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|The Right Honourable
|Secretary of State for Health|
5 May 2005 – 27 June 2007
|Prime Minister||Tony Blair|
|Preceded by||John Reid|
|Succeeded by||Alan Johnson|
|Secretary of State for Trade and Industry|
8 June 2001 – 5 May 2005
|Prime Minister||Tony Blair|
|Preceded by||Stephen Byers|
|Succeeded by||Alan Johnson|
|Minister for Women|
8 June 2001 – 5 May 2005
|Prime Minister||Tony Blair|
|Preceded by||The Baroness Jay of Paddington|
|Succeeded by||Tessa Jowell|
|Economic Secretary to the Treasury|
27 July 1998 – 17 May 1999
|Prime Minister||Tony Blair|
|Preceded by||Helen Liddell|
|Succeeded by||Melanie Johnson|
|Member of Parliament
for Leicester West
1 May 1997 – 6 May 2010
|Preceded by||Greville Janner|
|Succeeded by||Liz Kendall|
2 December 1948 |
|Political party||Labour (Suspended)|
|Spouse(s)||David Julian Gibson-Watt (1970–1978), Bill Birtles (1981–present)|
|Alma mater||Australian National University
Nuffield College, Oxford
Newnham College, Cambridge
Originally a Tory, Hewitt soon became a high-profile left-winger and supporter of Tony Benn, being classified by MI5 as a communist sympathiser. After nine years as General Secretary of the National Council for Civil Liberties, she became press secretary to Neil Kinnock, whom she assisted in the "modernisation" of the Labour Party. In 1997, she became the first female MP for Leicester West, a safe Labour seat, which she represented for thirteen years.
In 2001, she joined Blair's cabinet as Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, before becoming Health Secretary in 2005, chiefly remembered for getting smoking banned in public places, against heavy opposition. Hewitt has sparked many controversies, notably her selection of a female job-applicant over a stronger male candidate, and her theory that fathers may not be a useful influence in the upbringing of children.
In March 2010, Hewitt was suspended from the Parliamentary Labour Party over the question of political lobbying irregularities, alleged by the Channel 4 Dispatches programme.
- 1 Background
- 2 Pre-Parliamentary career
- 3 Parliamentary career
- 4 Secretary of State for Trade and Industry
- 5 Secretary of State for Health
- 6 Retirement from the cabinet
- 7 After Cabinet – Consultancies and Directorships
- 8 Stepping down
- 9 Dispatches Lobbyist investigation
- 10 Publications
- 11 References
- 12 External links
Born in Canberra, Australia, she is the daughter of Sir Lenox Hewitt (b. 1917), a leading civil servant (Secretary of the Australian Prime Minister's Department, and later chairman of Qantas), and Lady (Hope) Hewitt (1915–2011). She was educated at Canberra Girls' Grammar School (formerly Canberra Church of England Girls' Grammar School), and the Australian National University. She went on to study at both Newnham College, Cambridge and Nuffield College, Oxford where she was awarded two master's degrees. She speaks French and is a keen gardener.
Initially a Conservative, she married David Julian Gibson-Watt, second son of David Gibson Watt, Conservative MP for Hereford, and Diana Hambro, in 1970. They were divorced in 1978. By this time she had moved to the left, becoming a committed feminist. MI5 classified her a "Communist sympathiser" in the 1970s because of her relationship with William (Bill) Jack Birtles, a lawyer. In 1981, she married Birtles in Camden; they have a daughter (born September 1986) and a son (born February 1988). In 1971, she became Age Concern's Press and Public Relations Officer, before joining the UK's National Council for Civil Liberties (now Liberty) initially as a women's rights officer in 1973, and for nine years from 1974 as the general secretary.
In 1990 the Council of Europe ruled MI5 surveillance had breached the European Convention of Human Rights. She was a member of the advisory panel of the New Statesman magazine for ten years from 1980, and is a former school governor at the Kentish Town Primary School.
Hewitt joined the Labour Party in the 1970s, and was initially a follower of Tony Benn; she publicly condemned those left-wing MPs who abstained in the deputy leadership election of 1981, giving Denis Healey a narrow victory. She was selected as the Labour candidate in Leicester East constituency at the 1983 General Election following the defection of the sitting Labour MP Tom Bradley to the Social Democratic Party. Bradley stood for the SDP at the election, but it was the Conservative candidate Peter Bruinvels who beat Hewitt into second place by just 933 votes.
