Margaret Beckett, president of the Board of Trade in the new Labour cabinet, has awarded the science and technology portfolio to John Battle, MP for Leeds West.
Battle will have to juggle science and technology with other issues in his wide brief, including manufacturing and services, telecomms, energy and the environment. This raised questions of whether IT is being downgraded in the new government's priorities, despite its avowed commitment to IT policies such as computers in schools and the superhighway.
Battle, who lists modern poetry, and medieval and folk music as hobbies, has been MP for Leeds West since 1987. He has been opposition spokesperson on energy, science and housing.
He replaces Geoff Hoon, the most recent Labour science and technology spokesperson, who has been promoted to the Lord Chancellor?s Department as parliamentary secretary.
Ian Taylor, the former Tory minister for science and technology retained his seat of Esher and Walton during last week?s elections.
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