Former digital minister Matt Hancock has been made culture secretary in prime minister Theresa May’s cabinet reshuffle, replacing Karen Bradley who is now Northern Ireland secretary. Meanwhile, former education secretary Justine Greening has quit the government after turning down the role of work and pensions secretary.
Yesterday (8th January), May reshuffled her cabinet for the second time since becoming Prime Minister in 2016, in a bid to strengthen her ministerial team in a contentious time for the UK government.
Hancock, who since July 2016 has served at the department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) as minister of state for digital with responsibility for broadband, broadcasting, creative industries, cyber and the tech industry, is the new secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport. The new culture secretary is ultimately responsible for the stewardship and improvement of public library services in England, under the 1964 Public Libraries and Museums Act.
Hancock already has links to the publishing industry. Last year, he spoke at the Publishers Association's Building inclusivity in Publishing conference and praised the trade body for its new action plan on diversity.
Hancock will be taking over from Bradley, who has been offered the Northern Ireland brief, a “politically sensitive” role during Brexit negotiations, according to The Guardian. Bradley, a trained chartered accountant, has been the Conservative MP for Staffordshire Moorlands since May 2010. Under her tenure the government started investigations into the library provision provided by Darlington, Lancashire and Swindon councils.
The libraries minister is currently John Glen, however, May plans to reshuffle the junior ministers later today (9th January).
Meanwhile, Greening, who became education secretary after May took over as prime minister in 2016, has left the government after being offered the work and pensions brief. Former work and pensions minister Damian Hinds has been made education secretary instead, while former deputy chief whip Esther McVey has taken the work and pensions role.
In further changes, health secretary Jeremy Hunt has had his remit increased to handle social care, David Gauke has been made justice secretary, and James Cleverly has been made deputy party chair. Boris Johnson remains foreign secretary, Greg Clark remains business secretary, Amber Rudd is still home secretary and Philip Hammond remains chancellor.
Stephen Lotinga, chief executive of the Publishers Association, said: “We are delighted that Matt Hancock has been promoted as the new Culture Secretary. We have enjoyed working with him in his previous role and it is extremely welcome to see someone take on this position who has such a strong command of the key issues facing the creative industries, particularly at such a crucial time.
“The fact the Greg Clark has continued in post as the BEIS means we will be able to continue the good work that has been made on the industrial strategy and the recognition it gives to the importance of the creative industries and IP for the future growth of the UK. We also look forward to engaging with Damian Hinds in his new position as Education Secretary and setting out the value of high quality educational materials for pupil attainment and reducing teacher workload.”