Following her defeat in Leicester, she became press secretary to the Leader of the Opposition Neil Kinnock. (She had sent a letter to Kinnock claiming to fully support his leadership bid and lobbying for the role, yet also sent an identical letter to Kinnock's opponent in the Labour leadership election, Roy Hattersley.) In this role she was a key player in the first stages of the 'modernisation' of the Labour Party, and along with Lord Hollick, helped set up the Institute for Public Policy Research and was its deputy director 1989–1994. She became head of research with Andersen Consulting, remaining in the post during the period 1994–1997.
Hewitt was elected to the House of Commons as the first female MP for Leicester West at the 1997 General Election following the retirement of the veteran Labour MP Greville Janner. She was elected with a majority of 12,864 and remained the constituency MP until stepping down in 2010. She made her maiden speech on 3 July 1997. Hewitt's constituency of Leicester West is considered a safe Labour seat, with a majority of 9,070 votes in the 2005 General Election.
In Parliament she served for a year as a member of the social security select committee from 1997 before becoming a member of the government of Tony Blair in his first reshuffle in 1998 as the Economic Secretary to the Treasury. She was promoted in 1999 to become a Minister of State for Small Business and E-Commerce at the Department of Trade and Industry, and created the Social Enterprise Unit for similar new companies.
She joined the Blair Cabinet for the first time following the 2001 General Election as the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry and Minister for Women and Equality. She spent four years in this post and was seen as a fairly effective Trade and Industry Secretary despite controversial policies effecting her own constituency. However, she was seen as lacking leadership, particularly on consumer issues. Hewitt was then moved sideways to Health Secretary in May 2005.
Hewitt was known as a reliable Blairite within the cabinet and voted loyally with the government in Parliament. However, she notably once broke ranks whilst live on the BBC's Question Time, expressing her concern about government plans to introduce ID cards. She ruled herself out of the Deputy Leadership of the Labour Party, declaring her support for Harriet Harman, who was the successful candidate.
Secretary of State for Trade and Industry
Hewitt became a member of the Privy Council in 2001 and was Secretary of State for Trade and Industry from June 2001 until May 2005. In September 2005, a Judicial Review found Hewitt "guilty of unlawful sex discrimination" when she employed a female applicant for a DTI position ahead of a significantly stronger male candidate. The judge ruled that Malcolm Hanney had lost out to a candidate ranked third by the interview panel and that the failure to appoint him was "in breach of the code of practice for ministerial appointments to public bodies". Hewitt had quoted the Code of Practice on Public Appointments, which said: "Ministers will wish to balance boards in terms of diversity as well as skills and experience.", though the panel had clearly stated that Mr Hanney was "much the strongest candidate". The DTI apologised and Hanney was awarded £17,967.17 costs. The appointment was not overturned however and Hewitt herself did not apologise and claimed not to have realised she was in breach of the law. Rod Little of The Times juxtaposed Hewitt's claim with the fact that Hewitt's department was itself responsible for the Sex Discrimination Act, suggesting she believed the purpose of sex discrimination legislation "was intended to be of benefit only to women" rather than "maltreated job applicants...foolish enough to be born with a penis".
Sociologist Geoff Dench has stated that Hewitt discourages male involvement in child rearing by questioning "whether we can trust men with children" and she concluded that it would be necessary to adopt the practice of "not leaving men on their own with groups of children". Dench also criticised Hewitt for suggesting that it requires less intelligence and education to raise children than to be employed. Erin Pizzey similarly criticised the views expressed by Hewitt and her co-authors in the 1990 IPPR report "The Family Way". Writing in the Daily Mail, Pizzey claimed the report was a "staggering attack on men and their role in modern life" as a result of its stating, "it cannot be assumed that men are bound to be an asset to family life or that the presence of fathers in families is necessarily a means to social cohesion".
Hewitt was criticised for a 2003 report by the Women and Equality unit which was run by Hewitt, in which it was stated that there was a "real problem" with mothers who stayed at home to bring up their children. It was described as '"bullying and intolerant" by The Institute of Directors with criticism also coming from mothers groups.
