Howells given accountancy portfolio

The profession was given its first ‘accounting tsar’ this week, after the government reshuffle saw DTI minister Kim Howells add regulation and responsibility for company law to his existing insolvency and competition portfolio.

The Treasury and the DTI were both dramatically shaken up in the reshuffle that saw Howells gain enhanced responsibilities if not a promotion. A plain speaking Blairite, the 52-year-old famously enraged the left by recommending Labour should no longer describe itself as socialist.

Howells has already impressed in his time as minister. ‘He is a far cry from the part-time ministers of the past,’ said one insolvency specialist. English ICA deputy president Graham Ward said he did not expect Howells to interfere with the agreed framework for regulating the profession. ‘Generally every minister has things which are his own priorities but usually when something is agreed it is usual to see it followed through,’ he said. Ian McCartney – previously responsible for regulation and company law – moves to the Cabinet Office.

High-flyer Patricia Hewitt, former Andersen Consulting research director, joins the DTI from the Treasury as minister responsible for IT and small business. Another former Treasury minister Helen Liddle becomes deputy to trade secretary Stephen Byers responsible for industry and Europe. Former regional minister Richard Caborn and Alan Johnson also join the department.

Pensions minister Stephen Timms succeeds Barbera Roche as financial secretary. Roche moves to the Home Office. Another newcomer, Melanie Johnson, will lead the introduction of resource accounting. Paymaster General Dawn Primarolo will be responsibile for the Inland Revenue, Customs and Excise and Treasury.

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