Lord Rooker stands down

Minister for food and farming Lord Rooker has left his government post in a huge shake-up of Defra ministers by Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

The Baron of Perry Parr has stood down from Defra, as well as his post as Deputy Speaker in the House of Lords.

Lord Rooker, a former engineer and lecturer who took up the role in May 2006, was unavailable for comment, but a Defra spokesperson confirmed the move.

New ministers to enter Defra include Jane Kennedy, Huw Irranca-Davies and Lord Hunt of King's Heath in a huge shake-up of the department, which sees it lose much of it environment portfolio to a new energy and climate change department.

National Farmers' Union (NFU) president Peter Kendall welcomed the move. He said: "We are pleased to see government has emphasised the importance of climate change by creating a seat at the Cabinet table. Agriculture and horticulture are at the front-line of climate change and its impacts."

Kennedy, MP for Liverpool Wavertree, is to become minister for food, farming, water and waste, while Irranca-Davies takes up some rural affairs responsibilities.

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