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Former West Norfolk MP quits Social Mobility Commission role

The Rt.Hon Baroness Shephard of Northwold
The Rt.Hon Baroness Shephard of Northwold

A former West Norfolk MP has resigned from her role as deputy chairman of the government-sponsored Social Mobility Commission.

News of the departure of Baroness Shephard of Northwold, along with her three colleagues on the board, emerged at the weekend, following the publication of a resignation letter from its chairman, Alan Milburn.

In it, Mr Milburn, a former Labour health secretary, said he did not believe the government was capable of tackling the issue during the current focus on Brexit negotiations.

He added: “I would like to pay tribute to my vice-chair Gillian Shephard for her outstanding work over the last few years: similarly, my fellow commissioners Paul Gregg and David Johnston.

“They have all been a joy to work with. From the outset, all have discharged their role as commissioners in a non-partisan way.

“I remain deeply committed to the issue, but I have little hope of the current government making the progress I believe is necessary to bring about a fairer Britain.

“It seems unable to commit to the future of the commission as an independent body or to give due priority to the social mobility challenge facing our nation.”

Last week, the commission’s annual report warned there was a “stark social mobility lottery in Britain today” and urgent action was needed to address it.

Baroness Shephard, who had been vice-chairman of the commission since 2012, served as MP for the South West Norfolk constituency from 1987 until 2005.

She served in several Cabinet roles, including education, employment and agriculture briefs, during John Major’s government.


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