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Last Updated: Monday, 10 November, 2003, 17:44 GMT
Tory cabinet drops Welsh post
Michael Howard
Howard: Lone Welsh voice around his shadow cabinet table.
The new Tory leader Michael Howard has announced his new top team - but there will not be a cabinet seat for the shadow Welsh secretary.

Nigel Evans, who had held the title, resigned on Monday when it emerged that the post was to be downgraded.

He said he had been offered the chance to continue with the post outside the cabinet, but decided instead to return to the backbenches.

The new shadow Welsh secretary was revealed on Monday as Bill Wiggin, the MP for Leominster. Until recently, London-born Mr Wiggin was a member of the Welsh Affairs Select Committee.

Bill Wiggins
London-born Bill Wiggin went to university in Bangor

He studied at the University College of North Wales, Bangor.

He will report to the new shadow secretary of state for local and devolved government - David Curry.

He will take responsibility for the nations and regions, including introducing devolution to England.

Mr Howard, the party's first Welsh leader, is to run a slimmed-down shadow cabinet of 12 MPs - almost half the size of Tony Blair's Cabinet.

The changes follow the prime minister's decision last June to combine the Welsh post with another cabinet role.

At the time the Conservatives accused the government of down-grading Wales.

Mr Evans said: "The Conservatives will continue to fight for a separate voice for Wales around the cabinet table - Wales deserves nothing less."

NEW SHADOW CABINET
Shadow chancellor - Oliver Letwin
Home affairs - David Davis
Health and education - Tim Yeo
Transport and environment - Theresa May
Local government secretary - David Curry
Joint chairmen - Liam Fox and Lord Saatchi
Chief whip - David Maclean
Shadow Lords leader - Lord Strathclyde
Shadow foreign secretary and deputy leader - Michael Ancram
Head of policy co-ordination - David Willetts

Secretary of State for Wales Peter Hain accused the Conservatives of hypocrisy when Monday's decision was announced, reminding them that they had criticised Labour's reshuffle plans which amalgamated the Wales and Scottish offices .

"Back in June they attacked what was an entirely common sense change," he said.

"As everyone now accepts, it has been business as usual for the Wales Office ever since - and for me as secretary of state.

"This decision just shows the utter contempt that the Tory Party still has for Wales. Not a single MP in Wales, and now not even bothering to ensure Wales' voice is heard at the top table of the Tory Party.

"The question for Michael Howard today is simple: would Wales be represented at the cabinet table in the nightmare scenario of a future Tory government?'

"Today's Tory snub to Wales suggests very clearly that it won't be. But voters in Wales deserve a clear answer."


SEE ALSO:
Howard unveils his top team
10 Nov 03  |  Politics
Welsh Tories welcome Howard
08 Nov 03  |  Wales
Howard crowned Tory leader
06 Nov 03  |  Politics
Howard mulls first shadow cabinet
08 Nov 03  |  Politics
Reaction: Howard's leadership
06 Nov 03  |  Politics


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