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Cabinet reshuffle: impact on the construction industry

The construction industry is gearing up to lobby a new set of senior government politicians after the cabinet reshuffle resulted in an array of ministers with fresh responsibilities including transport, infrastructure, HS2 and nuclear.

Mark Prisk, who was praised this week for the stability he brought as construction minister, was warned by the industry that he faces “an unenviable intray” as he was promoted to housing minister.

In his two years as construction minister within the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, he worked closely with the chief construction adviser Paul Morrell to push reform of the industry, including the Government Construction Strategy.

Former education minister Michael Fallon has been confirmed as minister of state at BIS with Matthew Hancock confirmed as joint parliamentary under secretary for the Department of Business and Department for Education.

Peter McLoughlin replaces Justine Greening as transport secretary and Lord Sassoon was replaced as chief commercial secretary to the Treasury by the chief executive of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games Paul Deighton.

Mr Deighton will have responsibility for taking forward the National Infrastructure Plan. His remit will also include overseeing the new private finance initiative model and UK Guarantees scheme – where the government is looking at under writing infrastructure schemes.

Prime minister David Cameron insisted Mr Deighton’s appointment “proves we mean business”. Among Mr Deighton’s responsibilities will be for crucial infrastructure projects including HS2 and new nuclear, while attempting to secure private investment into UK schemes.

However in a surprise move, nuclear advocate and energy minister Charles Hendry was reported to have been demoted to the backbenches, despite negotiations between the government and EDF/Centrica entering a critical phase ahead of the developers’ plans to invest in the multi-billion Hinkley Point C plant.

Industry figures paid tribute to Mr Prisk’s work as construction minister, particularly for the stability he brought to the role over more than two years in the current government, in sharp contrast to Justine Greening’s 10 month stint as transport secretary.

However several criticised the impact of Mr Prisk’s predecessor, Grant Shapps, after he moved to a new role as Conservative party co-chairman.

The reshuffle suggested the government was clearing a path for a change of heart on Heathrow after third runway critics Justine Greening and Theresa Villiers were ousted from the transport department.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson immediately went on the offensive, stating that the move to replace Ms Greening with former chief whip Patrick McLoughlin showed the government was intent on the “simply mad policy” of a third runway at Heathrow.

The reshuffle came after chancellor George Osborne indicated that a third runway needed to be considered at the weekend. The government is this week expected to launch its Infrastructure (Financial Assistance) Bill to allow the government to underwrite “nationally significant” projects, that are ready to start construction within 12 months, are financially credible and “good value” for taxpayers.

Cabinet Reshuffle:

Housing: Mark Prisk has been promoted from construction minister to housing minister. He will replace Grant Shapps, who has been appointed minister without portfolio and Conservative party chairman, and will attend cabinet meetings.

Business: Vince Cable will remain in charge, with Michael Fallon becoming a business minister.

Treasury: Paul Deighton, former chief executive of LOCOG, will be commercial secretary to the Treasury.

Transport: Patrick McLoughlin, ex-government chief whip, has become transport secretary, replacing Justine Greening, who had been in the position less than a year. Ms Greening will now replace Andrew Mitchell as international development secretary.

Education: Michael Gove will remain education secretary, while David Laws will become a joint education and cabinet office minister.

Health: Former culture secretary Jeremy Hunt is the new health secretary, describing the appointment as “the biggest privilege of my life”. Predecessor Andrew Lansley will become leader of the Commons.

Justice: Chris Grayling, previously a welfare minister, will become secretary of state for Justice, after Iain Duncan Smith turned down the portfolio to remain and the Department of Work and Pensions.

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