Major fills void left by peer's departure

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The Independent Online
JOHN MAJOR has sought to create as little upheaval as possible in the second mini-reshuffle in less than a week, writes Patricia Wynn Davies.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish, 55, steps into the awkward void left by the abrupt departure of Lord Caithness, the experienced former Minister of State at the Department of Transport. The portfolio will be undertaken at the lower level of Under-Secretary by Lord Mackay, a former Lords whip, whose replacement will be announced later.

Nicknamed 'MacTebbit' for his common-touch style when an MP from 1979 to 1987, John Mackay was tipped for ministerial office on becoming a peer in 1991. Lord Strathclyde, 33, an insurance broker, is promoted from Under-Secretary to the Minister of State at the Department of Trade and Industry.

Baroness Denton of Wakefield, who was appointed Under-Secretary at the Department of the Environment last September, and the Earl of Arran, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Northern Ireland Office since 1982, replace each other.

Number 10 declined to give a reason for the exchange of jobs. But it means the Northern Ireland Office has a female minister for the first time. She is a vociferous campaigner for more women in public fields.