Dame Anne Begg was elected as the Labour MP for Aberdeen South in the General Election of May 1997 and she was re-elected at the elections in 2001, 2005 and 2010. In the 2011 New Year’s Honours List she was awarded a DBE for services to disabled people and equal opportunities.
Born in 1955 in Brechin, Angus, the daughter of a nurse and an orthotist, Dame Anne attended Damacre Primary School and Brechin High School before going on to the University of Aberdeen where she studied History, Politics and English. Dame Anne then attended Northern College where she studied to become a secondary school teacher.
Her first post was in 1978, teaching English and History at Webster’s High School in Kirriemuir. Dame Anne soon moved on to Arbroath Academy where she rose to the position of Principal Teacher of English, a position she relinquished with some reluctance when she was elected in 1997.
Her commitment to education saw her actively involved in the teaching union, the Educational Institute of Scotland. While a teacher she was also an elected member of The General Teaching Council for Scotland.
Dame Anne was born with the rare genetic condition Gauchers Disease which has resulted in her bones breaking regularly. She has used a wheelchair since 1984, the year after she joined the Labour Party and became active in local politics. Dame Anne was the first full-time wheelchair user to be elected to Parliament.
Regarding her wheelchair as her “liberator”, Dame Anne has always believed that disabled people should not be excluded from society. She was a founder member of Angus Access Panel and campaigned for civil rights for disabled people. In 1988 Dame Anne was voted the Disabled Scot of the Year.
In Parliament Dame Anne’s political interests include social justice, welfare reform, pensions, equality (with an emphasis on disability), genetics and broadcasting.
In her maiden speech on May 21st 1997 she spoke on the Referendum Bill for a Scottish Parliament, part of which features in the video “Great Parliamentary Speeches”.
In 2010 Dame Anne was elected Chair of the Commons Work and Pensions Select Committee. Previously she had been a member of the Speaker’s Panel of Chairmen’s and in the previous Parliament she was Vice Chair of the Speaker’s Conference on political representation. She is presently Chair of the All Party Groups for Offshore Oil & Gas and Commercial Radio and is Secretary of the BBC Group.
Dame Anne is also a fellow of the Industry and Parliament Trust having undertaken a placement with the oil company Chevron.