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September 5, 2023updated 06 Sep 2023 8:54am

Labour hands DSIT brief to Peter Kyle in Keir Starmer’s shadow cabinet reshuffle

The opposition now has a shadow tech minister, six months after the government reorganised the Whitehall department.

By Ryan Morrison

Labour has appointed its first shadow secretary of state for science, innovation and technology six months after the government created its new tech department. Former Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Kyle will take up the role, and declared his excitement about his new portfolio in a social media post he says was “drafted by AI”.

Peter Kyle
Peter Kyle has been given the DSIT brief by Labour leader Keir Starmer. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

The Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT) was formed in February this year with parts of the remit previously held by the Department for Business, Energy and Industry Strategy and parts from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. Its remit includes the promotion of AI. 

Now Labour leader Keir Starmer has created a post in his shadow cabinet to mirror the work of DSIT secretary Michelle Donelan as part of a wider reshuffle of the opposition’s top team, and has handed Peter Kyle the role.

Kyle’s appointment comes as DSIT announced more details of the upcoming AI Safety Summit, set to be held at Bletchley Park in November. It will bring together leading AI countries, experts in AI and companies to discuss how best to ensure the safe use of the technology, including potential guardrails and regulations.

Posting on X, the social network formerly known as Twitter, Kyle said he had an AI tool draft his response to the news: “So happy to take on the role of Shadow Secretary of State for Science, Innovation, and Technology,” he wrote. “Together, we’ll foster innovation, strengthen our tech sector, and ensure science fuels economic growth and prosperity. Excited for the opportunities ahead!”

MP for Hove in East Sussex, Peter Kyle has a doctorate in community development and before becoming an MP in 2015 worked as chief executive of Working for Youth, a charity focused on helping unemployed young people. During his time in parliament, he served as shadow justice minister and shadow education minister before moving to take up the role of shadow secretary of state for Northern Ireland in 2021. 

Speaking to his local newspaper the Argus, Kyle described science and technology as “crucial parts of our economy”, declaring his desire to learn from and help grow all the small and large businesses working to lead the world in their field. 

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He went on: “We have a lot of work to do to make sure we fully capitalise on all the opportunities presented by technological progress and make sure we keep people, and especially young people, safe as technology evolves so swiftly.”

Jonathan Reynolds was the previous shadow secretary of state for the former BEIS department before the reshuffle and has now been moved to business and trade. Lucy Powell held the shadow secretary role for DCMS and she has now been made shadow leader of the House of Commons.

Read more: So what are Labour’s tech policies, exactly?

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