David Cameron has now announced his new Cabinet, including the key environmental portfolios within the coalition government. Policies in this sector have caused significant disagreements between the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives in the past, most notably on nuclear energy which the liberals have consistently resisted. The new appointments reflect the apparent desire amongst both parties to govern in a constructive coalition.
This has been demonstrated by Cameron’s allocation of the weighty Energy and Climate Change brief to the Liberal Democrats’ former environment spokesman Chris Huhne. Huhne’s background in City makes him a practical choice given the big financial commitments a programme of low carbon energy expansion could demand. A new accord over the financial aspects of energy policy, such as the introduction of a low carbon infrastructure bank and green home loans, as well as agreements on the smart meters roll-out and marine energy will keep Huhne and his new department busy over the coming months. Huhne’s biography is available on the DECC website here.
At DEFRA Caroline Spelman has landed Hilary Benn’s former job as Environment, Food and Rural Affairs secretary. With a long farming background and published research on biofuels, Spelman starts the role on a firm footing, given she also took the brief in opposition. Spelman has said she will ‘work across government and beyond to respond to the challenges of increasing food production, adapting to climate change, protecting our natural environment and ensuring we live sustainably.’ See her biography on the DEFRA website here.
Another Conservative, Phillip Hammond MP, will take the transport brief, following his most recent portfolio in opposition as shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury. The prominent Liberal Democrat Vince Cable has been appointed Secretary for Business, Innovation and Skills, whilst the Conservative David Willetts will look after Universities and Science within DBIS, after shadowing the Universities and Skills minister in opposition. Further junior ministerial appointments are expected to be confirmed in the next few days as the Prime Minister fleshes out these departments with politicians from both parties.