Graham Watts welcomes Ian Pearson, but wonders if construction will be his top priority
Raynsford, Wilson, Griffiths, Michael, Hodge, Timms, Vadera. Not a roll call at some posh prep school but a list of all those who have been construction minister since 2001: seven of them, in seven years. Not the best of records.
The new minister, Ian Pearson, will have responsibility for some of the business and enterprise department (BERR) and some of the Treasury, although the weighting of his interest in these two is evident from a press release, dated 6 October, in which he welcomed the challenge of his appointment as the economic secretary at the Treasury and later acknowledged that he will have some further responsibilities at BERR.
Looking on the bright side, Pearson seems a hard-working and thorough minister with a CV that already includes a stint as a trade minister at the Foreign Office, a climate change minister at Defra and science minister at the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills, all of which are important foundations for the construction minister position.
It is, however, a shame to have lost Shriti Vadera after eight months. She may not have had much time to attend industry cheese and wine events, but she had influence where it mattered and a capacity for seeing straight to the heart of the big issues.
Her new role in the Cabinet Office, with a seat on the National Economic Council, would have sat perfectly with the significant importance of construction to the current economic situation. But, it’s not to be.
The good thing is that she still knows who to talk to in the industry for straight advice and to be able to get things done.
Meanwhile, we look forward to working with Ian Pearson and can only hope that he lasts a little longer than the others.
Graham Watts is chief executive of the Construction Industry Council