NFU VIDEO TRIBUTE: Sacked on a Tuesday, knighted on a Wednesday- all part of life’s rich tapestry for SE Cambs MP Jim Paice

IT was billed on the Conservative Home website as “some final bits of news” but for Ely MP Jim Paice it was a case of balancing bad news – his sacking- with good news- his knighthood.

IT was billed on the Conservative Home website as “some final bits of news” but for Ely MP Jim Paice it was a case of balancing bad news – his sacking- with good news- his knighthood.

Prime Minister David Cameron let slip through his official Downing Street spokesman the Queen had been recommended to knight the outgoing farms minister

Mr Paice was one of a handful ministers sacked in the re shuffle who can look forward to a knighthood as part compensation for loss of office and part reward for services to the Conservative Party and to the country.

Technically, of course, ministers resign rather than get fired but as farmers’ leader Peter Kendall remarked to a Farmers Guardian journalist: “You couldn’t bullshit Jim Paice. He knew enough about farming and he could see through it so he brought some real credibility to the job.”


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One farmer remarked on an industry web forum that he “found it astonishing not only that a senior minister can be given this sort of news via a phone call, but also when he is on official business at what is the premier livestock event in the UK.”

Mr Paice got a phone call from Prime Minister David Cameron whilst he was visiting a trade fair in Birmingham.

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The 63 year-old MP and one of the oldest members of Cameron’s Government, is to be replaced by Lib Dem David Heath, the MP for Somerton and Frome.

Mr Paice has been MP for SE Cambs since 1987 and has been the farms minister for two years. He recently said he had hoped to continue in the role to see through issues such as the badger cull to alleviate TB and to create better conditions for farmers.

Ironically Mr Paice has just completed delicate negotiations to secure a voluntary code of conduct for the dairy industry.

In a statement, Mr Paice said: “Obviously I am disappointed at losing my position as Minister of Agriculture and Food, it was a job close to heart and throughout nearly two-and-a-half years I tried hard to help the industry to adapt to change and for the food industry to play its part in economic recovery.

“After 23 years continuous service on the Conservative front bench both in government and in opposition it will be a great change to move to backbenches. “Nevertheless I am privileged to have been able to serve and I shall now devote my time to my constituency and with my family.

“As I have said repeatedly to farmers change should be seen as an opportunity – that applies to me now!”

Mr Paice is married to Ava and has two grown-up sons.

On his website he says in what little spare time he has he enjoys tending his small herd of Highland Cattle and various country pursuits.

In 1997 and after the General Election he was appointed Opposition Spokesman on Agriculture and has remained on the front bench ever since. Following the 2001 General Election, he was appointed Shadow Minister for Police. Then in September 2004 he was promoted to Shadow Minister for Agriculture and Rural Affairs - a position he retained until the General Election in 2010.

In the General Election in 2010 he was re-elected for a sixth term as MP for South East Cambridgeshire. Following the announcement of the formation of the Coalition Government in May 2010, the Prime Minister appointed him as Minister of State for Agriculture and Food.

“His brief includes farming, food, animal health, and forestry and keeps him very busy,” says a shortly to be amended footnote to his website.

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