Annabelle Dickson, Political Editor
Tuesday, July 15, 2014
Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss has been promoted to the role of Environment Secretary in David Cameron’s second stage of his final cabinet reshuffle before next year’s general election.
The South West Norfolk MP, who was made an early years minister in the Department for Education in 2012, will replace Owen Paterson as Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
Mr Paterson, who was branded the “badger basher” for his handling of the controversial badger cull to try and control TB in cattle, has been in the post since 2012.
Liz Truss follows in the footsteps of former South West Norfolk MP Baroness Shephard who was made minister of agriculture, fisheries and food in 1993.
On her website, Ms Truss said she was working hard to get the best deal for Norfolk farmers.
Her page says: “Elizabeth has a number of concerns about the use of agricultural land for solar or biomass plants and the subsidies for these operations. She does not want to see the UK’s food security jeopardised; food and farming is the largest manufacturing industry in the UK and she is keen to see that the importance of this sector is recognised.”
“Elizabeth has also raised with the Defra Secretary of State her concerns in relation to flooding in her constituency. She has long argued that the £1:£8 cost benefit ratio formula provided by the Environment Agency for the funding of flood prevention schemes do not value farmland high enough.”
NFU East Anglia Regional Director Pamela Forbes said: “We would like to congratulate Elizabeth Truss on her new role and we look forward to working with her.
“She recognises that agriculture is a vital industry and she has taken a keen interest in food and farming issues in her constituency, particularly around food and water security.
“After the last drought she arranged for farmers to meet the minister to discuss concerns about water supplies for irrigated crops in Norfolk and Suffolk and she has called for greater protection for farmland from flooding.
“She also knows our views regarding reform of the Common Agricultural Policy, having led a delegation to meet farming minister George Eustice in December.”
Making what is likely to be the last adjustments to his team before the 2015 poll, the Prime Minister said goodbye to a number of male ministers, including Tory veteran William Hague.
He has quit as foreign secretary and will leave the Commons next year.
Former Tory leader Mr Hague will replace Andrew Lansley as Leader of the Commons and lead the Conservative campaign in key constituencies, particularly in northern England, until he gives up his safe seat in Richmond, North Yorkshire.
The Prime Minister said Mr Hague had been one of the Conservative Party’s “leading lights” for a generation and had been a “close confidante, wise counsellor and great friend”.
The shock announcement follows the widely expected decision by Ken Clarke to retire at 74, ending a career in government stretching back to 1972.
Veteran MP Sir George Young also resigned as chief whip, creating another Cabinet-level position for Mr Cameron to fill.
The vacancy at the Foreign Office will be a plum job for Mr Cameron to allocate, but there are also a number of other spots at the Cabinet table and in the lower ministerial ranks for him to award to rising stars as he refreshes his team before the 2015 general election.
Downing Street said the Prime Minister also accepted the resignations of universities minister David Willetts and energy and climate change minister Greg Barker, who will both stand down as MPs next year.
Andrew Robathan quit as a minister in the Northern Ireland Office, while news of Hugh Robertson’s resignation from the Foreign Office filtered through while he was on an overseas trip in Beirut.