Rebecca Pow joins Defra in further reshuffle

Rebecca Pow MP has been appointed Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), while Zac Goldsmith MP has been promoted to Minister of State at the department.

Pow’s appointment follows former Resources Minister Therese Coffey’s departure to become Secretary of State for Work and Pensions after former Home Secretary Amber Rudd had resigned from the post over her opposition to Boris Johnson’s Brexit strategy.

The move is the latest reshuffle at Defra, which has experienced significant upheaval since Boris Johnson’s appointment as Prime Minister, with respected Environment Secretary Michael Gove departing to become Duchy of Lancaster, being replaced by Theresa Villiers.

Rebecca Pow MP
Rebecca Pow MP, Defra Parliamentary Under Secretary of State
Zac Goldsmith was appointed as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at Defra, as well as at the Department for International Development (Dfid), and he will now serve as a Minister of State attending cabinet for both of the departments. The remaining ministers in Defra are George Eustice, Minister of State, and Lord Gardiner of Kimble, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State with responsibility for Defra parliamentary business in the House of Lords.

Pow, Conservative MP for Taunton Deane, worked as a TV and radio journalist before becoming an MP in 2015. She has since worked as Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) for Gavin Barwell MP in the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), a PPS to the Defra ministerial team, and as PPS to Secretary of State Esther McVey MP at the Department for Work and Pensions. She was then appointed Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Arts, Tourism and Heritage at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport in May 2019.

Pow is a self-styled ‘green’ MP and has sat on the Environmental Audit Committee and the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee during the 2015-17 Parliament.

Pow will be responsible for Rural Opportunities and will cover animal welfare, marine, biodiversity and environment, domestic forestry and international forestry.

Despite Pow’s appointment, the ministerial portfolio for resources and waste has yet to be allocated, which is likely to raise concerns within the resources and waste industry over the progress of the policies contained in the Resources and Waste Strategy.

Commenting on her appointment, Paul Vanston, CEO of the Industry Council for Packaging and the Environment (INCPEN), said: “I welcome the Prime Minister's appointment of Rebecca Pow to the Defra team. Rebecca has advocated strongly for environmental issues for a long time.  Should she receive the ministerial portfolio including resources and waste, I'm confident there should be no let-up  in delivering on the very purposeful groundwork laid by Michael Gove and Therese Coffey”.

A Defra spokesperson said a decision over who will assume the resources and waste portfolio has yet to be finalised, but assured that this would be made imminently.

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