Patrick McLoughlin replaces Justine Greening as Transport Secretary at the DfT
Date added: September 4, 2012
Patrick McLoughlin, who was Chief Whip, has now become Transport Secretary, replacing Justine Greening, who – because of her strong opposition to a 3rd runway at Heathrow – has been moved (to be International Development Secretary). The Campaign for Better Transport said it was “a big shame” to lose Greening because she was “actually putting in place a long-term strategy for transport, a rare thing”. John Stewart, Chair of HACAN, said her removal heralded “big changes in aviation policy”. Theresa Villiers, who was Aviation Minister, has been replaced by Simon Burns, with Theresa moved to become Northern Ireland Secretary. Patrick McLoughlin is MP for the Derbyshire Dales, and served briefly as a junior transport minister under Margaret Thatcher from 1989 to 1992. As a backbencher, he voted for a “rethink” on the Labour Government’s policy of expanding Heathrow in 2009 when Villiers made this the Conservatives’ policy. He is apparently afraid of flying, (or he was 20 years ago) and started his working life as a farm worker and a miner. The DfT Aviation team has also been reshuffled.
Patrick McLoughlin replaces Justine Greening as Transport Secretary at the DfT
4.9.2012 (Transport Extra)
Patrick McLoughlin: As a backbencher, he voted for a “rethink” on the Labour Government policy of expanding Heathrow in 2009 when Villiers made this the Conservative policy.
Greening was opposed to Heathrow expansion
The Prime Minister has appointed former chief whip Patrick McLoughlin as his third transport secretary, replacing Justine Greening.
The Campaign for Better Transport had said it would be “a big shame” to lose Greening because she was “actually putting in place a long-term strategy for transport, a rare thing”.
HACAN Clearskies chair John Stewart said the removal of anti-third runway Greening and Theresa Villiers from the DfT heralded “big changes in aviation policy”.
Greening had claimed a “political consensus” for rejecting Heathrow expansion and had planned a consultation on how to “make sure that we have the hub capacity this country needs” without a third runway at Heathrow. But the Chancellor said at the weekend that a third Heathrow runway was one of the alternatives that needed to be looked at.
Derbyshire Dales MP McLoughlin was made a junior transport minister by Margaret Thatcher in 1989 and he served for three years at the department. As a backbencher, he voted for a “rethink” on the Labour Government’s policy of expanding Heathrow in 2009 when Villiers made this the Conservatives’ policy.
John Parkinson, who has been Head of UK Aviation Policy at the DfT, has been moved to a new role within the Department as Head of International Co-operation.
So even the DfT policy team is being shuffled.
2.9.2012 (Conservative Home)
2.30pm Boris Johnson, the London Mayor, has reacted angrily to Justine Greening’s shuffling. He told the BBC:
“There can be only one reason to move her – and that is to expand Heathrow Airport. It is simply mad to build a new runway in the middle of west London. Nearly a third of the victims of aircraft noise in the whole of Europe live in the vicinity of Heathrow. Now it is clear that the Government wants to ditch its promises and send yet more planes over central London. The third runway would mean more traffic, more noise, more pollution – and a serious reduction in the quality of life for hundreds of thousands of people. We will fight this all the way.”
Miss Greening – a strong opponent of a new runway at Heathrow – has been replaced by former Conservative Chief Whip Patrick McLoughlin after less than a year in the job and will take over the lower-profile role as International Development Secretary.
Unlike Miss Greening, Mr McLoughlin – who was a transport minister under Lady Thatcher and Sir John Major – is said to have “no baggage” over Heathrow expansion.
Mr Johnson said the development was a sign the government may rethink its approach to new air capacity in the south of England.
He described her as a “first-rate transport secretary” and said her opposition to Heathrow expansion was the “only possible” reason for the change and promised to fight this all the way.
Just as the aviation industry was popping corks at the departure of a transport secretary who opposed Heathrow expansion, it has emerged that the new incumbent has his own issues: a fear of flying.
Patrick McLoughlin, the new transport secretary, has previously admitted that he not only has a fear of flying but he represents the most landlocked constituency in the UK.
McLoughlin made the admission in a magazine interview recalling the time when he was invited to be a junior minister for aviation and shipping in the Thatcher government, 20 years ago.
In an interview with Total Politics magazine, McLoughlin related how the then transport secretary, Cecil Parkinson, invited him to take up the brief. “I replied: ‘Cecil, I’ve got two problems with this. I’ve got the most landlocked constituency in the United Kingdom, and I’m afraid of flying.'”
McLoughlin said that Parkinson replied it meant he would “bring an open mind to the subject”. He served in the department for three years.
The biggest transport question for the the new minister is about airport expansion, and especially Heathrow. McLoughlin will inherit a row over what to do next: government policy rules out a third runway in this parliament but the Treasury has indicated it is open to the idea in the long term. The issue splits the government and backbenches alike.
There is another unresolved battle, over rail. A high court judge is weighing the merits of Virgin’s application for a judicial review of the west coast main line franchise award. If Virgin’s legal action is dismissed, McLoughlin will have to deal with an angry Richard Branson. If not, the consequences could be more far reaching – possibly a review of the franchising process, delaying a host of contracts up for renewal in the next two years. He may also push the Treasury to again soften the blow for commuters of planned rail fares, set to rise between 6% and 11% in January.
He will have to choose this autumn between the route options for the £33bn high-speed rail network north of Birmingham – a decision with the potential to create new areas of local opposition, particularly in Londonand the south.
Road-building headaches lie further ahead. And for those Jeremy Clarksonites who believe there has been, in last-but-one incumbent Philip Hammond’s words, a “war on the motorist”, there is the promised raising of the motorway speed limit. But with road deaths climbing, McLoughlin may choose to let this one slip quietly away.
McLoughlin was born in Stafford, the son and grandson of coal miners. He was educated at the Cardinal Griffin Roman Catholic School in Cannock, Staffordshire, and Staffordshire College of Agriculture at Rodbaston College. From 1974 he worked for five years as a farm worker and after 1979 worked underground at the Littleton Colliery in Cannock. He was a member of the National Union of Mineworkers, he became an industrial representative for the National Coal Board’s Western Area Marketing Department.
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