Maria Miller

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The Right Honourable
Maria Miller
MP
Maria Miller Official.jpg
Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport
In office
4 September 2012 – 9 April 2014
Prime Minister David Cameron
Preceded by Jeremy Hunt
Succeeded by Sajid Javid
Minister for Women and Equalities
In office
4 September 2012 – 9 April 2014
Prime Minister David Cameron
Preceded by Theresa May
Succeeded by Nicky Morgan (Women)
Sajid Javid (Equalities)
Undersecretary of State for Disabled People
In office
12 May 2010 – 4 September 2012
Prime Minister David Cameron
Preceded by Jonathan Shaw
Succeeded by Esther McVey
Member of Parliament
for Basingstoke
Incumbent
Assumed office
5 May 2005
Preceded by Andrew Hunter
Majority 13,176 (26%)
Personal details
Born Maria Frances Lewis
(1964-03-26) 26 March 1964 (age 50)
Wolverhampton, Staffordshire, England
Political party Conservative
Spouse(s) Iain Miller (1990–present)
Children 1 daughter
2 sons
Alma mater London School of Economics
Religion Anglicanism
Website Official website

Maria Frances Lewis Miller (born 26 March 1964) is a British Conservative Party politician who has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Basingstoke since 2005.[1] She was the Minister for Disabled People from 2010 to 2012, and from 2012 to 2014 a member of the Cabinet as Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport and Minister for Women and Equalities.[2] Miller was forced by public opinion to resign from the cabinet in April 2014 because she had over-claimed expenses which the general public believed to have been a deliberate act of fraud.[3]

Early life[edit]

The daughter of John Lewis, she was born in Wolverhampton, but was brought up in Bridgend, South Wales.[4] She was educated at the Brynteg Comprehensive School before reading Economics at the London School of Economics from where she graduated in 1985.[1] She joined Greys Advertising Ltd as an advertising executive, leaving in 1990 to become a marketing manager with Texaco. She rejoined Greys in 1994 and served for five years as a director, before becoming a director for the Rowland Group in 1999 for four years.[1]

Parliamentary career[edit]

Miller joined the Conservative Party in 1983 and contested Wolverhampton North East at the 2001 general election but was defeated by the sitting Labour MP, Ken Purchase. She has served as the chairman of Wolverhampton North East Conservative Association since 2001.[1] She was chair of the Wimbledon Conservative Association for a year from 2002.[1]

Miller was first elected to the House of Commons at the 2005 general election following the retirement of the former Conservative MP, Andrew Hunter, who had defected to the Northern Ireland Democratic Unionist Party before he stepped down. In Parliament she served for a year from 2005 as a member of the Trade and Industry Select Committee. Later in 2005, David Cameron appointed her a spokesperson for the Shadow Education and Skills team. She was appointed Shadow Minister for Families in 2007.[1] Following the 2010 general election she was appointed Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State and Minister for Disabled People at the Department for Work and Pensions.

In May 2012 she urged the Prime Minister to continue with proposals to introduce same-sex marriage in England and Wales, despite either voting against or being absent for "all major LGBT rights votes" since becoming an MP.[5]

On 4 September 2012, Miller was appointed Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport and Minister for Women and Equality in David Cameron's first major Cabinet reshuffle.[6]

In February 2013 she was assessed as the 17th most powerful woman in the United Kingdom by Woman's Hour on BBC Radio 4.[7]

Expenses claims[edit]

Miller speaking in 2012

In December 2012, The Daily Telegraph reported that, between 2005 and 2009, Miller had claimed over £90,000 in parliamentary expenses for the mortgage and upkeep of a house in south London where her parents lived.[8] She was subsequently reported to Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards John Lyon by MP John Mann,[9] and an inquiry was launched into the claims.[10][11] Lyon's term as commissioner finished at the end of the December,[12] thus it would essentially be his successor, Kathryn Hudson, who undertook the investigation.

