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The new PM arrives at No. 10
 
 
 
 
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Dr Mowlam: "the ball in is Sinn Fein's court"
 
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Ms Short lays out her priorities
 
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Mr Cook's foreign policy plans

The Prime Minister's First Cabinet

The new Prime Minister, Tony Blair, has completed the appointment of his first cabinet and the government has now been sworn in at the "Kissing of Hands" ceremony at Buckingham Palace.

A raft of government ministers are to be appointed later today with Blairites like Tessa Jowell expected to be duly rewarded. Campaign manager Peter Mandelson, the chief architect of Mr Blair's success, is reported to be in line for a high ranking ministerial position, responsible for policy coordination.

Mr Blair faced a few tricky obstacles over the appointment of his new cabinet as his shadow cabinet contained 26 members whereas the cabinet proper only has 22 salaried posts available. Three of Mr Blair's shadow cabinet were appointed rather than elected so he was faced with trying to fit 23 people in to 22 places. Left-winger Michael Meacher has been left out - but there are a record 5 women at the cabinet table.

Frank Dobson has been rewarded for his active and combative role in Labour's long years of opposition with a key Cabinet position - Secretary of State for Health.

The new Agriculture Secretary is Jack Cunningham . He was previously the shadow National Heritage Secretary. He was one of the brains behind the plan Labour unveiled during the election campaign to use 1 billion of profits from the Wednesday National Lottery draw for a series of new projects designed to match "the people's priorities". Dr Cunningham is one of the most experienced members of the new Cabinet team, having been a junior minister under the previous Labour Prime Minister James (now Lord) Callaghan, to whom he had once been parliamentary aide.

Former shadow Agriculture Minister Gavin Strang has been appointed Minister of Transport.

Ron Davies has been appointed the Secretary of State for Wales; he has been Shadow Welsh Secretary since 1992. He is the first Welshman to hold the post for ten years. Although he will be warmly welcomed in the Valleys his arrival in Whitehall may be cause the Prince of Wales some discomfort. Mr Davies has made no secret of his republican views. Mr Davies will be a key figure in implementing New Labour's plans to set up an assembly in Wales.

short
Clare Short: Secretary of State for International Development

Earlier Mr Blair proved that speculation surrounding the future of Clare Short was unfounded.

Ms Short arrived at Downing Street soon after 11 O'clock and emerged half an hour later to confirm that she had appointed Secretary of State for International Development. She added that she was "very pleased" with the appointment, "I am delighted that the government has created a separate department for International Development. This means that development, and strategies for the elimination of poverty, will be at the centre of our objectives for government."

During the last parliament Ms Short was moved from Transport to Overseas Development following controversial comments that were said to have displeased the party leadership.

Donald Dewar, previously Labour's chief whip, was made Secretary of State for Scotland. Mr Dewar said tonight : "It is a challenge because Scotland is now firmly on the path towards the biggest change in its constitution for nearly 300 years. The achievement of devolution of power to a directly-elected Scottish Assembly will be my first priority as Secretary of State. The people of Scotland have enthusiastically supported the principle of devolution and will have the chance to endorse it formally in a referendum at the earliest possible opportunity."

Mr Dewar takes over from George Robertson who held the post in opposition. Mr Robertson arrived at Downing Street later and it was soon confirmed that he is to take over from Michael Portillo as Defence Secretary. This means that another post will have to be found for former shadow Defence Secretary David Clark. Chris Smith has been appointed the National Heritage Secretary. He is Labour's former spokesman on health.

In other announcements Harriet Harman was confirmed as Social Security Secretary with Frank Field as her number two. He will take responsibility for long-term planning within the DSS. Mr Field's appointment comes as rather a surprise as he is often considered to be among the party's 'radicals'. Ann Taylor becomes Leader of the House, David Clark becomes the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, and Alistair Darling Chief Secretary to the Treasury.

mowlam
Dr Mowlam on walkabout in Belfast
 
Mo Mowlam is confirmed as Northern Ireland Secretary, and in a change of style from her predecessor spent the first day in her new post in Belfast on a walkabout in the city centre. One of her top priorities will be reforming the Royal Ulster Constabulary. In a statement issued tonight Ms Mowlam said the new government would be taking initiatives to "expand and reinforce the protection of individual rights; to reform policing and to ensure equality in employment".

She also outlined her commitment to making early progress towards a political settlement and her position on Sinn Fein's entry into talks. "We want Sinn Fein to join these negotiations, the talks are open to them. But if Sinn Fein want negotiations they know what must be done: if there is an unequivocal restoration of the IRA ceasefire, demonstrated in words and deeds they could join the process. No one can combine terrorism and democracy."

A Downing Street spokesperson ruled out speculation that the BP chairman Sir David Simon would be offered a government position as Minister for Europe - possibly based in the House of Lords. The spokesman confirmed that discussions had taken place but said that Sir David was not going to be offered a ministerial position.

cook
Robin Cook: Foreign Secretary

The Prime Minister made his senior cabinet appointments on Friday, shortly after his arrival at Downing Street. As expected, Gordon Brown was appointed Chancellor and Robin Cook Foreign Secretary. John Prescott was made Deputy Prime Minister, with special responsibilities for Environment, Transport and regional policy.

Jack Straw is the new Home Secretary. David Blunkett has been chosen as Secretary of State for Education and Employment. Margaret Beckett becomes President of the Board of Trade. Lord Irvine, who employed Tony Blair as a barrister in his chambers and introduced him to Cherie, is to be Lord Chancellor.

Other notable appointments include Jonathan Haslam, currently John Major's press secretary, who will become Head of Information at the Department of Education and Employment. Jonathan Powell, who was head of Mr Blair's office in opposition, becomes the Prime Minister's Chief of Staff.

Ministers not in the Cabinet announced today were Chief Whip Nick Brown, Employment Minister of State Andrew Smith, Social Security Minister of State Frank Field, and Minister for the Environment Michael Meacher.

Mr Blair has announced that he will not take the full salary to which he is entitled.

The New Cabinet



Diana, Princess of Wales, 1961-1997

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