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Foster was born in Liverpool and educated at Prescot Girls' Grammar School. She joined British European Airways' which became British Airways. She was a member of the Transport and General Workers' Union and from 1976 to 1979 served as trade union representative for cabin crew. In 1975 she married Peter Foster, but they divorced in 1981.
That same year, Foster left British Airways to be Area Manager (Austria) for Horizon Tours, a holiday company. After four years she returned to British Airways, again as cabin crew. In 1989, she was one of the founder members of Cabin Crew '89, an independent trade union which broke away from the TGWU, and served on the union executive.
Foster combined her trade union activities with active membership of the Conservative Party; she was Vice Chairman of Twickenham Conservative Association. In the 1992 general election, she was the Conservative candidate in Newham South, a Labour-held seat in east London. Against the national trend, Foster cut the Labour majority. She was shortlisted as candidate for Eastleigh in the byelection of 1994 but lost out in selection. At the 2005 Conservative Party conference she declared her opposition to all-woman shortlists.
She continued to look for selection and in November 1995 was narrowly beaten by Eric Forth in the selection for Bromley and Chislehurst. In August 1996 she succeeded in being selected for Peterborough, where sitting Conservative MP Brian Mawhinney was moving to the adjacent seat. She moved to Peterborough to fight the campaign; she was among the conservative candidates at that election who declared their personal opposition to the single European currency, but was defeated by Labour candidate Helen Brinton.
Work as an MEP
In her first term she was a Member of the Industry committee and was the Conservative Spokesman on Transport & Tourism. Foster tried to seek a ruling under European transport directives that the Mersey Tunnels Bill was illegal; the Bill allowed the Merseyside Passenger Transport Executive to make regular increases in the tolls for the tunnels, and to spend the money on transport elsewhere in Merseyside.
Following 9/11 Foster acted as rapporteur for a Regulation which introduced harmonised security rules across Europe. This included new rules which meant that airport staff be security screened when entering secure areas. The European Parliament agreed but the European Council of Ministers put off negotiations due to opposition by the governments of the Netherlands, Austria, Finland and Germany. Nevertheless, the legislation went through. She supported moves to require airlines to compensate passengers 'bumped' from flights. In March 2003 she pointed out that the laws requiring children to wear seatbelts did not apply on school buses.
Defeat and Reelection
Foster was reselected to fight the 2004 European Parliament election in fourth position on the Conservative list, so was not re-elected when the Conservatives won only three seats. Having specialised in the aviation sector, she worked for and represented the aerospace, space & defence industries in Brussels between 2005 - 2009.
In 2009 she was placed third on the Conservative list for the North West region in the European Parliament election and was elected once again as an MEP, with the Conservatives winning three seats for a second time. She was, again, appointed as the Transport Spokesman and also served as a Vice President of the Sky & Space and Animal Welfare Parliamentary Intergroups and as a Member of the EU-US. Delegation. She was elected as Deputy Leader of the Conservative MEPs in 2013.
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