Secretary of State for Health
She was appointed Secretary of State for Health following the 2005 General Election. She was tipped for Work and Pensions department before this. She had a turbulent two years in office, during which several difficult issues arose, such as the controversy over the Medical Training Application Service computer system. However, she also achieved several things during her time in office, including persuading MPs to vote for a complete smoking ban in public places in England. On 27 June 2007 it was announced that Hewitt would not be Health Secretary in Gordon Brown's new cabinet, an announcement which had been widely expected.
As Health Secretary, Hewitt lobbied hard for a complete ban on smoking in public places, which came into force on 1 July 2007. Her predecessor, John Reid had been in favour of limiting the Government's proposed smoking ban as much as possible, and Labour's 2005 election manifesto had included only a limited pledge, proposing to only ban smoking in places where food was served. Even though he had been moved to Secretary of State for Defence, Reid was the main opponent of her proposals, and a leading figure in the decision of the Cabinet to grant an exemption for private clubs and pubs that did not serve food. However, the exemption in the Cabinet proposals did not find favour with MPs and the Government gave them a free vote on the issue. Hewitt voted with the rebels to defeat the Cabinet's partial ban, which was replaced by the outright ban which she had always wanted. Sir Liam Donaldson described the ban as "a momentous move which would prevent the deaths of both smokers and non-smokers." In June 2010, it was announced that there had been a 2.4% decrease in heart attack admissions in the year following the ban.
In April 2006, Hewitt made a speech in which she said the NHS had had "its best year ever", citing a decrease in waiting times for hospital treatment. However, this claim came at a time when thousands of jobs were being cut across the country as a number of NHS trusts attempted to cope with budget deficits. This comment did not go down well, and at the Royal College of Nursing 2006 Congress in Bournemouth, Hewitt was heckled and booed by health workers. Delegates at the conference called for job cuts and bed closures, part of planned NHS reforms aimed at improving the effectiveness of the service, to be halted, predicting that the number of posts lost could reach 13,000, and said a work to rule was possible. BMA chairman Mr. James Johnson claimed 2006 was actually one of the worst years on record and that "2006 has been full of bleak moments for the NHS – job losses, training budgets slashed, trusts delaying operations in order to save money and hospital closures announced at the same time as new PFI developments. Added to this the government's fixation with introducing the private sector into primary care which risks destabilising the well-respected UK system of general practice."
In January 2007, Hewitt criticised the pay of general practitioners (GPs) which had increased to an average of £106,000 per annum as a result of the contract the government implemented in 2004. Her department claimed that GPs had unfairly taken money out of their practices, when the new contract was actually intended to increase investment in practices, although statements from Lord Warner in 2004 appear to contradict this claim. He said that "The better services GPs provide, the more pay they will receive, as rewards will be directly linked with patients' experiences."
On 17 March 2007 over 12,000 doctors went to London to take part in a march objecting to the 'Medical Training Application Service' (MTAS), a job application system for junior doctors, which was subsequently subject to an investigation by the Department of Health, and 'Modernising Medical Careers' for revealing the personal data of applicants. The Conservative Leader of the Opposition David Cameron joined the march and gave a speech.[dead link]
On 23 May 2007 Hewitt survived a vote of no confidence in the House of Commons led by the Conservatives, winning by 63 votes. A number of her cabinet colleagues joined her on the front bench to express solidarity. Despite this, pressure continued to mount on her to resign as Health Secretary.
On 3 April 2007 Hewitt apologised on BBC Radio 4's Today programme saying that the application scheme had caused terrible anxiety for junior doctors. The change offered by the government to the scheme was not accepted by the BMA however, and she was accused of failing to express genuine regret by Andrew Lansley, the Conservative Shadow Minister for Health. Hewitt also made another apology on 1 May 2007 in the House of Commons after the suspension of the MTAS website due to security breaches which she called "utterly deplorable".
Front line health workers also lobbied against Hewitt, sending her petitions opposing cuts to the NHS and privatisation plans which the Department of Health wished to follow up. Andy Belfield of East Midlands Unison stated that waiting list reductions achieved prior to the 2005 election were now at risk due to the expansion of private sector involvement. A survey from October 2006 showed only 37% of workers from the Department of Health were confident in the leadership provided by Hewitt, compared to 57% across Whitehall.
