Former minister makes return while top Blairite is promoted

Beverley Hughes, the new Children's Minister, has supporters in high places.

Her mentor is David Blunkett, who originally encouraged her to stand for Parliament and took her with him to the Home Office in 2001, promoting her the following year to the sensitive job of Immigration Minister.

As she impressed with assertive television and Commons performances, Tony Blair privately remarked she was the best of the ministers who had filled the toughest post outside the Cabinet.

After her rise, Ms Hughes crashed to earth as evidence piled up about problems in the Immigration and Nationality Directorate. She was forced to resign 13 months ago after admitting she had inadvertently misled MPs over abuses of the system.

Labour's benches in the House of Commons were packed in support for the 55-year-old MP when she made her resignation speech. Nigel Morris

¿ Andrew Adonis could not have been a better choice as junior Education Minister if Prime Minister Tony Blair wants to adopt an "unremittingly new Labour agenda".

The 42-year-old former chief policy adviser at Downing Street is credited as the chief architect of Blair's plans to give the private sector a bigger say in running schools.

He is a supporter of the plan to set up a network of 200 privately sponsored academies to replace struggling secondary schools in inner city areas ­ and was a keen advocate of the decision to introduce top-up fees of up to £3,000 a year pushed through the Commons in the last administration.

He is a hate figure for critics of Tony Blair and the new Labour project and has had a love-hate relationship with all the Labour Education Secretaries he has had dealings with. Estelle Morris described him as a "necessary aggravation".

A former Liberal councillor in Oxford and former SDP member who was a disciple of Roy Jenkins and supporter of electoral reform, he switched to Labour in 1995 after Mr Blair had announced his plans to ditch "clause four" from the party's constitution.

Education sources predicted his appointment could be a "difficult prospect" for Ruth Kelly.

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