Hain named UK Energy Minister in Labour ministerial shuffle

UK Foreign Office Minister of State Peter Hain Thursday took up the post of Minister for Energy at the Department of Trade & Industry, as the country's Labour government rushed to complete an unscheduled cabinet and ministerial reshuffle prompted by the Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Mandelson's sudden resignation yesterday. Hain replaces Helen Liddell who takes over the cabinet post of Scottish Secretary.


LONDON�UK Foreign Office Minister of State Peter Hain Thursday took up the post of Minister for Energy at the Department of Trade & Industry, as Britain's Labour government rushed to complete an unscheduled cabinet and ministerial reshuffle prompted by the Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Mandelson's sudden resignation yesterday.

Hain, whose brief at the Foreign Office covered areas including the Middle East, Africa, southeast Asia, as well as environmental policy, replaces Helen Liddell, who takes over the cabinet post of Scottish Secretary from John Reid.

Reid has been named to succeed Mandelson, who stepped down over his role in brokering a British passport for a �1 million donation to the Millennium Dome.

A DTI spokeswoman said "no decision" had yet been taken as to Hain's remit at the department. But first suggestions have been that he will be focusing foremost on issues of economic reform in the European Union.

Most recently, Hain pledged �50,000 in environmental aid to the support efforts to protect the Galapagos Islands after the oil spill from the tanker Jessica. The Kenyan-born Hain has been touring African states -- including Ghana, Nigeria, and Cote d'Ivoire -- meeting key political figures, lecturing on peace-making, and developing a "modern, forward-looking partnership between Britain and Africa."

Some reports in the daily press hinted the Labour's transfer of Hain, a member of the Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament, was being seen as pre-emptive strike to shift a "potential critic" of new US President George W. Bush's "son of Star Wars" program at a delicate time in Anglo-American relations.

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