Blair to adjudicate in power struggle

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Indy Politics

Tony Blair is to resolve a power struggle between the cabinet ministers Patricia Hewitt and Margaret Beckett over whose department should be responsible for energy policy.

At present, the job is split between Ms Hewitt's Department of Trade and Industry, which is in charge of most parts of the energy brief, and Mrs Beckett's Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, which oversees energy efficiency.

A consensus inside government argues the energy remit should be brought under one roof. "If we believe in joined-up government then it makes sense to put it all in one place," a Whitehall source said.

But a dispute is simmering over which department should be in charge. Ms Hewitt wants to expand her department to take over energy efficiency but Mrs Beckett argues it would boost the Government's "green" credentials if energy policy were located in her department.

The issue is coming to a head because Mr Blair is considering a major review of energy policy by the Downing Street performance and innovation unit. The unit's report is due to be published early next month.