Prime Minister names new Culture Secretary

Stephen Chapman's picture
by Stephen Chapman

Oliver Dowden has been named Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport following yesterday's reshuffle.

He’d held the role of Paymaster General and Minister for the Cabinet Office from July last year and prior to that was Parliamentary Secretary of the Cabinet Office.

The Hertsmere MP takes over from Nicky Morgan, who returned as Culture Secretary in December on an interim basis. Morgan resigned as an MP and Culture Secretary last year and was able to return, following her peerage.

Dowden, who in 2018, took responsibility for “digital government” has previously said that the government must improve the way it uses technology, to make sure people get the best possible services online.

He talked about an ambition to “drive a new wave of digital transformation” in which "online services are integrated and data and digital identity are used to proactively help the public.”

In the Minister’s inbox will also be questions about the future of the BBC Licence Fee. His predecessor, Morgan, suggested it could be scrapped by 2027, which is when the current Royal Charter ends.

That will no doubt have his “constituents” reminding him of his maiden speech in 2015, when he quipped that he had a legitimate claim to be the MP for Albert Square, because the BBC film Eastenders at Elmstree Studios, which falls within his constituency.

“Hertsmere has the distinction of being at the heart of the British film industry,” he stated.

“Many films, from Star Wars to, most recently, Paddington, have been shot at Elstree film studios in Borehamwood. We also play host to the BBC Elstree centre, which is home to the permanent set of EastEnders, so hon. Members may be surprised to hear that I can make a legitimate claim to be the Member of Parliament for Albert Square.

It was one of only three times he’s spoken about the BBC while he’s been in the House, the other two were about the reward of contracts.