New OT Minister appointed

| 14/10/2008

(CNS): In Gordon Brown’s latest Cabinet reshuffle The British Prime Minister has ousted the Overseas Territories Minister Meg Munn who has returned to the back benches and replaced her with Gillian Merron. The Labour MP for Lincoln was previously Minister for International Development, where she had particular responsibility for Africa. Merron was elected as a Member of Parliament for Lincoln in 1997 having been selected from a women-only list.

As the Cayman Islands faces its second round of constitutional talks with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office it may also see a shift in priorities under the new minister. As yet Merron has made no comment with regards to her responsibilities towards the Overseas Territories or Cayman’s constitutional negotiations.

The territory currently making headlines and which appears to be occupying the new ministers agenda is Pitcairn Island where woman have finally been offered compensation from the UK government after years of systematic abuse of young girls in the community which reportedly began in the 1950s. "What happened to these women was terrible and no amount of money will take that pain away,” she said last week. “But I hope this will give them some recognition of their suffering. This is a significant step and it is the right thing to do."

 It is understood that Merron’s interests range from vocational training to transport and sport. David Milliband the UK Foreign Secretary said he was very pleased to welcome Merron to the fold last week.

Merron won the weathervane seat of Lincoln comfortably at her first attempt, after boundary changes made it once again winnable for Labour. In her first term in Parliament she served as a PPS to two Ministers at the Ministry of Defence, when she visited the Falkland Islands. She returned again in 2001 with only a fractional swing to the Conservatives and spent a year as PPS to John Reid as Northern Ireland Secretary. In 2002 she became an assistant Government Whip, and a full Government Whip from 2004 until her promotion to Cabinet Office Minister and Minister for the East Midlands at the Cabinet Office (June 2007 – January 2008) to the Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Department of Transport (2006 – 2007). 

After four years as a Parliamentary aide and four more as a Whip, she finally ‘took off’ as junior Aviation Minister at the Department for Transport in 2006. A year later she moved sideways to the Cabinet Office, where Gordon Brown made her Parliamentary Secretary for Social Exclusion and the Civil Service. She also became Minister for the East Midlands. In January 2008 she moved sideways again was the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State to the Department for International Development (DFID) (January 2008 – October 2008) in the reshuffle following Peter Hain’s resignation. 

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