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She has held the rank of Minister of State at both the Government Equalities Office and the Ministry of Justice. She was previously a Minister at the Department for Work and Pensions, the Department for Education and Skills, and the Northern Ireland Office. After the 2010 general election she became the Shadow Solicitor General. On 8 October 2010, Eagle was announced as the Shadow Secretary of State for Transport in Ed Miliband's new shadow cabinet. She is, as of 7 October 2013, Shadow Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
Eagle was born in Bridlington, East Riding of Yorkshire. The daughter of a printworker, she was educated at St Peter's Church of England School in Formby and Formby High School before attending Pembroke College, Oxford, where she was awarded a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics in 1983.
She then went to The College of Law, London, where she took her law finals in 1990. She was a solicitor in the voluntary sector from 1983, before she joined Brian Thompson & Partners in Liverpool as an articled clerk in 1990. In 1992 she became a solicitor with Goldsmith Williams in Liverpool, and later the senior solicitor at Steven Irving & Co also in Liverpool, where she remained until her election to Westminster. Before entering parliament, Eagle concentrated on housing issues whilst a solicitor.
Eagle joined the Labour Party in 1978, and was elected the secretary of the Crosby Constituency Labour Party (CLP) for two years in 1983, and was also elected as the campaigns organiser with that CLP for three years in 1993. She unsuccessfully contested the Crosby seat at the 1992 general election where she was defeated by the sitting Conservative MP Malcolm Thornton by 14,806 votes.
For the following election Eagle was selected to stand for Labour in Garston through an all-women shortlist. She was elected to the House of Commons at the 1997 general election at Liverpool Garston following the retirement of the veteran Labour MP Edward Loyden. Eagle held the seat with a majority of 18,417 and remained the MP until the constituency was abolished in 2010. She made her maiden speech on 17 June 1997.
In parliament Eagle was a member of the Public Accounts Committee following her initial election, and in 1999 she was appointed the Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Minister of State at the Department of Health, John Hutton. She was promoted to the Tony Blair government following the 2001 general election as a Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Work and Pensions, and after the 2005 general election, she was the Minister for Children at the Department for Education and Skills, until the May 2006 reshuffle moved her to Northern Ireland, where she was Minister for more than one department at a time, including a period at the Department for Employment and Learning, on 29 June 2007 she moved to the Ministry of Justice. As part of the reshuffle of Gordon Brown's government in October 2008, she assumed additional responsibility for the Government Equalities Office. In the June 2009 reshuffle she was promoted to Minister of State within the justice department.
When she was first elected to parliament in 1997 she joined her twin sister, Angela Eagle, who had been elected at the previous parliament, to serve as one of the first set of twins in the House of Commons. Another set of sisters, Sylvia Heal and Ann Keen, had both been elected at the 1997 election, also, meaning that neither pair of sisters holds the record for being the first.
After Labour lost the 2010 general election she served in interim Labour leader Harriet Harman's front bench as Shadow Solicitor General and Shadow Justice Minister. In October 2010 Eagle was elected to the Shadow Cabinet of new Labour Party leader Ed Miliband as Shadow Secretary of State for Transport in the Labour Party Shadow Cabinet election.
Maria Eagle was nominated for the Stonewall Politician of the Year Award in 2008 for her work to support equality for lesbian, gay and bisexual people. She was given a score of 93% in favour of lesbian, gay and bisexual equality by Stonewall. On 5 February 2013 MP Maria Eagle voted in favour in the House of Commons Second Reading vote on marriage equality in Britain.
On 17 May 2009 The Daily Telegraph revealed that Eagle had claimed £3,500 for the refurbishment of the bathroom of her Liverpool home property, then switched her second home designation to a different property just four months later. Eagle voted in favour of legislation which would have kept MPs' expenses information secret.
- Opposition Front Bench Labour Party
- "The Biography of Angela Eagle". Angela Eagle. 2008. Retrieved 17 October 2010.
- Biography - Maria Eagle UK Parliament
- Rentoul, John; Ward, Stephen; MacIntyre, Donald (9 January 1996). "Labour blow as all-women lists outlawed". The Independent (London).
- Hansard Debates for 17 June 1997 UK Parliament
- Hansard Debates for 05 Mar 1999 UK Parliament
- Thornberry among new Labour front benchers ePolitix.com, 28 May 2010
- Cooper tops shadow cabinet vote BBC News, 7 October 2010
- Shaw, Milly (23 September 2008). "Stonewall Awards shortlist announced". Lesbilicious. Retrieved 27 February 2013.
- "Stonewall MP Voting Records 2010 (Voting on key gay equality issues in Parliament, 2005 to date" (PDF). p. 6. Retrieved 27 February 2013.
- "House of Commons Hansard Debates for 05 Feb 2013 (pt 0004)". 5 Feb 2013 : Column 231. Retrieved 27 February 2013.
- Sawer, Patrick (17 May 2009). "Maria Eagle: bathroom renovated on expenses before flat was 'flipped'". Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 12 May 2010.
- Wynne-Jones, Ros (13 June 2009). "Yes, twinister: Meet political sister act.. Angela and Maria Eagle". Mirror.co.uk (London: MGN Limited). Retrieved 17 October 2010.
- High Time or High Tide for Labour Women? by Maria Eagle and Joni Lovenduski, 1998, Fabian Society Books, ISBN 0-7163-0585-2, OCLC 39267019
- Maria Eagle MP official website
- Profile at Parliament of the United Kingdom
- Contributions in Parliament at Hansard 1803–2005
- Current session contributions in Parliament at Hansard
- Electoral history and profile at The Guardian
- Voting record at Public Whip
- Record in Parliament at TheyWorkForYou
- Profile at Westminster Parliamentary Record
- Profile at BBC News Democracy Live
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
|Member of Parliament
for Liverpool Garston
|New constituency||Member of Parliament
for Garston and Halewood
|Undersecretary of State for Disabled People
|Undersecretary of State for Children and Families
|Shadow Solicitor General for England and Wales
|Shadow Secretary of State for Transport
|Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs