that. It focused on retaining the DNA data of people who were innocent. Let's actually make sure that those who have been found guilty are actually on that database."

In last week's general election, Mrs May retained her seat in Maidenhead with a safe majority of nearly 17,000. She has been the MP there since 1997.

Prior to the election, Mrs May was the shadow work and pensions minister.

The former local councillor has previously held a number of shadow minister posts, including education and transport, local government and regions briefs.

National security

She became shadow minister for women in 2007 and had been a prominent advocate of positive action to recruit more women Tories to winnable seats.

A passionate moderniser with a famously exotic taste in shoes, she ruffled feathers when she told Tory activists at the 2002 party conference that they were seen as members of the "nasty party".

Born in Eastbourne, East Sussex, she attended a comprehensive school in Wheatley in Oxford and went on to read geography at Oxford University.

She once worked at the Bank of England, and rose to become head of the European Affairs Unit of the Association for Payment Clearing Services.

She has been married to Philip May since 1980 but the couple do not have any children.

As part of her new role, she will be responsible for national security and will need to win the support of police officers in England and Wales - at a time when funding is set to be constrained.

The Police Federation has congratulated her and said its members were willing to work with her.

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