Lord de Mauley©Alamy

Lord de Mauley has been axed from Defra, leaving the department with three ministers.

Defra has confirmed Lord de Mauley has left his post as parliamentary undersecretary of state for natural environment of science. His name was removed from Defra’s ministerial duties list.

He started the role in 2012 and had been responsible for the business of the Defra in the House of Lords.

See also: George Eustice rejoins Liz Truss at Defra

His responsibilities involved science and research, including the Agri-tech Strategy, pesticides and chemicals, genetically modified organisms and the Food and Environment Research Agency (Fera).

The former minister’s Defra portfolio also concerned the natural environment, including biodiversity, pollinators, land management and soil, ecosystem services and wildlife management and plant and tree health.

Lord Gardiner of Kimble will take up Lord de Mauley’s role as Defra spokesman in the House of Lords. However, Lord Gardiner has not been handed any ministerial duties.

Lord de Mauley’s duties will be divided between the three remaining Defra ministers: farm minister George Eustice, Defra secretary Liz Truss and Rory Stewart, Conservative MP for Penrith and the Border, who was appointed as parliamentary undersecretary of state in David Cameron’s post-election cabinet reshuffle last week.

A Defra spokesman said the department’s ministerial duties would be confirmed by the end of this week. Updates will be posted on the Defra website.

The spokesman added: “Lord Gardiner of Kimble has been appointed as the Lords spokesperson for Defra – portfolios are currently being finalised and will be announced in due course.”

Sweeping cuts to Defra’s budget and personnel have raised doubts about the department’s future and its ability to deal with future emergencies, such as flooding.