15 June 2001

Moved away, but job might prove similar

By Isabel Davies

HE embarrassed the Prime Minister by claiming there would be an inquiry into foot-and-mouth disease, but Michael Meacher still managed to hold on to his job as environment minister.

The cabinet reshuffle may have shifted him away from the old Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions but the job could end up pretty similar.

To the wider world Mr Meacher is best known as the minister who criticised people with second homes only for it to be revealed that he owned several homes himself.

But the MP for Oldham West, who was appointed environment minister in 1997, is a much more familiar face to farmers.

He has been vocal in his desire to see the introduction of a pesticide tax, a strong supporter of organic farming and is also the man who made it his mission to push through the controversial Countryside and Rights of Way Act. Prior to the Bill being passed, he said: "Enjoyment of our glorious heritage should not be limited to a privileged few."

Mr Meacher has always insisted that the field-scale trials of genetically modified crops must go ahead and has tried to push on with the government programme. &#42

Michael Meacher… The minister who wants a pesticide tax.