FOLLOWING PRIME Minister Tony Blair’s much-publicised cabinet reshuffle, the political face of the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has changed almost completely.
David Miliband, MP for South Shields, succeeds Margaret Beckett as Secretary of State. Mrs Beckett had held the post since 2001.
Elliott Morley, who launched the flagship Animal Welfare Bill before being succeeded by Ben Bradshaw, has now left DEFRA altogether. Ben Bradshaw, meanwhile, remains the only DEFRA Minister to retain his job following the reshuffle and is expected to pilot the Animal Welfare Bill onto the Statute books later this year.
Countryside Alliance Chairman Kate Hoey welcomed the appointment of David Miliband as Secretary of State as a "breath of fresh air" for the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and an opportunity for DEFRA to "reconnect with rural communities".
Kate Hoey, Alliance Chairman and Labour MP for Vauxhall, said: "David is a very brilliant politician.
The rural community is feeling fed up over all sorts of issues, the most pressing being the catastrophic failure of the Rural Payments Agency.
"He will be a breath of fresh air at DEFRA and has a real opportunity to reconnect with rural people and their concerns".
The new ministerial line-up at DEFRA is as follows: Secretary of State: Rt Hon David Miliband MP; Minister of State: Ian Pearson MP; Minister of State (Lords): Lord Rooker; Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Commons): Ben Bradshaw, MP and Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Commons): Barry Gardiner MP.