One of the first demonstrations of joined up Government by the Labour administration has been lost in the post-Byers shake-up.The running of transport and local government is seen as just too big a job for one Secretary of State to handle.
The new Department for Transport will focus solely on transport issues under the leadership of Alistair Darling, with Rachel Lomax taking over as Permanent Secretary.
UNISON says this will help John Prescott focus on helping to deliver world class local government services, unencumbered by the transport brief.
The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister takes on most of the non-transport responsibilities of the DTLR as well as keeping existing responsibilities for social exclusion and the regions. This means that regional and local government and the Government’s cross-cutting agenda for neighbourhood renewal and social inclusion will be handled by a single department. The Deputy Prime Minister will also assume responsibility for implementing the Regional Government and Local Government White Papers.
The Deputy Prime Minister will be supported by three Ministers of State, The Rt Hon Nick Raynsford MP (Local Government and Regions); The Rt Hon Lord Rooker (Housing and Planning); Ms Barbara Roche MP (Social Exclusion).
The enlarged Office of the Deputy Prime Minister will be separated off from the Cabinet Office which will be refocused, under Lord Macdonald, on its core functions – supporting the Cabinet, and driving forward public service delivery and reform. The Women and Equality Unit will be transferred to the DTI.
DTLR’s former responsibility for the Electoral Commission and for policy on electoral law, referendums and party funding will transfer to the Lord Chancellor’s Department.