Tony Blair’s reshuffle following the local elections has led to an all-new ministerial team at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), with the exception of Ben Bradshaw.
David Miliband has replaced Margaret Beckett as Secretary of State, with Beckett moving on to become Foreign Secretary.
Oxford-educated Miliband has risen swiftly through the ranks of Government since being elected MP for South Shields in 2001. He was Minister of State for Schools in 2002, Minster for the Cabinet Office in 2004 and Minister of Communities and Local Government in 2005.
He said: “I am very excited to be leading a department whose agenda touches everyone’s life — from the local environment in urban and rural areas, from the farm to the consumer, to the future of the planet.
“It is particularly humbling to take on the challenge of climate change, the greatest of global threats. There are no quick answers so it will be through our actions over the years that we show our resolve and effectiveness. That is what I intend to do.”
Defra’s ministerial team is now as follows: Minister of State — Ian Pearson MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Commons) — Ben Bradshaw MP and Barry Gardiner MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Lords) — Baroness Ashton of Upholland.
Industry reacted fairly positively to the reshuffle news. Wastelink corporate affairs advisor Mike Beard said: “It’s probably a very good appointment. David Miliband is a well-respected minister and it is likely he will give a boost to the operations of Defra.”
While Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee (LARAC) chairman Lee Marshall was a little more hesitant and said the changes had come at an important time in the waste industry and while the Government’s Waste Strategy was under review.
“With Ben Bradshaw remaining there is still continuity though it is uncertain as to what duties he will have. David Miliband has been involved in local government previously, so that is a potential benefit. But we will have to wait and see if the changes will make a difference,” Marshall said.