Alistair Graham, who chaired the Committee on Standards in Public Life during 2003–07, said Miller's position as Culture Secretary would be "untenable" if Hudson found her guilty, recalling the "very similar" 2009 case of Tony McNulty, who resigned his ministerial positions.[13] He also noted how Miller "struggled" in an interview with the Evening Standard to explain why she stopped claiming in 2009, just as the parliamentary expenses scandal exploded.[14]

Miller responded to the reports by stating that her "financial arrangements" had been audited on two occasions since she became an MP and no issues had been found with them,[8][15] and that her parents lived with her as "dependents" under Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority rules.[16] Prime Minister David Cameron was satisfied with her "excellent" explanation.[10]

Shortly after the Telegraph broke the story on Miller's expenses, it emerged that both Cameron's spokesman, Craig Oliver, and Miller's special advisor, Joanna Hindley, had phoned the newspaper prior to publication in an attempt to warn it off. According to the paper, the pair issued a veiled threat by reminding it of Miller's role in enacting proposals in the Leveson report on press regulation.[17] Downing Street denied that any threats were made.[18] The newspaper later released the recording they had made of Hindley's call.[19]

Hudson's investigation lasted more than a year, and was handed in to the Commons Select Committee on Standards in February 2014.[20] In it, the standards commissioner had concluded Miller had been in the wrong, and recommended she pay back £45,000.[21][22] On 3 April 2014, however, the MPs of the Standards Committee decided their commissioner had been too strict,[23] overruling her and ordering Miller to repay instead £5,800 of wrongly claimed expenses and make a statement in the House of Commons to apologise for her "legalistic" lack of co-operation with the committee.[24] She made her Commons statement the same day; the apology lasted just 32 seconds.[25][26]

Miller was believed to be the first serving minister to be forced to apologise for their misuse of expenses.[27] David Cameron expressed his "full, strong, very warm support" for her.[28]

Unfortunately for Miller, the row did not die down, and her case was referred to the police by MP Thomas Docherty;[29] Cameron expressed his wish for the press to leave the matter alone.[30] On 4 April it was reported that Miller had even attempted to intervene in the investigation into her, telling Kathryn Hudson "that she was acting outside the law and threatening to refer her to a Commons committee".[31] Alistair Graham described Miller's intervention and threats as "fairly exceptional", "pretty shocking".[32]

The continuing saga and the perfunctory nature of her apology led to Miller haemorrhaging support from her own party.[33] On 6 April, Labour's John Mann said, "It is quite astonishing that Maria Miller remains in the Cabinet".[34] Many within her own party, including senior figures, also publicly criticised her.[35][36][37][38][39][40] The Sunday Telegraph found no grassroots Tory support for Miller either,[41] something forcefully underlined by Ben Harris-Quinney, director of Conservative Grassroots.[42] Some Conservative Party criticism was reputedly revenge by the less socially-liberal elements within it for her helping drive through the legalisation of gay marriage.[43] Some senior figures were less hostile,[44][45] and Miller also found support among the more liberal "One Nation" grouping of Tory MPs, of which she is a member.[46]

In a further twist, documents emerged suggesting Miller had stopped claiming expenses on her second home in Wimbledon to avoid paying capital gains tax in the event of its sale. When she did sell it, in February 2014, it was at a profit of £1 million; capital gains tax at the time was 28%. Miller refused to confirm that she would pay capital gains tax on the sale.[47]

On 8 April, in her weekly column for her local newspaper, Miller declared to her constituents that she was "devastated" to have let them down.[48] However, Betty Boothroyd, Commons Speaker between 1992 and 2000, accused Miller of "bringing Parliament into disrepute" and said that in her view the Prime Minister should have sought Miller's resignation.[49]

On 9 April 2014, Miller resigned from the cabinet,[50] but did not apologise in her resignation letter. David Cameron, who had a meeting planned that day in which he was again going to tell Tory MPs that he would not be forced into sacking Miller,[46] expressed "sadness" over her stepping down, and said he hoped she would be able to return to the front bench "in due course".[51] Indeed, the prime minister's decisive support appeared to have remained steadfast throughout,[42][52] something for which he was criticised.[53] However, Miller's successor, Sajid Javid, said that "the public were right to judge her on how she responded, there's absolutely nothing wrong with that", and it was important for Miller to "accept she did wrong".[54]

Personal life[edit]

