Reshuffle: Liz Truss moves to Environment; Matthew Hancock takes on construction

Continuity was the key message government wished to give to industry if today’s reshuffle is anything to go by as key players in departments like Treasury and Transport remained in place. George Osborne and Danny Alexander stay at Treasury, Patrick McLoughlin is still leading the charge for transport and HS2 at DfT and Eric Pickles is still in control of local government.

The highest profile change for the infrastructure sector was at the Department of Environment where flood damaged Owen Paterson lost his job as Secretary of State, to be replaced by former Department of Education under-secretary Liz Truss (38). Truss comes to the role with no history of involvement in environmental issues. She represents what could be called the “new Right” tendency in the Conservative Party and was a management accountant before winning her South West Norfolk seat in 2010. While Paterson was anti-EU and anti regulation, the expectation is that Truss will be more sympathetic to regulatory requirements.

 Highly regarded construction minister Michael Fallon (62) has moved to one of the top government posts as Secretary of State for Defence, replacing new Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond. He was a minister of state at Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and at Department of Energy & Climate Change where he was in charge of oil and gas exploration. Fallon has been a strong supporter of fracking.

His replacement as construction minister is one time Bank of England housing economist Matthew Hancock (36), previously minister for skills and enterprise.  Hancock is also made minister for energy taking over from Greg Barker who has left the government.

In 2011 Hancock backed a campaign against housing development at Newmarket in his constituency and the dualling of the A11. His adventurous, charitable spirit will appeal to industry – Hancock has been a fundraiser for Cancer Research and stroke victim charity the Dom Pardey Charitable Trust and he took part in an expedition to play cricket at the North Pole but had to be airlifted out after succumbing to frostbite. And in a sector enamoured of ‘race days’, industry will have its own amateur jockey. His experience of the skills portfolio will be welcomed too as industry faces up to the challenge of yet another skills shortage.

In other moves former PPS to Philip Hammond at Defence, Penny Mordaunt, has become a parliamentary under-secretary at Department for Communities & Local Government replacing planning minister Nick Boles who has gone to BIS as minister of state for business, innovation and skills, and education.

Greg Clark has become minister for universities and science along with the role of minister of state in the Cabinet Office (cities and constitution); anti wind farm campaigner John Hayes keeps his role of minister of state for the Cabinet Office but is also now a minister at Department for Transport.

Former assistant Government whip Claire Perry becomes parliamentary undersecretary of state at DfT. Former George Osborne aide Amber Rudd becomes a junior minister at DECC responsible for the carbon budget and green industries.

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