Cabinet reshuffle pushes energy up the political agenda

18 May 2005

The returned UK Labour government has initiated a cabinet reshuffle that appears to raise the profile of energy policy in the government’s agenda.

Former postman Alan Johnson was appointed as Secretary of State for the newly devised Department of Productivity, Energy and Industry that emerged from the former Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

However, Johnson complained that the new title attracted unwelcome acronyms, including his own as the Productivity, Energy and Industry Secretary, or ‘penis’, and reverted to the old DTI.

Nonetheless, despite the embarrassing PR associated with the temporary name change, with energy albeit briefly promoted to inclusion in the department's name, the profile of the sector is expected to increase in stature. Most significantly, former pensions minister Malcolm Wicks has been appointed minister of energy – the first fully-fledged energy minister under a Labour government. Wicks' voting record shows him to be a loyal Blair supporter. Joan MacNaughton of the DTI has been named as director general of energy policy.

One of the biggest issues it faces will be the future role of nuclear energy in the UK and the government plans to conduct a review of its policy on nuclear power later this year, according to Johnson.

Johnson reportedly said that the government would "have to make a decision in plenty of time" to replace the country's existing nuclear fleet adding that "some kind of review of where we stand, [would be published] some time this year."

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