Miller and her husband Iain, a solicitor, were married in 1990. They have two sons and a daughter.[1][55]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g ‘MILLER, Rt Hon. Maria (Frances Lewis)’, Who's Who 2013, A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc, 2013; online edn, Oxford University Press, December 2012; online edn, November 2012 accessed 13 December 2012
  2. ^ Maria Miller MP to head Culture, Media and Sport department in UK Government, Basingstoke Gazette, 4 September 2012. Retrieved 13 December 2012.
  3. ^ http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-26951464
  4. ^ Maria Miller, The Conservative Party - profile. Retrieved 13 December 2012.
  5. ^ Britain shifts equalities role and makes gay man schools minister, Gay Star News, 4 September 2012. Retrieved 13 December 2012.
  6. ^ Maria Miller becomes culture secretary, The Guardian, 4 September 2012, Retrieved 11 December 2012.
  7. ^ BBC Radio 4, Woman's Hour Power list
  8. ^ a b Watt, Holly; Newell, Claire (10 December 2012). "MPs' expenses: Culture Secretary Maria Miller's £90,000 claims for parents' home". telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 5 April 2014. 
  9. ^ Watt, Holly; Newell, Claire (11 December 2012). "MPs' expenses: Maria Miller reported to MP watchdog over £90,000 expenses claims". telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 5 April 2014. 
  10. ^ a b Watt, Nicholas (14 December 2012). "Maria Miller faces parliamentary investigation into her expenses". theguardian.com. Retrieved 5 April 2014. 
  11. ^ Maria Miller expenses inquiry launched, BBC news website, 13 December 2012. Retrieved 13 December 2012.
  12. ^ "Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards". Hansard. 12 September 2012. Retrieved 5 April 2014. 
  13. ^ Mason, Rowena (14 December 2013). "Sir Alistair Graham: Maria Miller job 'untenable' if she broke expenses rules". telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 5 April 2014. 
  14. ^ Mason, Rowena (14 December 2013). "Sir Alistair Graham: Maria Miller job 'untenable' if she broke expenses rules". telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 5 April 2014. 

    The interview is here; she said: "Because I think there was a lot of concern about the rules and, er, a lot of concern about, you know, the whole issue, and it's something I felt that I didn't want to be, sort of, mixed up in, the fact that I  … I just made that decision."

