Shock government move hands John Penrose brief despite Vaizey speech at RIBA this week

John Penrose has replaced Ed Vaizey as architecture minister in a shock move after Culture department officials had initially confirmed the Vaizey had been given the brief.

Vaizey, who has shadowed the architecture portfolio for the last four years for the Conservatives, spoke as architecture minister at the RIBA annual lecture on Tuesday. However today a spokeswoman at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport attempted to claim he had never been formally given the job.

The spokeswoman also declined to comment on reports the shift had been made because of a potential conflict of interest of Department for Culture, Media and Sport colleague John Penrose, who is married to Talk Talk managing director Dido Harding. She said: “The portfolios were never confirmed and the appointments are a matter for Number10.”

The move could potentially be a blow to industry and to design quango Cabe, which Vaizey was publicly very supportive of. Vaizey was known not to be supportive of plans being considered by then shadow Communities ministers to strip the quango of its funding. The Communities department is the joint sponsor and funder of Cabe.

He was also seen as a passionate advocate for design, with Penrose an unknown quantity.

Vaizey told Building on Tuesday: “My priority will be to embed good design, particularly in the housebuilding industry. I’m a real supporter of Cabe - the challenge will be how to make it more effective.”

The full Department for Culture, Media and Sport ministerial responsibilities are as follows:

John Penrose, minister for tourism and heritage:

  • Tourism
  • Heritage and the Built Environment
  • Royal Parks and Royal Household
  • National Lottery
  • Licensing
  • Gambling
  • Horseracing

Hugh Robertson MP, minister for sport and the Olympics:

  • Sport
  • London 2012 Olympics and Paralympic Games

Ed Vaizey, minister for culture, communications and creative industries (joint minister with the business and innovation department):

  • Arts
  • Media
  • Museums and Galleries
  • Telecoms and Broadband
  • Digital Switchover
  • Creative Industries
  • Libraries