Defra ministerial appointments – latest updates

Keep checking here for latest updates on developments at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) following the election of Liz Truss as prime minister.


Lord Benyon reappointed

Lord Benyon has been reappointed as parliamentary under secretary of state at Defra.

Mr Benyon is the only Defra minister to have his responsibilities confirmed so far and he will be ‘minister for rural affairs and biosecurity’.

Lord Benyon was reappointed to Defra on 21 September

His responsibilities include overseeing environment targets and the 25 year environment plan strategy, as well as domestic green finance, green jobs and finance markets for nature and the environment.

Lord Benyon was MP for Newbury from May 2005 to November 2019, and was raised to the Peerage in January 2021. In May last year, he was appointed to Defra.

He becomes the fourth Defra minister under Liz Truss as prime minister, and will work with the environment secretary of state, Ranil Jayawardena.


Scott Mann joins as junior minister

As part of the reshuffle within the new Liz Truss administration, Scott Mann has received his first ministerial appointment as parliamentary under secretary of state at Defra.

Mr Mann has been Conservative MP for North Cornwall since 2015 and previously represented the Wadebridge West ward on Cornwall council between 2009 and 2016.

Scott Mann has been Conservative MP for North Cornwall since 2015 (picture: UK Parliament)

Prior to joining Defra on 20 September, Mr Mann was government whip (Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury) from 22 January 2021.

Defra has yet to announce the exact details of Mr Mann’s brief.

He is known to take an interest in recycling, as in March 2018 he welcomed the announcement that a deposit return scheme for plastic bottles was to be introduced.

At the time, he said: “The UK is recycling more and becoming conscious about the effects of plastic waste, but there is more to do and I think deposit return schemes could be a huge step in protecting the environment.”


Zac Goldsmith steps down

Zac Goldsmith has stepped down from his role as environment minister at Defra, with reports in the national media that he was sacked by the new Prime Minister, Lis Truss. 

Mr Goldsmith, who backed Truss in the leadership campaign, has been removed from his post covering domestic animal welfare, but will retain his position as minister of state for the Pacific and international environment.

Zac Goldsmith publicly criticised new Defra minister Mark Spencer in July (picture: House of Lords)

This comes amid a public fallout between the peer and Mark Spencer, who was appointed to Defra last week.

During the leadership battle, he said any plans to appoint Spencer as secretary of state would be “grim news for nature”.

Mr Spencer was appointed to Defra on 7 September, with Goldsmith stepping down on 16 September.


Harrison appointed to Defra

A former Copeland borough council employee, Trudy Harrison, was appointed parliamentary under secretary of state in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on 7 September 2022.

Ms Harrison became a parliamentary private secretary to the last prime minister, Boris Johnson, in 2019.

Trudy Harrison, Copeland MP, who has been appointed as a junior Defra minister

Ms Harrison was previously minister of state at the Department for Transport from 7 July 2022 to September 2022 and parliamentary under secretary of state at the Department for Transport (DfT) from 17 September 2021 to July 2022.

No details have yet been released by Defra as at 12 September about her remit in the department. But with experience at the local authority level and of renewables, she is seen as potentially taking on the recycling and waste management brief.

Elected Conservative MP for Copeland in 2017, she had worked at Sellafield for 5 years as a technical clerk before setting up and running a childcare business. Following a career break, a Defra biography explained that Trudy was employed by Copeland Borough Council, first as a locality officer and then as community regeneration officer. Trudy left Copeland borough council in 2013 to work as a programme manager for investors specialising in renewable energy and sustainable community projects.

She holds a foundation degree in Sustainable Communities from the University of Salford is married and has 4 daughters.


Mark Spencer

After Liz Truss announced the appointment of Ranil Jayawardena as the secretary of state for environment on 6 September, the North East Hampshire MP is now busy picking the Defra ministerial team.

His first appointment has been Sherwood MP Mark Spencer, who has responsibilities for fisheries, farming and food.

New Defra minister, Mark Spencer

So far, we know the existing minister with responsibility for recycling, Steve Double, has returned to the backbenches after being in the role for just eight weeks. This means the spot is up for grabs.

In a statement, he said: “It has been a huge honour to serve as a part of Boris Johnson’s government for the past three years. First as PPS to the Health Secretary, as a government whip and for the past 8 weeks as a Minister in Defra.

Sadly, I have been informed that the new Prime Minister no longer has a place for me in her government. I accept that she needs to build her own team to take us through the huge challenges of the coming months and years. I hoped I could continue to contribute to this as a part of government but sadly it is not to be.”

Defra told letsrecycle.com: “Ministerial portfolios are still being confirmed but they will be published on the Defra homepage as soon as they have been finalised.”

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