Despite the criticism, Hewitt managed to balance the books of the NHS, which had previously been in huge debt. After having vowed to resign should the NHS complete another year with debts, Hewitt ensured that the Health Service ended 2006/2007 with a £510 million surplus. However to do this she was forced to cut 17,000 jobs, cut public health spending, although that was previously at a high level, and reduce study budgets for NHS staff. By June 2007, whilst the overall budget was balanced, one in five NHS hospital trusts were still in debt.
Retirement from the cabinet
On 27 June 2007, with the appointment of Gordon Brown as Prime Minister, Hewitt announced her retirement from frontline politics, citing 'personal reasons'. On resigning from the cabinet, Hewitt was asked by the Prime Minister to head an EU manifesto group, developing European policy for the next general election manifesto.
After Cabinet – Consultancies and Directorships
In January 2008, Hewitt was appointed "special consultant" to the world's largest chemists, Alliance Boots. Such an appointment was controversial given Hewitt's former role as Health Minister, resulting in objections to her appointment by members of a Parliamentary committee. Hewitt will also become the "special adviser" to private equity company Cinven, which paid £1.4billion for Bupa's UK hospitals.
In March 2008, Hewitt joined the BT Group board as a non-executive director. She joined the group on 24 March 2008. In July 2009, Patricia Hewitt joined the UK India Business Council as its Chair.
In May 2009 The Daily Telegraph reported that Hewitt claimed £920 in legal fees when she moved out of a flat in her constituency, stayed in hotels and then rented another flat in Leicester. Claimed for furniture including £194 for blinds delivered to her London home. In June 2009 Hewitt announced that she will be stepping down from the House of Commons. She said she was leaving the Commons for personal reasons as she wanted to spend more time with her family.
On 6 January 2010, she and fellow ex-minister Geoff Hoon jointly called for a secret ballot on the future of the leadership of Gordon Brown. The following day Hoon said that it appeared to have failed and was "over". Brown later referred to the call for a secret ballot as a "form of silliness".
Dispatches Lobbyist investigation
Hewitt was one of the MPs named in the 2010 sting operation into political lobbying by the Channel 4 Dispatches programme, in which she appeared to claim that she was paid £3,000 a day to help a client obtain a key seat on a Government advisory group. On 22 March 2010, Hewitt, along with Geoff Hoon and Stephen Byers were suspended from the Parliamentary Labour Party over the allegations. Whilst Hoon and Byers were both banned from the House of Commons for five and two years respectively, no further action was taken against Hewitt for her part in the "Cash for Access" affair.
- Your Rights by Patricia Hewitt, 1973, Age Concern Books, Age Concern England, ISBN 0-904502-08-2
- Danger Women at Work: Conference Report Edited by Patricia Hewitt, National Council for Civil Liberties, ISBN 0-901108-30-8
- Equality for Women: Comments on Labour's Proposals for an Anti-Discrimination Law, Edited by Patricia Hewitt, National Council for Civil Liberties, ISBN 0-901108-33-2
- Step-by-Step Guide to Rights for Women by Patricia Hewitt, 1975, National Council for Civil Liberties, ISBN 0-901108-49-9
- Your Rights by Patriica Hewitt, 1976, Age Concern Books, Age Concern England, ISBN 0-904502-62-7
- Your Rights: For Pensioners by Patricia Hewitt, 1976, Age Concern Books, Age Concern England, ISBN 0-904502-66-X
- Civil Liberties by Patricia Hewitt, 1977
- The Privacy Report by Patricia Hewitt, 1977
- Privacy: The Information Gatherers by Patricia Hewitt, 1978, National Council for Civil Liberties, ISBN 0-901108-68-5
