PracticePeople In PracticeBrown holds onto key treasury staff

Brown holds onto key treasury staff

Chancellor Gordon Brown has kept together key figures in his treasury team amidst a ministerial reshuffle and Whitehall restructuring designed to kerb his power and influence.

Andrew Smith remains Brown’s deputy as chief secretary to the Treasury in charge of public spending despite a bid by prime minister Tony Blair to oust him. Whitehall insiders say Brown had to put up a spirited fight to keep the Oxford East MP

Similarly Dawn Primarolo remains as paymaster general despite the IR35 fiasco and Brown loyalist Ruth Kelly, a former Bank of England economist and Guardian journalist who sat on the Treasury committee of the Commons, becomes economic secretary

Former home office minister Paul Boateng comes in as financial secretary and the Blairite spy in the camp.

However, changes in the Whitehall system will reduce Mr. Brown’s influence.

A new ‘caps’ delivery unit, in the Cabinet Office, headed by deputy prime minister John Prescott will take over monitoring the efficiency of departmental spending from the Treasury.

The new Department of Work and Pensions, headed by former social security secretary Alistair Darling, will have an increased say in taxation at decisions including tax credit.

The Department of Trade and Industry, under former e-commerce minister Patricia Hewitt will also have a greater role in setting business tactics.

However, Mr. Brown has secured the appointment of allies in a number of key positions including Douglas Alexander as the new e-commerce and competitiveness minister and the return to government of Nigel Griffiths, sacked in 1998, as small business minister.

Meanwhile, shadow chancellor Michael Portillo has emerged as the front-runner to take over from William Hague as Tory leader, after Labour’s second general election landslide.

Commons Public Accounts Committee chairman David Davis, a former Treasury minister, is also expected to mount a strong challenge for the job.

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