DfE ministerial briefs announced, whilst former ministers vie for committee chair

Early Years Minister post disappears, whilst former education ministers Robert Halfon and Tim Loughton compete to Chair the Education Select Committee.

This week, the Government announced the ministerial briefs at the Department for Education. As was widely expected, Anne Milton has been given the Apprenticeships and Skills brief, whilst Robert Goodwill becomes Minister of State for Children and Families. Education Secretary Justine Greening, Nick Gibb (School Standards) and Lord Nash (School System) remain in post.

However, one key change is that the number of ministers in the department has been reduced by one, as Early Years Minister Caroline Dinenage has been moved to the Department for Work and Pensions and has not been replaced. Instead, most of this brief has been taken up by the Children and Families Minister.

Whilst there is now no Early Years Minister, Jeremy Corbyn has appointed Tracy Brabin to the shadow education team and given her responsibility for early years. Brabin is a former soap actress who was elected as MP for Batley and Spen in Yorkshire last year, following the murder of Jo Cox.

Education Select Committee Election

Nominations are currently open for the influential position of Chair of the House of Commons Education Select Committee. The position is currently vacant following the defeat of Neil Carmichael in last month’s snap election.

The Chair will be elected by MPs from all parties, but has to be a Conservative. Each must be nominated by members from both their own and other parties. Nominations will run until 3pm on Friday 7 July and the election will take place next Wednesday.

So far, four candidates have been announced via the Parliament website, whilst another has confirmed that he will also run. The five candidates are:

  • Rehman Chishti (Gillingham and Rainham): A lawyer by training, he also worked as a political adviser to former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.
  • Robert Halfon (Harlow): Before becoming an MP, he was Chief of Staff to Conservative MP Oliver Letwin and political director of Conservative Friends of Israel. He was sacked as Apprenticeships Minister last month and has been critical of the way that Theresa May ran the election campaign.
  • Tim Loughton (East Worthing and Shoreham): Worked in finance in the City of London prior to becoming an MP. Has previously served as Children’s Minister within the DfE (2010-2012) and came second to Neil Carmichael in the 2015 election for Education Committee Chair.
  • Stephen Metcalfe (South Basildon and East Thurrock): Worked for his family printing business before entering Parliament. During the last Parliament he served as Chair of the Science and Technology Committee.
  • Dr Dan Poulter (Central Suffolk and North Ipswich): A medical doctor who was previously a junior minister at the Department of Health.

No North East MPs are in the running for this position (and only three are eligible) but Emma Lewell-Buck (South Shields) and Sharon Hodgson (Washington and Sunderland West) have both nominated Tim Loughton.


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