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Byers' successor seen as a safe pair of hands

Alistair Darling has been handed responsibility for resuscitating the Government's crisis-stricken 10-year transport policy after replacing Stephen Byers as Transport Secretary. Byers, who featured at No 50 in the AM Power List resigned after a troubled 12 months as Transport Secretary. He said remaining in office would damage the Govern- ment but he stood by his policy decisions: “I know that I have made mistakes but I have tried at all times to behave honourably and with the interest of the British people at heart.”

Darling, previously Work and Pensions Secretary, is seen as a safe pair of hands. He will concentrate solely on the transport issue, with the Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions effectively broken up and responsibility effectively handed to deputy Prime Minister John Prescott.

Prescott has since raised hackles by claiming the transport select committee's savaging of the much-trumpeted £180bn transport plan, which he originally devised, “knifed Byers in the back”. The committee said the strategy was failing to establish an integrated transport infrastructure and had created no viable alternatives to the car.

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