  15. ^ Interview - PM, BBC radio 4, 11 December 2012. Sky News. Retrieved 11 December 2012.
  16. ^ "Maria Miller Under Fire For Expense Claims". 11 December 2012. Sky news,. Retrieved 5 April 2014.
  17. ^ Watt, Nicholas (12 December 2012). "Downing Street and Daily Telegraph at war over Maria Miller allegations". theguardian.com. Retrieved 5 April 2014. 
  18. ^ "No 10 denies 'threats' made over Daily Telegraph probe". BBC News (BBC). 12 December 2012. Retrieved 12 December 2012. 
  19. ^ "Maria Miller expenses report: Listen to Telegraph reporter's phone call with special adviser Joanna Hindley". 4 April 2014. telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 5 April 2014.
  20. ^ Swinford, Steven; Watt, Holly; Newell, Claire (16 February 2014). "MPs' expenses: Maria Miller criticised for £90,000 claim by parliamentary watchdog". telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 5 April 2014. 
  21. ^ Elliott, Francis; Savage, Michael (4 April 2014). "Fury grows as expenses minister Maria Miller clings to job". The Times. Retrieved 4 April 2014. 
  22. ^ Dominiczak, Peter et al. (3 April 2014). "Maria Miller expenses report: MPs conspired to save Culture Secretary". telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 4 April 2014. 
  23. ^ "Maria Miller expenses report: rights and wrongs of minister's claims". 5 April 2014. telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 9 April 2014.
  24. ^ "Maria Miller ordered to repay £5,800 and apologise to MPs". BBC News (BBC). 3 April 2014. Retrieved 3 April 2014. 
  25. ^ "Maria Miller apologises to MPs over her response to expenses inquiry: Politics live blog". Retrieved 3 April 2014. 
  26. ^ "Personal Statement". Hansard. TheyWorkForYou. 3 April 2014. Retrieved 6 April 2014. 
  27. ^ Syal, Rajeev (3 April 2014). "Culture secretary Maria Miller apologises over mortgage expenses". theguardian.com. Retrieved 4 April 2014. 
  28. ^ Stacey, Kiran (3 April 2014). "Miller apologises to parliament over excess expenses claims". ft.com. Retrieved 4 April 2014. 
  29. ^ Evans, Martin (4 April 2014). "Met asked to investigate Maria Miller - letter in full". telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 4 April 2014. 
  30. ^ Watt, Nicholas; Syal, Rajeev (4 April 2014). "Maria Miller's expenses claims referred to police by Labour MP". theguardian.com. Retrieved 4 April 2014. 
  31. ^ Watt, Nicholas; Syal, Rajeev (4 April 2014). "Maria Miller threatened watchdog in attempt to limit investigation". theguardian.com. Retrieved 4 April 2014. 
  32. ^ Dominiczak, Peter et al. (5 April 2014). "Maria Miller's behaviour is shocking, claims former chairman of Standards Committee". telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 5 April 2014. 
  33. ^ Helm, Toby (5 April 2014). "Maria Miller's support ebbs away over lack of contrition". theguardian.com. Retrieved 5 April 2014. 
  34. ^ "Maria Miller row: Cameron faces questions, Labour says". 5 April 2014. BBC News. Retrieved 7 April 2014.
  35. ^ Mendick, Robert et al. (5 April 2014). "Maria Miller must go over expenses claims, says senior minister". telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 6 April 2014. 
  36. ^ Tebbit, Norman (6 April 2014). "The arrogant and greedy Maria Miller should do the decent thing and resign". telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 6 April 2014. 
  37. ^ Kirkup, James; Hope, Christopher; Holehouse, Matthew (7 April 2014). "Tory MPs call for Miller to be sacked". telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 8 April 2014. 
  38. ^ Dominiczak, Peter; Graham, Georgia (8 April 2014). "Maria Miller: 'I'm surprised she hasn't resigned', says senior Tory MP". telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 9 April 2014. 
  39. ^ "Esther McVey appears to question Maria Miller apology" 8 April 2014. telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 9 April 2014.
  40. ^ Mason, Rowena (8 April 2014). "Maria Miller row: Tories step up pressure on culture secretary". theguardian.com. Retrieved 9 April 2014. 
  41. ^ Barrett, David; Lazarus, Ben (5 April 2014). "Maria Miller should resign, say grassroots Conservatives". telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 6 April 2014. 
  42. ^ a b Watt, Nicholas (6 April 2014). "David Cameron at odds with top Tories as pressure grows on Maria Miller". theguardian.com. Retrieved 6 April 2014. 
  43. ^ Watt, Nicholas (6 April 2014). "Maria Miller faces resentment over Leveson and same-sex marriages". theguardian.com. Retrieved 9 April 2014. 
  44. ^ Watt, Nicholas (6 April 2014). "Iain Duncan Smith: Maria Miller row at risk of becoming witch-hunt". theguardian.com. Retrieved 6 April 2014. 
  45. ^ Payne, Samantha (9 April 2014). "Michael Gove: Resignation 'Entirely Maria Miller's Decision'". International Business Times UK. Retrieved 9 April 2014. 
  46. ^ a b Parker, George; Rigby, Elizabeth (9 April 2014). "Maria Miller expenses row nears climax". ft.com. Retrieved 9 April 2014. 
  47. ^ Watt, Holly; Dominiczak, Peter (6 April 2014). "Maria Miller faces questions over tax on home sale". telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 7 April 2014. 
  48. ^ Bave, Jessica (8 April 2014). "Basingstoke MP Maria Miller 'devastated' over expenses saga". basingstokegazette.co.uk. Retrieved 9 April 2014. 
  49. ^ "Maria Miller 'devastated' by expenses row". 8 April 2014. BBC News. Retrieved 9 April 2014.
  50. ^ "Maria Miller quits as culture secretary after expenses row". 9 April 2014. BBC News. Retrieved 9 April 2014.
  51. ^ Aglionby, John (9 April 2014). "Maria Miller resigns as culture secretary". ft.com. Retrieved 9 April 2014. 
  52. ^ Staff and agencies (7 April 2014). "Maria Miller expenses row: David Cameron reiterates his support". theguardian.com. Retrieved 7 April 2014. 
  53. ^ Editorial (9 April 2014). "Misplaced loyalties and Maria Miller". ft.com. Retrieved 9 April 2014. 
  54. ^ http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/apr/11/sajid-javid-maria-miller-bbc-question-time
  55. ^ Debrett's People of Today information

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Jonathan Shaw
Member of Parliament
for Basingstoke

2005–present
Incumbent
Political offices
Preceded by
Jonathan Shaw
Undersecretary of State for Disabled People
2010–2012
Succeeded by
Esther McVey
Preceded by
Theresa May
Minister for Women and Equalities
2012–2014
Succeeded by
Nicky Morgan
as Minister for Women
Succeeded by
Sajid Javid
as Secretary of State for Culture, Media, Sport and Equalities
Preceded by
Jeremy Hunt
Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport
2012–2014