PM drops “Digital” and makes MP Lucy Frazer secretary of Culture, Media and Sport

The mini cabinet reshuffle saw the implementation of four new government departments, including one dedicated to technology and innovation.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has made Southeast Cambridgeshire MP Lucy Frazer secretary of state for Culture, Media and Sport in a departmental reshuffle, which also sees “Digital” dropped from the portfolio.

After a five-month stint in the role, former culture secretary Michelle Donelan will now head up the newly formed Department for Science, Innovation and Technology.

Who is Lucy Frazer?

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Frazer, the Yorkshire-born MP, received a private secondary school education and went on to study at Cambridge University. Before being elected to parliament, she practiced as a barrister and was appointed a Queen’s Counsel (senior trial lawyer) in 2013.

She was elected in 2015 as MP for Southeast Cambridgeshire and has since assumed many roles within government, from minister for Transport, Prisons and Probation to the Financial Secretary to the Treasury. Her most recent role was minister for Housing and Planning, which she held from October 2022, before being appointed as culture secretary.

Frazer’s new role as culture secretary is something of a promotion because, although she has been a minister before, this is her first position as a secretary of state.

Although she has little background in design, on 31 January 2023 Frazer spoke at a RIBA event – Beauty: Who cares, wins! – about how government and industry can collaborate to fold design into the planning process, resulting in more sustainable communities.

During the 2016 referendum, Frazer supported the UK remaining in the EU. She is better known for putting forward a Private member’s bill to Parliament to make upskirting an offence in England and Wales. The bill attained Royal Assent on 12 February 2019 and was passed.

In November 2021, when Frazer was Treasury minister, she was accused of conflict of interest after a £15bn government contract was drawn up with a firm headed by her husband.

What are the new departments?

The Department for Culture Media and Sport has been renamed and re-focussed, cutting “Digital” from its remit. According to the Prime Minister’s office, the importance of these remaining industries to the UK economy will be better recognised and seek to build on the country’s global position as leaders in the creative arts.

In place of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy – which has now been dissolved – three brand new departments have emerged, also seeking to encompass the “digital” sector which was dropped from the culture secretary’s remit.

Image credit: Lorna Roberts on Shutterstock

Former culture secretary Michelle Donelan will lead the new Department for Science Innovation and Technology. Donelan is due to take maternity leave this year and it has not yet been revealed who will take her place during that time. The PM’s office says: “Having a single department focussed on turning scientific and technical innovations into practical, appliable solutions to the challenges we face will help make sure the UK is the most innovative economy in the world.”

Grant Shapps – previously the business secretary – will assume the role of Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, another new department. This department has been tasked with bringing down bills and halving inflation as the government seeks to recognise and take action in regards to the effects of the war in Ukraine and energy insecurity.

Former trade secretary Kemi Badenoch will head up the new Department for Business and Trade with the aim of “backing British businesses at home and abroad”, says the PM’s office.

It adds that the changes and refocussing of skills are results of the Prime Minister’s five promises: “to halve inflation, grow the economy, reduce debt, cut waiting lists and stop the boats”.

Banner image credit: Alexey Fedorenko on Shutterstock

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  • Tim Masters February 10, 2023 at 11:24 am

    ‘Lucy received a private school education’. Of course she did…99% of them have had the same. She’s barely any background in design either so what qualifies her to the position really? Wouldn’t it have been better to second someone like Peter Saville into the role? He probably would never touch such a position with a bargepole but he, or someone like him, would certainly bring some much needed reality and sanity into Westmister.

  • Neil Littman February 13, 2023 at 5:37 pm

    I agree with Tim’s comments. This government have little understanding of the creative business areas and as for not representing digital, that is ridiculous. Am I right in thinking that the last time and UK government took a really interest in design and the creative industry was when Tony Blair was elected?

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