Construction minister defends her portfolio from criticism by Building columnist.

Construction minister Margaret Hodge has hit back at criticism of her role from John Spanswick, the chairman of the Major Contractors Group, asking the industry to "judge me by what I do".

Speaking exclusively to Building, Hodge rebutted criticisms made in Spanswick's column in this magazine on 2 June. In it, he argued that responsibility for construction should move from the DTI to the Treasury, where it would have more "power and authority".

Hodge said construction would have less influence in another department. "I have responsibility for all of industry and construction sits well within that. The core objective of this department is to support industry, particularly with the challenges of globalisation. If construction was in the Treasury, it would be procurement that mattered most; in the Department for Communities and Local Government it would be housing; in Environment, sustainability."

If construction was in the Treasury, it would be procurement that mattered most

Margaret Hodge, construction minister

Hodge responded to suggestions that the size of her brief meant that construction could be neglected by arguing that it allowed the industry's views to reach a wider stage. She cited the Company Law Reform Bill, which has had clauses added as a result of the problems faced by contractors threatened by animal rights protesters.

Hodge admitted that the public sector's fragmentation meant that it was not a good client, and she said the government would learn the lessons of BAA's non-confrontational procurement strategy at Heathrow Terminal 5. She said: "It's the first site I'm visiting to see how good relationships between client, contractor and suppliers can lead to better projects."