Greg Clark MP makes a good first impression.
David Willetts left the Coalition Government in unusual circumstances for a Government Minister: he was popular, well-liked and respected. Despite this, the Prime Minister felt that the time had come for a new Minister for Science and Universities.
Following in the daunting footsteps of Mr Willetts is Greg Clark MP, with a rejigged portfolio as Minister of State for Universities, Science and Cities.
On Monday 20th October, the Minister made his first appearance before the Science and Technology Committee, whose members looked to question him on his policy priorities and focus. As few people wanted to see his predecessor leave, Greg Clark had the tricky balancing act of pledging to continue with Mr Willetts’ work whilst showing he had enough of his own ideas to help justify his appointment.
In the event, the Minister did rather well. After acknowledging Mr Willetts “fantastic” role he went on to speak about his own four priorities: protecting the science capital programme, ensuring a successful Science and Innovation Strategy (the latter to be announced around the Autumn Statement on 3rd December); championing the importance of ‘place’ (the benefits of science to local areas) and increasing diversity in the leadership of universities and other research institutions.
The new Minister has a short time to impose himself and develop the relationships with the science and academic community. It remains
to be seen whether the political timetable, including a General Election and subsequent reshuffle, will allow Mr Clark the time to extricate himself from the shadow one of the most popular science Ministers in living memory.
– Vernon Hunte