by Jacqueline Clavey
Last week’s Cabinet reshuffle saw Peter Brooke bowing out as secretary of state at the Department of National Heritage, to be replaced by Stephen Dorrell, former financial secretary to the Treasury. Also on the move was food minister Nicholas Soames, a regular face at catering industry events.
In his 22 months as Heritage secretary – a post he was given for safe-keeping after the David Mellor fiasco – Mr Brooke has made little impact on tourism. Instead, he has concentrated his efforts on the apparently sexier subjects of the BBC and the Arts Council.
The Heritage Department has also gained an additional junior minister. Viscount Astor, a former director of Cliveden Hotels, joins from the Lords whips office, bringing the total number of ministers in the department to three. He was previously heritage spokesman in the Lords.
Tourism minister Iain Sproat remains in situ, although it is unclear yet whether there will be a reorganisation of responsibilities now that there is an extra pair of ministerial hands.
Changes at the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF) saw Nicholas Soames leave his post as food minister to become minister of state at Defence. He is replaced at MAFF by Angela Browning.
Although Mr Soames will be missed, his successor, with her strong interest in small businesses – she has been a director of the Small Business Bureau since 1985 – will find a common chord with much of the industry. She is also a former home economics teacher.
At the British Tourist Authority chairman Adele Biss is seeking an early meeting with the new Heritage secretary to ensure that tourism is brought to the forefront.
“We will be going through our priorities and objectives and ensuring that the new secretary of state quickly recognises the importance of tourism to the economy,” she told Caterer.