Time & Location
08 Mar 2021, 18:00 – 18:45 GMT
About the Event
Penny has lived in Portsmouth since she was 2-years-old. Her father, who was born in Hilsea barracks, was in the Paras before becoming a teacher at Oak Park school and later a youth worker for Hampshire Council.
Her mother, who died of breast cancer in 1988, was a special needs teacher at several Purbrook schools, and her stepmother was also a local primary school teacher. Penny has two brothers, Edward and James, who is her twin. She was educated at Oaklands RC Comprehensive School and sixth form.
She worked at the old Johnson and Johnson factory and as a magician's assistant for Paulsgrove resident and former President of the Portsmouth Magic Circle, Will Ayling, before becoming the first person in her family to go to university.
She gained an interest in politics having worked in the hospitals and orphanages of post-revolutionary Romania, for the year before and during her time at university.
She had a successful career in business and communications working in the private, public and charitable sectors. She supported British truckers during the French blockades while working for the Freight Transport Association. She is proud to have been a director of one of the top-performing local authorities in the UK - delivering excellent services for one of the lowest council taxes in the country.
She went on to be a director of a national lottery distributor and created the Veterans Reunited programme, enabling servicemen and women to visit WWII battlefields and be involved in commemorative events. In 2006 she became Director of Diabetes UK - the largest patient organization in Europe. She expanded the services of the charity and substantially increased its income, and set up services in developing countries particularly prone to diabetes. In 2004 she set up her own business which she sold on her election to Parliament in 2010.
Penny is a Royal Navy reservist at King Alfred on Whale Island. Penny ran the League of Friends visiting team at the Queen Alexandra Hospital for 8 years and now fundraises for several local charities.
She is a patron of Enable Ability, a Trustee of the Wymering Manor Trust and a Scouting Ambassador for Portsmouth.
In 2015, Penny was appointed as the Minister for Armed Forces and is the first female member of parliament to hold this position.
In 2016, Penny was appointed as Minister of State for Disabled People, Health and Work.
In November 2017, Penny was appointed as Secretary of State for International Development.
In May 2019, Penny was appointed as Secretary of State for Defence.
In 2020, Penny was appointed as Her Majesty's Paymaster General.
Maria was first elected to represent Basingstoke in the 2005 General Election. Before entering Parliament, Maria worked for 20 years in marketing, including board level experience.
On becoming a Member of Parliament, Maria was appointed to the Trade and Industry Select Committee. David Cameron appointed her as Shadow Minister for Education in December 2005, then Shadow Minister for Family Welfare in the Department for Work and Pensions in November 2006. Maria moved back to the Education team as Shadow Minister for Family in July 2007 and remained in post until the 2010 General Election.
Maria was appointed Minister for Disabled People at the Department for Work and Pensions in the Coalition Government in May 2010 and was promoted to Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, and Minister for Women and Equalities, from September 2012 to April 2014.In June 2015 Maria was elected as Chair of the newly established Women and Equalities Select Committee. Maria was nominated for the position by MPs across the House in 2017 and was re-elected unopposed.
In addition to her role as Chair of the Conservative Women in Parliament, Maria is Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Women in Parliament, Co-Chair of the APPG UN Women, and Vice-Chair of the APPG on Digital Regulation and Responsibility. Maria is also a Director and Trustee of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, Patron of HCUK and serves on the Board of Governors for the Westminster Foundation for Democracy.