Reshuffle links energy and business departments

29 March 2013
By Edd Gent
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John Hayes will leave the energy department where he has publicly clashed over policy with Secretary of State Ed Davey

John Hayes will leave the energy department where he has publicly clashed over policy with Secretary of State Ed Davey

David Cameron has announced a ministerial reshuffle that will strengthen ties between the energy and business departments.

Michael Fallon will add responsibility for energy to his brief in the business department and former energy minister John Hayes will become the Prime Minister's senior parliamentary adviser.

Hayes becomes a minister of state without portfolio in the Cabinet Office and has been appointed to the Privy Council, leaving a department where he has publicly clashed over policy with the Liberal Democrat Secretary of State Ed Davey.

The move, announced yesterday, is being seen as a promotion for Hayes and leaves Fallon as the senior Tory in two departments led by Lib Dems – under Mr Davey at the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and Vince Cable at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).

A source said Fallon's appointment would give energy "a stronger business focus", and insiders were playing down any suggestion that it signalled a shift in the Conservative approach to wind farms, on which Hayes is a noted sceptic.

There is little secret that Davey had a difficult relationship with Hayes during his six-month stint at DECC, though it is not thought that this was the primary reason for his move.

"John and I have worked well together as an effective team, and I'm especially grateful for his work on steering the Energy Bill through Parliament. I wish him well in his new post,” said Davey.

"I am delighted to welcome Michael Fallon to DECC. He brings with him a wealth of business experience and will make an excellent addition to the team. He will help to cement the links I've been making across Government as energy is such a critical industry for the UK's growth prospects, and the creation of green jobs.

"We will continue to implement the energy and climate change policies that this coalition Government has committed to, ensuring we can keep the lights on, people's energy bills down and cut emissions to tackle climate change."

A source at Davey's department said Fallon's appointment "makes perfect sense" and would strengthen links with business at a time when major private investment is needed in the energy sector.

DECC said that Fallon's position straddling two departments would help "join up the Government's work on low-carbon industries like nuclear and offshore wind and the supply chain".

"Both departments share a strong focus on business and the economy and I am delighted to be given the opportunity to build on their cross cutting work on this agenda,” said Fallon.

"This week has seen the launch of important industrial strategies for the nuclear and oil and gas sectors to secure future billions of investment, thousands of jobs and a diverse energy mix. A strategy for offshore wind will be completed in the coming weeks.

"Energy policy has a key role to play in securing sustainable future growth in the economy, strengthening supply chains, keeping people's bills down and tackling climate change."

The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) said in a statement that it welcomed the appointment of Fallon.

“The IET believes that the energy system needs to be considered as a whole when developing policy,” the statement read.

“The fact that the new Energy Minister is also continuing his role as Minister of State at BIS is a useful piece of joining up between Government departments underlining the need for reliable, affordable low carbon energy for industry as well as the important role of skills development and long-term UK jobs at all levels in the energy industry.  

“The priority now is to set a clear and consistent long term strategy for energy that will enable the UK to meet its decarbonisation targets while maintaining security of supply and affordability for consumers.”

Greenpeace policy director Doug Parr said Fallon's appointment represented an opportunity to "properly open Britain for green business".

"Britain is at a crossroads, with decisions being made now that will define how we get and use energy for the next 30 to 40 years," said Parr. "As such, Michael Fallon has a real opportunity to clean up our power sector, capitalise on clean, home-grown energy and properly open Britain for green business.

"In opposition he authored a law to drive investment in renewable energy, and as Deputy Chairman of the Conservatives he described the renewables sector as 'the work force of tomorrow'. We look forward to him putting this vision into practice and safeguarding green jobs and growth."

Shadow energy secretary Caroline Flint said: "It is worrying that, at a time when the Energy Bill is still going through Parliament, crucial negotiations for nuclear power are on-going and investors are losing confidence with this Government, David Cameron has chosen to appoint a part-time energy minister.

"In the next decade Britain needs to attract over £100bn of investment to keep the lights on. But David Cameron appears to think that keeping tabs on his unruly Tory backbenchers is more important than the country's energy policy. David Cameron now has four ministers without portfolio, paid for by the taxpayer, but only one part-time energy minister."

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