Uncertainty over Defra's future
DEFRA could be involved in a significant Departmental shake-up, according to rumours rife in Westminster today (Wednesday, May 12).
While a number of cabinet posts have already been confirmed in David Cameron’s new Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition Government, there is no word yet on Defra.
Staff at Defra have been told there are set to be changes to the machinery of Government, Farmers Guardian has learned, meaning some Departments are likely to merged or have their remits changed.
There are reports that Chris Huhne has been appointed Secretary of State for a combined Department of Energy, climate change and the Environment.
Exactly where this would leave Defra and the farming brief, if confirmed, is unclear.
The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) was only set up in 2008, as former Prime Minister Gordon Brown removed climate change from Defra’s remit.
Nick Herbert had held the Shadow Defra Secretary post for the Conservatives in the run up to the election, while Jim Paice has held the role of Shadow Farming Minister for a number of years.
They had pledged to raise the profile of farming under a new Tory Government, symbolised by putting the word ‘farming’ back into its department’s title.
Key Tory farming policies include pledges to implement a badger cull, introduce a supermarket Ombudsman, cut back on the number of rural quangos, ease the burden of regulation on farmers and push for far-reaching reform of the CAP (common agricultural policy).
It remains to be seen whether any Lib Dem MPs, such as Tim Farron, will be handed farming-related briefs.
The Lib Dems have also pledged to introduce a badger cull and a supermarket ombudsman, albeit one with powers to intervene on prices, but have indicated they would seek less radical reform of the CAP.
More detail is expected to be released this afternoon.