BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: UK: Politics  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
England
N Ireland
Scotland
Wales
Politics
Education
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Thursday, 30 May, 2002, 05:10 GMT 06:10 UK
Transport challenge 'will take time'
Improving Britain's crumbling transport system will "take time", new Transport Secretary Alistair Darling has told BBC News.


It will take time but I am determined to see it through

Alistair Darling, Transport Secretary
But he stressed the investment was in place to make a difference in the longer term.

"We have got the money. My job is to make sure that that money is translated into improvements in train running times and improvements in performance," Mr Darling told BBC political editor Andrew Marr.

Mr Darling has been drafted in by Tony Blair to replace Stephen Byers, who quit the job on Tuesday after months of mounting pressure.

'Determined'

Mr Darling - widely seen as one of the government's greatest assets - is replaced at the Department of Work and Pensions by Andrew Smith.

The new transport secretary will be charged with the crucial task of improving Britain's road and rail network in time for the next general election.

"It will take time but I am determined to see it through," Mr Darling said.

Cleared out

Mr Smith leaves his job as chief secretary to the Treasury and is succeeded by the UK's first ever black cabinet minister, Paul Boateng.


Alastair Darling
Mr Darling: Regarded as a safe pair of hands
Alistair Darling
  • MP for Edinburgh Central since 1987
  • Work and Pensions Secretary 1998-2002
  • Chief Secretary to the Treasury 1996-97
  • A former solicitor and advocate, he is married with two children


  • Stephen Byers announced his departure at a hastily-arranged press conference at 10 Dowing Street press conference on Tuesday.

    He said his continued presence on the frontbenches would damage the government.

    He admitted he had "made mistakes" but insisted he was not a liar.

    His departure was quickly followed by that of the transport department's top civil servant, Sir Richard Mottram, who has been moved to the department of work and pensions.

    That means that all the key players in the 'spingate' row, including former special adviser Jo Moore and head of media Martin Sixsmith, have been cleared out of the transport department.

    From dome to home

    Difficulties there have also prompted the decision to slim down the department's portfolio.

    Mr Darling will handle transport while Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott will take charge of the regions once more.

    Dome minister Lord Falconer, meanwhile, goes to the Home Office where he will be in charge of criminal justice.

    Paul Boateng
    Mr Boateng continues his steady rise in government
    David Miliband has been appointed Schools Minister to replace Stephen Timms who becomes a Minister of State at the Department of Trade and Industry.

    Mr Darling arrived at his new department shortly after his appointment to declare: "I'm very much looking forward to my new job, thank you very much."

    Mr Byers acknowledged his decision not to sack Ms Moore after her notorious e-mail urging colleagues to "bury bad news" on 11 September had contributed to his departure.

    He also blamed vengeful Railtrack shareholders in the City.

    Mr Blair - who stood by Mr Byers as allegations against him mounted up - said he "understood and respected" his decision.

     WATCH/LISTEN
     ON THIS STORY
    The BBC's Andrew Marr
    "There's a whole cascade of power shifts going on"
    New Transport Secretary Alistair Darling
    "It will take time but I am determined to see it through"
    Shadow transport secretary Theresa May
    "He has inherited quite a mess"

    Latest stories

    Analysis

    Byers resignation

    Main players

    TALKING POINT

    AUDIO VIDEO
     VOTE RESULTS
    Was Stephen Byers right to resign?

    Yes
     84.15% 

    No
     15.85% 

    13895 Votes Cast

    Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

    See also:

    29 May 02 | UK Politics
    30 May 02 | Middle East
    30 May 02 | UK Politics

    E-mail this story to a friend



    © BBC ^^ Back to top

    News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
    South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
    Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
    Programmes