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HBF Member Briefing - Briefing on today’s reshuffle

Date: 15/07/14

Briefing on today’s reshuffle

The Prime Minister has today conducted a wide-ranging reshuffle of the Conservative ministerial ranks which has included changes in key positions at the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

Brandon Lewis MP replaces Nick Boles MP as Minister of State with responsibility for Housing and Planning at the Department for Communities and Local Government. Lewis was already a minister at DCLG following his appointment as Local Government Minister in 2012. More on this appointment below.

Penny Mordaunt MP fills the vacancy at DCLG. She will also become Minister for Communities & Local Government with additional responsibility for Coastal Communities. More information on this appointment below.

Nick Boles MP will move to a Minister of State role working across both Department for Business, Innovation & Skills and Department for Education. His new brief will include skills.

Baroness Stowell’s promotion from CLG Minister to Leader of the House of Lords creates a possible vacancy in the department. Baroness Stowell had been speaking on behalf of the government during the passage of the relevant clauses (planning, public sector land) in the Infrastructure Bill.

Other ministerial roles in the department, including Secretary of State, Eric Pickles MP and Housing Minister, Kris Hopkins MP, remain unchanged.

Elsewhere, Liz Truss MP is promoted from the Department for Education to replace Owen Paterson MP as Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. More information on this appointment below. 

Minister for Cities, Greg Clark MP, has been handed an expanded brief to now also include Universities and Science.

Brandon Lewis MP, Minister for Housing and Planning

Brandon Lewis MP has been promoted within the Communities and Local Government ministerial team to Minister of State with responsibility for Housing and Planning.

Lewis was elected in 2010 for the seat of Great Yarmouth, gaining the seat from Labour. He was appointed as Parliamentary under-Secretary at DCLG in 2012. Since then he has had responsibility for local government, fire services, travellers, pubs and high streets. Prior to his appointment as a minister, Lewis founded the All Party Parliamentary Group on LEPs, enterprise zones and local growth.

A qualified barrister, prior to joining the House of Commons, he served for 12 years as a councillor on Brentwood Borough Council, including five years as Leader of the Council. During his time as leader, he co-hosted a local radio show called ‘The Eric and Brandon Show’ with local MP, Eric Pickles. As Leader, in 2005 Lewis was involved in a battle with the then Labour government after the council was instructed to find suitable sites for travellers in the area. The council refused, citing greenbelt classification. He said “What residents have a problem with is that if you want to live in a nice part of the country like Brentwood you can buy a caravan and stick it on the greenbelt.” Earlier this year, as minister responsible for travellers, strongly reiterated in a written ministerial statement that such sites constituted inappropriate development in the green belt.

Born in Essex, he attended Forest School in Walthamstow and completed an economics degree at the University of Buckingham. He is married with two children.

His appointment does not appear to affect the role of Kris Hopkins MP as Parliamentary under-Secretary for Housing.

Penny Mordaunt MP, Minister for Communities & Local Government and Minister for Coastal Communities

Penny Mordaunt MP joins the DCLG ministerial team as Minister for Communities & Local Government. She will also serve as Minister for Coastal Communities.

Mordaunt was elected in 2010, winning the seat of Portsmouth North from Labour having fought the seat unsuccessfully in 2005. From October 2013 she had been Parliamentary Private Secretary to Defence Secretary, Philip Hammond.

Mordaunt was politically active for many years prior to her selection as a parliamentary candidate, serving as Head of Youth for the Conservative Party in the 1990s, followed by a senior communications role for the Party under William Hague’s leadership. Subsequently she was Communications Director for the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea before becoming Director of Diabetes UK and establishing the Veterans Reunited programme, supporting veterans to visit battlefields.

In March 2013, Mordaunt spoke in a House of Commons debate on flood insurance to criticise the granting of planning permissions in areas at risk of flooding.

In June 2014 she became only the second woman during the reign of Elizabeth II to move the Loyal Address to open the Queen’s Speech debate. The speech was widely commended for its humour and national pride sentiments.

Liz Truss MP, Secretary of State for the Environment

Owen Paterson MP has been replaced as Secretary of State at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs by Liz Truss MP. Truss was also elected in 2010 to the safe Conservative seat of South West Norfolk. Truss unsuccessfully fought seats at the 2001 and 2005 General Elections.

As a student Truss was President of Oxford University Liberal Democrats and joined the Conservative Party in 1996. She was elected as a Councillor in the London Borough of Greenwich and served until 2010. Her previous employment includes roles as a Commercial Manager for Shell, Economics Director for Cable & Wireless and as a management accountant. From 2008 until her election in 2010 she was Deputy Director at the think tank, Reform. 

Following her election, Truss founded the Conservatives Free Enterprise Group and with four other members of the group, co-authored After the Coalition, promoting a more entrepreneurial culture in Britain.

David O’Leary
Deputy Director of External Affairs