Construction’s man at the DETR gains responsibility and a deputy as minister of state.
Construction minister Nick Raynsford has had housing and planning added to his portfolio as part of his promotion from undersecretary to minister of state in Tony Blair’s reshuffle last week.

He has also gained a new undersecretary, Beverley Hughes, who has construction as part of her brief.

Raynsford told Building: “Construction has gained a minister, which I am delighted about. Beverley is very bright, very experienced and very level-headed. I am sure she will work well with the industry.” Hughes, the 49-year-old MP for Stretford and Urmston, is an expert on social work.

As minister responsible for housing, Raynsford said his priority will be to work on Labour’s housing green paper, which will tackle problems with housing benefit and poorly maintained stock.

On planning, Raynsford said: “We want to speed up the planning process and to create an efficient, modern system which gives greater certainty to all.”

As minister for London, he will be pressing ahead with plans for the Greater London Authority and overseeing work on its new building.

Also at the DETR, ex-television presenter Lord MacDonald of Tradeston has been made a minister of state, and transport minister. The former Right to Reply frontman has no obvious links with construction or transport, apart from having worked as a marine fitter between 1955 and 1963.

He is joined by Birmingham Six campaigner and MP for Sunderland South, Chris Mullin, who becomes an undersecretary. Ex-Rail Maritime and Transport Union official and London MP Keith Hill also becomes an undersecretary.

John Spellar becomes minister of state responsible for the armed forces at the Ministry of Defence, having already driven through major changes to the ministry’s construction procurement policy.