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Baroness Williams served in several ministerial roles under the premiership of Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson, before landing her first cabinet job in 1974 as the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection. In 1976, she became Secretary of State for Education and Science and created comprehensive schools as part of her portfolio.

Her career in politics spanned more than 50 years, after she first entered Parliament as the Labour MP for Hitchin in 1964. Shirley had been Labour MP for Stevenage in the days when the constituency had a different boundary and was awarded Freedom of the Borough in July 1979. In the early 1980s she was a founding member of the Social Democrat Party and then joined the Liberal Democrat Party. Shirley always held a special affection for our town and often visited us for key public occasions.

She retired from political life in 2016, after leading the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords.

Councillor Jim Brown, the Mayor of Stevenage said Shirley Williams was a Freeman of the Borough of Stevenage and the elected representative of our town for many years.

"She was a tremendous champion of state education. I remember her coming to the comprehensive school where I worked as a science teacher in the Spring of 1979. So many young people owe a lot to her."