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Waste minister Lord Taylor leaves Defra

Lord Taylor has left his post as waste minister to join the Home Office in a surprise late twist in the prime minister’s reshuffle.

A Defra spokesman told MRW that Taylor’s departure was confirmed on Thursday (6 September) but which minister would take on the waste brief had not been decided.

A spokesman said: “A decision on who will pick up the waste brief is expected in the next few days.”

The department has, however, appointed Lord de Mauley as parliamentary under secretary of state in Lord Taylor’s place but his portfolio is yet to be agreed.

Lord Taylor, who joined Defra in Spetember 2011, has moved to the Home Office as parliamentary under secretary of state.   

Defra’s new ministers

Rupert Ponsonby, the 7th Baron de Mauley (Conservative)
Parliamentary under secretary of state

  • Lord de Mauley replaces Lord Taylor, who held the waste portfolio. A government whip, he won a by-election to take a Conservative hereditary peer’s seat in the Lords in 2005.
  • According to his website, he has been a government spokesman on numerous briefs including the environmental issues. His entry in the House register of members’ interests includes farmland and property in Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire.
  • Served in the Territorial Army and lists areas of interest as south east Asia, China and Europe. President of the Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad.

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David Heath MP (Liberal Democrat)
Minister of state

  • David Heath replaces Jim Paice, who was the minister for agriculture and food.
  • Heath has served as MP for the rural Somerset constituency of Somerton and Frome since 1997
  • Previously leader of Somerset County Council and parliamentary consultant for the World Wide Fund for Nature.
  • Formerly front bench spokesman on agriculture, fisheries and food, work and pensions, justice, human rights, and spokesman on the office of the Leader of the House of Commons.

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Taylor’s departure means Defra has lost both the environment secretary who oversaw the waste policy review (Caroline Spelman) and the minister who had been championing the sector.

The departures are likely to frustrate senior industry figures who have long lamented the revolving door for both ministers and senior officials charged with overseeing waste policy.

Senior industry figures expressed disappointment about Taylor’s departure – a sentiment conspicuous by its absence when Spelman was ousted as environment secretary.

Chartered Institution of Wastes Management chief executive Steve Lee tweeted: “Sorry to see Lord Taylor go as Waste Minister - seemed pretty genuine. Not yet known who is taking over or if same remit. Let’s wait and see.”  

The news follows a frantic week for Defra which begun with environment secretary Caroline Spelman being ousted from the department as one of the early high-profile victims of David Cameron’s reshuffle.

Spelman was replaced by former Northern Ireland secretary Owen Paterson with her departure largely attributed to a humiliating u-turn over the proposed sale of national forests which happened on her watch.

Despite last year’s review of waste policy, senior figures in the sector criticised Defra for a lack of ambition by during Spelman’s tenure.  

In June Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM) chief executive Steve Lee said Defra’s waste review was “as interesting as half a sink full of dirty water”.

According to a report in May on influential blog Conservative Home, Paterson has called for the ending of all energy subsidies and fast-tracked exploitation of shale gas.

This provoked renewable energy chiefs to make a plea to Paterson to “embrace the waste to energy agenda”

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