11 February 2000
Treasury man tipped for rural ministry
ANDREW Smith, chief secretary to the Treasury, is emerging as the favourite to head up a new rural affairs ministry, according to a report in the Financial Times.
Described as fully paid-up “Blairite”, Mr Smiths most direct experience of agriculture comes from his involvement in producing the recent Cabinet Office consultation paper about rural issues.
This is expected to contain the core ideas for a countryside white paper, including “DoRA”, as the suggested department of rural affairs is sometimes known.
The department – not expected to be created until after the next election – would combine economic, agricultural, social and environmental interests.
Mr Smith was the employment minister, prior to promotion to the Treasury.
He also served time as shadow transport minister, although not without some embarrassment.
He famously declared to one Labour party conference that the “air is not for sale”. The government is currently trying to privatise the countrys air traffic control system.