Coalition Government unveils ministerial line up for key horticultural roles

Prime minister David Cameron has confirmed four new appointments at Defra.

Conservative MP for Meriden Caroline Spelman is new Defra secretary of state, joining from the shadow communities and local government brief.

In opposition, she served in the shadow cabinet, covering the environment, international development and communities and local government portfolios.

Before entering Parliament, Spelman, who is trilingual, had a career in the agriculture sector, with 15 years in the agriculture industry, including time as deputy director of the International Confederation of European Beet Growers and a research fellow at the Centre for European Agricultural Studies.

The minister of state job went to fellow Tory, South East Cambridgeshire MP Jim Paice, who will serve as farming minister. Before joining Defra, Paice was twice the opposition spokesperson for agriculture and rural affairs.

Richard Benyon MP and Lord Henley make up an all-Conservative team, both appointed to the position of under secretary of state. Benyon has been MP for Newbury since May 2005 and served as a shadow minister for the environment, fisheries and rural affairs.

Lord Henley entered the House of Lords in 1977 and has held front-bench positions in Government under Margaret Thatcher and John Major and in opposition since 1997.

His career included posts as House of Lords whip and positions in the social security, employment, defence and education departments. He also served as opposition chief whip in the Lords and later as a shadow justice minister.

Former shadow horticulture spokesman Lord Taylor of Holbeach has been made a Government whip in the Lords and will be a Government spokesman in the chamber.

Meanwhile, Liberal Democrat Chris Huhne is the new secretary of state at the Department for Energy and Climate Change, while Conservative Jeremy Hunt is new minister for culture, Olympics, media and sport. Liberal Democrat Vince Cable is the new business secretary.

Former environment, food and rural affiars select committee chairman Michael Jack did not contest his seat at the election.

- For more details, see p15.

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