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The new DCLG Ministerial team

It has emerged that, after some squabbling Rosie Winterton, will be the Local Government Minister. She will be part time as she is also Business Minister in Lord Mandelson's empire. Given the extent of meddling from central Government in the minutia bof how Town Halls are run one would have thought a full time minister would have been justified. The problem is that the lack of Ministerial oversight will not result in less interference - simply in DCLG bureaucrats running amok passing ever more regulations with less democratic accountability to restrain them.

So far Winterton is mainly noted as a protege of John Prescott. Her experience of life in the real world before entering Parliament consisted of a job with lobbyists Connect Public Affairs and working for Southwark Council as their "Parliamentary Officer." (I wonder how many councils employ Parliamentary Officers.) She has had to repay £8,000 in expenses after claiming the entire cost of her mortgage rather than just the interest.

Who else is at the Department? Winterton's boss (or rather her other boss apart from Lord Mandelson) is John Denham. A former Southampton councillor best known from resigning from a earlier Ministerial job over the Iraq War. His expenses included a claim for Christmas cards - which was rejected,

The Housing Minister is John Healey. His recently disclosed expenses show we reimburse him £130 a month for "cleaning and ironing services." Why can't he iron his own shirts? When the BBC asked him he said: "Any constituent, can send their comments and questions to me at healeyj@parliament.uk at the same time as posting them on the BBC website, and I will give them a full, personal response directly." Why couldn't he just answer the question?

The other Junior Ministers are Ian Austin (a former spin doctor to Gordon Brown) include Shahid Malik (whose expense claims need no introduction.) There is also Lord Mackenzie, the former leader of Luton Council mainly noted for his view that Health and Safety requirements aren't onerous enough. He styles himself "Lord Bill Mackenzie" by which I suppose he means: "I'm a Lord but please call me Bill." But this could cause confusion as the correct useage, when the title Lord is inserted before both first and surnamesm is to denote the younger son of a marquess or a duke.

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