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Margaret Beckett returns to cabinet as housing minister

Labour veteran Margaret Beckett has taken over from Caroline Flint as housing minister as part of Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s latest cabinet reshuffle.

The 65-year-old, who becomes the third housing minister this year, moves from her role as the head of the Prime Minister's Intelligence and Security Committee, which she has only held since January.

Beckett was deputy leader of the Labour Party from 1992 to 1994 and became the first female Foreign Secretary in 2006 after a five-year stint as the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

She was dropped by Brown when the Prime Minister moved into No. 10 in June 2007.

Meanwhile Flint, who was appointed as housing minister on 24 January, has now become minister for Europe.

Liz Peace, chief executive of the British Property Federation, was unimpressed by the switch. She said: ‘We despair at the turbulence of having such a turnover of ministers.

'Caroline Flint demonstrated a firm understanding of housing and planning policy, but after just nine months, and at a time when we need stability, we have a new minister.'

Peace added: ‘However, Margaret Beckett’s experience will be vital in helping reshape the fortunes of the housing market.’

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