- Your Rights at Work by Patricia Hewitt, 1978, National Council for Civil Liberties, ISBN 0-901108-71-5
- Computers, Records and the Right to Privacy by Patricia Hewitt, 1979, Input Two-Nine, ISBN 0-905897-27-7
- Income Tax and Sex Discrimination: Practical Guide by Patricia Hewitt, 1979, Civil Liberties Trust, ISBN 0-901108-84-7
- Your Rights at Work by Patricia Hewitt, 1980, National Council for Civil Liberties, ISBN 0-901108-88-X
- Prevention of Terrorism Act: The Case for Repeal by Catherine Scorer and Patricia Hewitt, 1981, National Council for Civil Liberties, ISBN 0-901108-94-4
- The Abuse of Power: Civil Liberties in the United Kingdom by Patricia Hewitt, 1981, Blackwell Publishers, ISBN 0-85520-380-3
- A Fair Cop: Reforming the Police Complaints Procedure by Patricia Hewitt, 1982, Civil Liberties Trust, ISBN 0-946088-01-2
- Race Relations: A Practical Guide to the Law on Race Discrimination by Paul Gordon, John Wright, Patricia Hewitt, 1982, Civil Liberties Trust, ISBN 0-946088-02-0
- Your Rights: For Pensioners by Patricia Hewitt, 1982, Age Concern England, ISBN 0-86242-014-8
- Your Rights at Work by Patricia Hewitt, 1983, National Council for Civil Liberties, ISBN 0-946088-06-3
- Your Rights: For Pensioners by Patricia Hewitt, 1984, Age Concern England, ISBN 0-86242-029-6
- The New Prevention of Terrorism Act: The Case for Repeal by Catherine Scorer, Sarah Spencer, Patricia Hewitt, 1985, Civil Liberties Trust, ISBN 0-946088-13-6
- Your Rights: For Pensioners by Patricia Hewitt, 1986, Age Concern England, ISBN 0-86242-047-4
- A Cleaner, Faster London: Road Pricing, Transport Policy and the Environment by Patricia Hewitt, 1989, Institute for Public Policy Research, ISBN 1-872452-00-0
- Women's Votes: The Key to Winning Edited by Patricia Hewitt and Deborah Mattinson, 1989, Fabian Society, ISBN 0-7163-1353-7
- Your Rights: A Guide to Money Benefits for Retired People by Patricia Hewitt, 1989, Age Concern England, ISBN 0-86242-080-6
- The Family Way: A New Approach to Policy-Making by Anna Coote, Harriet Harman, Patricia Hewitt, 1990, Institute for Public Policy Research, ISBN 1-872452-15-9
- Your Second Baby by Patricia Hewitt and Wendy Rose-Neil, 1990, HarperCollins, ISBN 0-04-440608-8
- Next Left: An Agenda for the 1990s by Tessa Blackstone, James Cornford, David Miliband and Patricia Hewitt, 1992, Institute for Public Policy Research, ISBN 1-872452-45-0
- About Time: Revolution in Work and Family Life by Patricia Hewitt, 1993, Rivers Oram Press, ISBN 1-85489-040-9
- Social Justice, Children and Families by Patricia Hewitt and Penelope Leach, 1993, Institute for Public Policy Research, ISBN 1-872452-76-0
- A British Bill of Rights by Anthony Lester, Patricia Hewitt et al., 1996, Institute for Public Policy Research, ISBN 1-86030-044-8
- The Politics of Attachment: Towards a Secure Society by Sebastian Kraemer, preface by Patricia Hewitt, 1996, Free Association Books Ltd, ISBN 1-85343-344-6
- Defence for the 21st Century: Towards a Post Cold-War Force Structure by Malcolm Chalmer, foreword by Patricia Hewitt, 1997, Fabian Society, ISBN 0-7163-3040-7
- Information Age Government: Delivering the Blair Revolution by Liam Byrne, foreword by Patricia Hewitt, 1997, Fabian Society, ISBN 0-7163-0582-8
- Pebbles in the Sand by Patricia Hewitt, 1998, Dorrance Publishing Co., ISBN 0-8059-4272-6
- Winning for Women by Harriet Harman and Deborah Mattinson, foreword by Patricia Hewitt, 2000, Fabian Society, ISBN 0-7163-0596-8
- Unfinished Business: The New Agenda for the Workplace by Patricia Hewitt, 2004, Institute for Public Policy Research, ISBN 1-86030-259-9
- The Future of the NHS (contributed a chapter) edited by Dr Michelle Tempest, xpl Publishing, ISBN 1-85811-369-5
- Who's Who 1987
- Oborne, Peter (12 August 2011). "New Labour's toxic legacy". The Daily Telegraph (London).
