The sector has responded with dismay to the news that Stephen Timms, the construction minister, is to leave his post at the Department for Business,
He is to become the new employment and welfare reform minister at the Department for Work and Pensions. His new role is one of several announced in a Cabinet reshuffle – prompted by the resignation of Peter Hain, secretary of state for Work and Pensions.
He takes over from Caroline Flint, who becomes the new housing minister. Ms Flint replaces Yvette Cooper who has been promoted to chief secretary to the Treasury.
Lamenting the loss of Stephen Timms, Professor Rudi Klein, the Specialist Engineering Contractors’ Group, chief executive, said: “This is an extremely disappointing development for the construction industry. To lose such a good minister is, without doubt, a [setback].
“With his Treasury background, and understanding of public sector finances, Stephen was very good for the industry; he understood many of the problems facing the sector and he had a real desire to do good.
“As good as his replacement might be, there is no getting away from the fact that the industry will have to start all over again with someone new. It was probably the wrong thing to move Stephen on when, now more than ever, the industry is facing so many different challenges, such as the best practice, the Olympic Games and Cross Rail.”
Rod Pettigrew, HVCA head of commercial and legal, said: “It is with a degree of regret that we have lost Stephen Timms who was an intellectually able minister and who was starting to get to grips with the intricacies of the Construction Act. One would hope that his replacement is someone who is equally intellectually able and someone who would speedily get up to [grips] with the Construction Act and move the reforms forward properly.”
Baroness Shriti Vadera, a former banker and Treasury insider, who was appointed as the new minister for competitiveness at BERR, has been confirmed as the new construction minister.
Speaking at the time of the announcement, John Hutton, ssecretary of state for business, said: 'Shriti Vadera's background in the City and at the Treasury is good news for the Department's engagement with business. She will be a valuable addition to the Ministerial team and a strong advocate within Government for the needs of enterprise.'