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Burnham replaces Purnell as culture secretary

LONDON - The government has appointed Andy Burnham, chief secretary to the Treasury, as culture secretary, after moving James Purnell to the Department of Work and Pensions.

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Purnell, who took over from Tessa Jowell, lasted just six months in his post before the resignation of Work and Pensions minister Peter Hain necessitated the switch.

Burnham is currently the chief secretary to the Treasury, but has past experience within the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, where he worked as a special advisor to culture secretary Chris Smith from 1998 to 2001.

He entered Parliament in 2001 by winning the safe Labour seat of Leigh in Greater Manchester.

Since then, he worked at the Home Office and the Department for Health before moving to the Treasury in the same June 2007 reshuffle that promoted Purnell to culture secretary.

The London 2012 Olympics will be his main area of focus, but he will also have to decide what to do with several broadcasting issues that arose under his predecessor.

Purnell very recently headed off further restrictions on food and drink advertising in favour of an anti-obesity strategy, which committed to a marketing push encouraging a health eating message.

He also stirred up the broadcasting world last week by saying that the Government would consider carving up the BBC licence fee among other broadcasters.

Left-winger Hain resigned yesterday, after the escalation of scandal surrounding undeclared donations of £103,000, backing his bid for the post of deputy leader of the Labour Party.

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