- Oliver Duff "Hewitt's husband: keep your drug addicts off my doorstep", The Independent, 20 February 2007
- "Secret State: Timeline", BBC News, 17 October 2002
- Roy Hattersley "Another foot up the greasy pole" The Guardian, 25 July 2005
- Patricia Hewitt's maiden speech Hansard – 3 July 1997
- Journalists paid by UK government to promote Chinese goods UK IndyMedia, 30 January 2010
- BT snares former minister Patricia Hewitt The Times, 13 March 2008
- Patricia Hewitt MP, Voting Record Public Whip
- Hewitt reveals split over ID cards Gareth Morgan, Computing, 26 September 2003
- Female champion Hewitt discriminated against man The Independent, 12 October 2005
- The Hewitt horror show The Times, 16 October 2005
- Geoff Dench (1996) Transforming Men: Changing Patterns of Dependency and Dominance in Gender Relations, Transaction Publishers
- Morris, Sylvia (22 January 2007). "How feminists tried to destroy the family". Daily Mail (London).
- Breeding for Britain Melanie Phillips, 22 September 2004
- Doughty, Steve. "Mothers who stay home are a problem". Daily Mail (London).
- Hewitt leaves cabinet health job BBC News, 27 June 2007
- Cabinet agrees England smoking ban BBC News, 25 October 2005
- Campaigners welcome smoking ban BBC News, 15 February 2006
- "England smoking ban takes effect". BBC News. 1 July 2007. Retrieved 18 March 2010.
- "Heart attack admissions fall after smoking ban". BBC News. 9 June 2010. Retrieved 18 June 2100.
- Borsay, Peter (September 2007). "Binge drinking and moral panics: historical parallels??". History & Policy (in English). United Kingdom. Retrieved 9 December 2010.
- NHS Cash Crisis The Guardian, 24 April 2006
- 2006: the best of years, the worst of years? BMA, December 2006
- GP Pay could be capped The Guardian, 19 January 2007
- New GP Contract Combines Better Patient Care And Good Value For Money Medical News Today, 2 April 2006
- Junior doctors in jobs protests ITV News[dead link]
- Hewitt survives no confidence vote Politics.co.uk
- Hewitt apology for training chaos BBC News, 3 April 2007
- MTAS apology Channel 4 News, 24 April 2007
- Hewitt apologises in House of Commons Daily Mail, 1 May 2007
- Hewitt attacked over jobs website BBC News, 1 May 2007
- Health secretary lobbied over NHS BBC News, 3 March 2007
- Survey shows lack of confidence in Hewitt BBC News, 19 February 2007
- Hewitt will resign if NHS continues in debt The Guardian, 22 November 2006
- Patricia Hewitt Profile The Guardian, 28 June 2007
- NHS fears despite books balancing BBC News, 6 June 2007
- Do the NHS accounts add up? BBC News, 6 June 2007
- "Former health secretary Patricia Hewitt takes lucrative job with Boots". Daily Mail (London). 18 January 2008. Retrieved 18 January 2008.
- Costello, Miles (13 March 2008). "BT snares former minister Patricia Hewitt". The Times (London). Retrieved 24 June 2008.
- Non-Executive Directors – Rt Hon Patricia Hewitt MP BT
- MPs' expenses: Full list of MPs investigated by The Telegraph The Daily Telegraph, 8 May 2009
- Hewitt and Hughes stepping down BBC News, 2 June 2009
- Hewitt and Hoon's great gamble The Guardian, 6 January 2010
- "Gordon Brown says leadership challenge was 'silliness'". BBC News. 10 January 2010. Retrieved 10 January 2010.
- Four Labour MPs implicated in 'cash for influence' scandal The Daily Telegraph, 21 March 2010
- Stephen Byers, Patricia Hewitt and Geoff Hoon suspended from Labour party Daily Mail, 22 March 2010
- Prince, Rosa (9 December 2010). "MPs for hire: three former Labour ministers banned from Parliament". The Daily Telegraph.
- Patricia Hewitt official site
- 10 Downing Street – Patricia Hewitt official biography
- Guardian Unlimited Politics – Ask Aristotle: Patricia Hewitt MP
- TheyWorkForYou.com – Patricia Hewitt MP
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
|Member of Parliament for Leicester West
|Economic Secretary to the Treasury
|Secretary of State for Trade and Industry
The Baroness Jay of Paddington
|Minister for Women
|Secretary of State for Health