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Reshuffle brings new hopes

07 September 2012


Fresh fields: Justine Greening,  newly named as Inter­national Development Secretary, leaves No. 10 Downing Street on Tuesday

Fresh fields: Justine Greening,  newly named as Inter­national Development Secretary, leaves No. 10 Downing Street on Tuesday

THE government reshuffle, which was announced on Tuesday, has been watched closely by faith groups and aid agencies.

Baroness Warsi, who was co-chairman of the Conservative Party, has been appointed Senior Minister for Faith and Communities. Earlier this year, she called for Christians to be more confident in the face of "militant secularisation" (News, 17 February).

Lynne Featherstone, who as Equalities Minister has been driving the Government's consultation on the introduction of civil marriage for same-sex couples (News, 23 September 2011), has moved to a post at the Department for International Development (DFID).

Derek McAuley, the chief officer of the General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches, said that Ms Featherstone's departure would "bring uncertainty" about plans to introduce same-sex marriage.

Justine Greening, who was Transport Secretary, has replaced Andrew Mitchell as International Development Secretary.

The director of Christian Aid, Loretta Minghella, welcomed Ms Greening's new appointment, but said that Christian Aid remained "impatient to see the Government be more ambitious, especially in helping to end aid-dependency. Aid alone will never end poverty, so we'd like to see DfID implement a credible exit strategy from aid."

Tearfund's parliamentary officer, Rosanne White, warned that the Government's commitments to global poverty "must not be drowned out by short-term political point-scoring, or in appeasing the concerns of staunch party members. Let's hope that Justine Greening has the bottle to stand her ground."

The World Development Movement said in a statement that, under Mr Mitchell's leadership, British aid policy had taken "an alarming turn towards promoting the interests of business over the needs of the world's poorest people. . .

"Justine Greening's previous support for tough climate-change laws suggests a stronger commitment to justice than her predecessor. Her challenge will be to reverse the direction taken by Andrew Mitchell, and to ensure that aid is truly a contribution to global equity, not a business opportunity."

The appointment of Chris Grayling as Justice Secretary was welcomed by the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), a Right-leaning think-tank. The managing director of the CSJ, Christian Guy, said that he was sure that Mr Grayling would "continue the Government's drive to cut reoffending and slow the revolving-door culture that has blighted the country's criminal-justice system over the years".

The Prison Reform Trust urged Mr Grayling "to build on the important programme of justice reform" begun by his predecessor, Ken Clarke, now Minister without Portfolio.


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