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Number of Defra ministers cut to three

Lord Gardiner of Kimble will replace Lord de Mauley as Defra’s spokesman in the House of Lords, but unlike his predecessor will have no formal ministerial responsibility within the Department

Lord Gardiner of Kimble will replace Lord de Mauley as Defra’s spokesman in the House of Lords, but unlike his predecessor will have no formal ministerial responsibility within the Department, a spokesman for Number 10 has confirmed.

Parliament

Lord Gardiner has been given the role of Defra’s spokesman in the House of Lords

The Number 10 spokesman told AirQualityNews.com that Lord Gardiner would not “in the traditional senseâ€? be a Defra minister, but would act instead as Defra’s representative in the Lords.

It effectively means the Prime Minister has reduced the number of Defra ministers from the four in office prior to the General Election, to just three – secretary of state Liz Truss, minister of state George Eustice and under-secretary of state Rory Stewart.

Previous ministerial responsibilities held by Lord de Mauley, who was confirmed to have left the Department in his role as under-secretary of state for natural environment and science yesterday (see AirQualityNews.com story), will be shared out among the remaining three Defra politicians.

Prior to the departure of Lord de Mauley, Rory Stewart had said that individual ministerial responsibilities – including the air quality brief – were likely to be announced by Defra this week.

However, despite the reduction in Defra ministers, the Number 10 spokesman said that since May 7 there had in fact been an “increase in seniorityâ€? among ministers at the Department, as Mr Eustice had been promoted to Minister of State from his previous role as an under-secretary (or junior minister) at Defra.

According to the spokesman, this promotion “reflects the confidence which we have in Mr Eustice at the Departmentâ€?.

Lord Gardiner

Lord Gardiner previously served as a whip and spokesman on for the Cabinet Office, as well as for the Business Innovation & Skills and Energy and Energy and Climate Change departments.

He is now the Conservative Deputy Chief Whip in the House of Lords, and also currently holds the role of deputy chief executive of the Countryside Alliance having previously worked as director of political affairs for the organisation.

Lord Gardiner appears to have little background in air quality, but has previously served on the Lords’ joint committee on security and the HIV and AIDS committee in the United Kingdom.

He is also known to have been an advocate of fox hunting and headed the Vale of Aylesbury with Garth and South Berks Hunt from 1992 to 2006.

It appears that an anti-fox hunting protest group on Facebook knew about Lord Gardiner’s appointment to the position yesterday, highlighting confusion around the announcement.

Urban Fox Defenders posted: “Cameron has just appointed Lord Gardiner, Countryside Alliance representative, to be a Defra Minister. Well I never.â€?

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