When I arrived in Parliament today, a friend pressed into my hand an organisational diagram showing the Ministerial appointments in the new Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (it’s DaBiz!). My noble friend, Lord Peter Mandelson, who is now First Secretary of State (ie Deputy Prime Minister in all but name), Lord President of the Council, and Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, rules over a Department with ELEVEN Ministers – an unprecedented number – the size of many nineteenth century Cabinets.
Of the eleven, a majority (six) are unelected and members of the House of Lords (and that excludes Sir (soon to be Lord??) Alan Sugar who is “an advisor” not a Minister (so why does he need a peerage?).
More significantly, five of the Ministers are also holding posts in other Government Departments: Foreign and Commonwealth Office; Ministry of Defence; Department of Children, Schools and Families; Department of Communities and Local Government; and the Department of Culture, Media and Sport.
This gives the First Secretary of State what has been described to me as a “tentacular” reach into most of the rest of the Government.
And, of course, as Lord President he presides over meetings of the Privy Council.
Not bad for a former Lambeth Councillor.
There is nothing that a few years as a member of a London Borough Council does not equip you to do …..