Former UK chief scientific adviser Patrick Vallance will serve as a minister under new science secretary Peter Kyle. The appointments were made by the country’s new prime minister Keir Starmer as he selected his team to run key government departments following the Labour party’s landslide win in last week’s general election.

A photograph of Patrick Vallance

Source: © Wiktor Szymanowicz/Future Publishing/Getty Images

Patrick Vallance will be given a life peerage, which will enable him to serve as a minister in the government’s science department 

The government’s science department will be headed up by Kyle, who had previously served in Starmer’s shadow cabinet. In a video posted online by the Department for Science Innovation and Technology (DSIT), Kyle claimed that his department would ‘turbocharge’ the country’s science sector by being the ‘partner it needs’ and said that he planned to ‘transform and improve’ the way researchers interact with the government. The previous science secretary, Conservative politician Michelle Donelan, lost her seat in last week’s vote.

Responding to the appointments, Daniel Rathbone, deputy executive director for the Campaign for Science and Engineering (CaSE), expressed relief that the new government would continue to include cabinet-level representation for science. ‘Having a dedicated cabinet level post for science is a great sign of the importance of R&D in the UK, and something we are glad the new Labour Government has chosen to continue,’ he said.

Kyle will be supported in DSIT by two ministers – Vallance and Chris Bryant. Clinical pharmacologist Vallance served as chief scientific adviser from 2018 until 2023 and rose to public prominence due to his involvement in the UK government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic. He previously held senior roles at the pharma giant GSK including as head of drug discovery and later as president of research and development. Bryant, a former priest, has been appointed as minister of state in DSIT and also in the government’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

Unlike most members of Starmer’s frontbench, Vallance is not a Labour MP. Instead, he will be given a life peerage, which will enable him to sit in the House of Lords and take on a ministerial role in government.

Other cabinet appointments include Rachel Reeves as chancellor of the exchequer, Bridget Phillipson as education secretary, Jonathan Reynolds as business secretary and Steve Reed as environment secretary. Former Labour party leader Ed Miliband has been appointed as the secretary of state for energy security and net zero. Miliband had previously served as secretary of state for energy and climate change from 2008 to 2010 during the last Labour government under then prime minister Gordon Brown.