David Cameron’s decision to hand responsibility for women and gay rights policy to his new Culture Secretary Maria Miller today raised eyebrows among campaigners concerned at her voting record on equality issues.
On her Conservative Party website profile Ms Miller is noted as being a “mother of three” who “brings her experience as a working mother and in business to all aspects of her political work“.
But it fails to highlight that on the touch stone issues of abortion and gay marriage she appears to have personal views that are to the right of the Conservative mainstream.
Last year she voted in favour of a controversial amendment to the Health and Social Care Bill, proposes by Nadine Dorries, which would have prevented abortion providers from also providing counselling to women with an unwanted pregnancy.
In 2008 she also voted for the abortion time limit to be lowered to 20 weeks.
On gay marriage her position is less clear but she previously voted in favour of an amendment to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill in 2008 requiring the need for both a father and a mother to be considered when taking account of the welfare of a child who could be born as a result of fertility treatment.
The year before she opposed a move to allow ministers to introduce regulations banning discrimination and harassment on grounds of sexual orientation.
Yesterday equality groups were reluctant to publically criticise her appointment but privately expressed some concern that she would be less of a proponent of gay marriage legislation than her predecessor Lynne Featherstone.
“A lot of Conservatives have been on a journey has far as equality legislation is concerned and our view is that we should judge them on what they do and not on their past voting record,” said one.
“However we will be watching very carefully and if we see any backtracking we will be shouting from the roof tops.”