21 January 2000
Mowlam tipped for rural ministry job

by FWi staff

CABINET co-ordinator Mo Mowlam is being tipped to head up a new ministry of rural affairs which is being considered by the government.

Ms Mowlam has confirmed that the creation of a rural affairs ministry is being decided upon but emphasised that no decisions have yet been taken.

She is already chairwoman of the Cabinet committee for rural affairs although the role currently gives her no ministerial decision-making responsibility.

But the former Northern Ireland secretary is the rural minister in waiting, according to The Independent newspaper on Friday (21 January).

Ms Mowlam has made no secret of her frustration over her job as Minister for the Cabinet Office, it says.

Downing Street has hoped to giver her a more powerful role and she is being groomed to head a new rural affairs ministry.

The appointment of Ms Mowlam as a countryside minister would raise eyebrows because she admits to knowing very little about rural matters.

Ms Mowlam has told the Environment, Transport and the Regions Select Committee that she prefers to live in London rather than the countryside.

But she admits that there are some aspects of rural life which she finds attractive — “the colours, the pubs, the good beer”.

Her honesty, most notably her confession that she smoked cannabis as a student, has made her one of Labours most popular ministers.

However, she refuses to comment on expectations that the Ministry of Agriculture would be abolished if a new rural ministry was introduced.