Ruth Kelly - Career As An MP

Career As An MP

In the 1997 general election, Kelly gained the seat of Bolton West from the Conservatives while heavily pregnant, and gave birth to her first son eleven days later. She gained her place in parliament as Tony Blair became Prime Minister with Labour's landslide election victory.

She served on the Treasury Select Committee; she was also appointed as Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Agriculture Minister, Nick Brown from 1998. Kelly was a member of a commission set up by the Institute for Public Policy Research into the Private Finance Initiative, which expressed some scepticism about the operation of the policy.

After Labour won the 2001 general election, Kelly was appointed as Economic Secretary to the Treasury. Her role focused on competition policy and small businesses. After a year she was promoted to be Financial Secretary to the Treasury, giving her responsibility for regulation of the financial services industry. In both positions her principal task was in the thorough revision of the Financial Services regulation system which was introduced by the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000. Kelly brought in new regulations to tackle the funding of terrorism after the 11 September 2001 attacks.

Kelly was assigned the task of dealing with Equitable Life after the Penrose Report into the life insurance company was published. She rejected calls for government compensation to Equitable policyholders, on the grounds that the losses arose from actions of the company rather than from any defect of regulation, and that it was still trading. Equitable policyholders continued to demand redress.

As a mother of four young children, she refused to work the long hours normally associated with such positions and refused to take a red box in the evening whilst at the Treasury.

In a minor reshuffle, she was promoted to be Minister for the Cabinet Office on 9 September 2004, replacing Douglas Alexander. Kelly guided the Civil Contingencies Bill through its final stages in Parliament, which faced serious objections from some civil liberties campaigns.

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