When the coalition on May 12 pushed out its announcement for which MPs would take up ministerial roles there was a noticable delay when it came to Defra posts. I can reveal that David Cameron did intend a significant reshuffling between that department and DECC.
The idea was to add “environment” to DECC (creating DEECC, perhaps), beefing up the department controlled by Chris Huhne. I’m told that the documentation was all written and ready to send out. Several responsibilities would have been shorn from Defra, including the entire Environment Agency. Something that day made the new prime minister change his mind.
One source in the coalition tells me that the idea was somehow invented by Moira Wallace, permanent secretary at DECC, as some kind of land grab. I’m not sure that rings true. Maybe the idea from the politicians was to get everything environmental in one place – and then someone pointed out that altering Whitehall architecture tends to be a waste of money and time.
Not that this has stopped the new government from promising to turn the tripartite system of financial control upside down.
Alex tells me that tax credits were supposed to be moved from the Treasury to the Department of Work and Pensions – which would make sense. That, too, was stymied.