Lord Rooker walks the plank.. or was he pushed?

When Secretary of State for Wales and Northern Ireland Peter Hain announced the NIO ministerial portfolios yesterday he was adamant that Lord Rooker was an integral member of the crew – “I have asked Jeff Rooker to take personal charge of the whole programme of radical reform following the Review of Public Administration, from local government rates to the introduction of water charges.” Today, in a completely unexpected move, it’s been announced that Lord Rooker is, in effect, leaving the NIO [despite the official spin – Ed] and joining the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in Whitehall [he’s still Spokesman on NI in the Lords – Ed] The new crew member is Inverclyde MP David Cairns and the ministerial portfolios have been redistributed.The new ministerial porfolios are as follows, according to the NIO, and assuming there isn’t another change –

David Hanson MP – Political Development, Criminal Justice, Department for Social Development (DSD), Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM) and Department of Finance and Personnel (DFP). The Minister will retain responsibility for the Maze development. The Minister will have special responsibility for victims.

Maria Eagle MP – Department for Employment and Learning (DEL), Department of Education (DE), Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETI) and Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL) and Minister for Children.

Paul Goggins MP – Security, Policing, Prisons and Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS)

David Cairns MP – Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD), Department for Regional Development (DRD), Department of the Environment (DoE).

Lord Rooker – Northern Ireland Business in the House of Lords.

Also worth noting is this from the NIO statement –

Mr Cairns will retain his Ministerial responsibilities in the Scotland Office.[he was appointed as the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland in 2005]