PM makes Wharton Minister for the ‘northern powerhouse’ in reshuffle

James Wharton in Downing Street today
James Wharton in Downing Street today
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DAVID Cameron has underlined his commitment to the “northern powerhouse” by appointing a Minister to deliver it.

Stockton South MP James Wharton will be responsible for the northern powerhouse, the Conservatives’ vision for linking up the North’s towns and cities so together they can compete on the global stage.

The Prime Minister also chose to make Stockton the location of his first visit since winning the General Election today.

Speaking at the first Cabinet meeting of the new Government this morning, Mr Cameron said: “It is absolutely vital that every decision that we take, every policy we pursue, every programme we start is about giving everyone in our country the best chance of living a fulfilling and good life and making the most of their talents.”

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Downing Street revealed Bills to cut the benefit cap to £23,000 and deliver the Conservatives’ promise to increase free childcare will be among those to feature in the Queen’s Speech later this month.

Mr Wharton was joined in the junior ministerial ranks by Harrogate MP Andrew Jones who will take a role at the Department for Transport.

Mr Jones was chairman of the northern electrification taskforce that earlier this year recommended a series of rail lines through Yorkshire should be prioritised.

He said: “We all know that transport is one of the most significant factors supporting economic growth. Ensuring that people are able to move from place to place easily and that goods can get from manufacturers to customers, both here and abroad as exports, is one of the basics of business.

“Transport is also an important factor in the quality of our daily lives. We must never forget that people use our trains, roads and public transport for shopping, getting the kids to school and a multitude of everyday tasks.”

It was confirmed this afternoon that Scarborough MP Robert Goodwill will stay in his junior ministerial role at the Department for Transport.

Junior ministers at a glance...

• James Wharton has been made Northern Powerhouse minister within the Department for Communities and Local Government.

Chancellor George Osborne outlined his vision for a northern powerhouse to rebalance the UK economy in his final Budget of the last parliament and the phrase was much used in the run-up to the election.

The appointment could be seen as a reward for the Stockton South MP who took on the EU Referendum Bill, defeated in the Lords, which aimed to enshrine the Tory position into law.

• Marcus Jones who held the Nuneaton marginal has also been appointed a minister within communities and local government.

• Ipswich MP Ben Gummer - the son of former Tory Cabinet minister John Gummer - goes to the Department of Health.

• North Swindon MP Justin Tomlinson has been appointed minister for disabled people at the Department for Work and Pensions.

• Rory Stewart - a former diplomat who has been an outspoken critic of the party’s failure to commit to meeting the Nato target of spending at least 2% of GDP on defence as the chair of the Commons select committee - has been appointed as a minister within the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

• Harrogate and Knaresborough MP Andrew Jones joins the Department for Transport while Wyre and Preston North’s Ben Wallace has been appointed a minister at the Northern Ireland Office.

• Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage has been given a dual role. She has been made a minister at the Ministry of Justice as well as a minister for equalities at the Department for Education. First elected in 2010, she is the daughter of TV presenter Fred Dinenage and is married to Milton Keynes North MP Mark Lancaster, who has been made minister for defence personnel, welfare and veterans at the Ministry of Defence.

• Weston-super-Mare MP John Penrose is to be junior minister at the Cabinet Office.

• East Hampshire MP Damian Hinds is to be Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury.