02 March 1998
Name change for Ministry of Agriculture
A COMPLETE overhaul and name change for the department of agriculture has been mooted to give country people a louder voice in government.
Michael Meacher, environmental minister, said at yesterdays Countryside March that the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food would be revamped into a department of rural affairs to give rural communities a stronger voice in the Cabinet.
Dr Jack Cunningham, agriculture minister, conceded on BBC Radio 4s Today programme that MAFF was to undergo some fundamental changes, but would not be drawn on whether a department of rural affairs was the next logical step.
“Thats a matter for the Prime Minister. Whitehall organisation is ultimately a decision only the Prime Minister can make,” he said.
Dr Cunningham said it was no secret that government was keen to remove food safety from MAFFs remit. The proposed establishment of the Food Standards Agency effectively does this, after government felt that MAFF should not be responsible for both food safety as well as food promotion.
“I was sent there to change the ministry, to redirect it, change its culture, to split of those responsibilities for food safety and food hygiene,” he said.
In regard to MAFFs future role, Dr Cunningham said there had been some informal discussions about what shape the future ministry should take, but no proper inter-department discussions.