Nusrat Ghani exits as construction minister

Nusrat Ghani has left the role of construction minister following a reshuffle.

The 51-year-old MP for Wealden has been named as minister for Europe at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.

The appointment ends a 16-month spell in charge of construction, a brief she was appointed to within weeks of Rishi Sunak becoming prime minister in 2022.

Her latest move raises the prospect of a 25th incumbent of the key building sector oversight role this century, going back to Nick Raynsford under Tony Blair.

Just hours before her departure was announced, Ghani conceded at an industry event that the revolving door in Whitehall “isn’t helpful”.

“We’ve talked about having consistent regulation and legislation, particularly for the pipeline of work,” she said on Tuesday morning (26 March).

“The challenge within government… it has been pretty tricky at the top, which means that policies can change when ministers change, which isn’t helpful at all for protecting the confidence to invest in the long-term.”

She added: “It is important, when it comes to politics, in the run-up to elections whether local or regional or national, [that] issues about construction do have a bearing, because people see what happens locally.”

Later she told industry representatives: “I hope in me you have had a champion.”

Ghani was also co-chair of the Construction Leadership Council (CLC), a body she had a chequered history with.

She wrote a foreword to a report published by the council last autumn that conspicuously failed to mention the study’s critical verdict on energy-efficiency efforts.

Meanwhile, her co-chair at the CLC, Mace chief executive Mark Reynolds, said last July the government had “lost its love for construction”.

Last March it emerged that Ghani had not met with Reynolds in her first four months in the role.

Kevin Hollinrake was handed a ministerial portfolio in the business department as Ghani left, but the government has not confirmed whether he will be responsible for construction.

Hollinrake was named in an email from a Kingspan employee that was read out at the Grenfell Inquiry in 2020, with the cladding company denying that the communication indicated an attempt to mislead MPs about fire risk.

Alasdair Reisner, chief executive of the Civil Engineering Contractors Association, said: “In recent years industry has significantly strengthened its relationships with government, with the construction minister acting as a key contact between Westminster and our sector.

“We anticipate that Nusrat Ghani MP’s successor will be announced shortly, and we look forward to working with them to continue work to drive policy for a better construction industry.”

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