The UK cabinet just underwent a reshuffle, with Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron replacing several ministers in advance of the 2015 Parliamentary elections. Incoming ministers are, generally speaking, younger and more diverse than the people they are succeeding. Since this is a coalition government, it should be noted that at the moment, cabinet ministers appointed by the Liberal Democrats remain in place.
Replacing MP David Willetts, the Minister of State for Universities and Science is MP Greg Clark. He’s been a member of Parliament since 2005, and prior to his new ministerial position he held ministerial portfolios (some of them while in opposition) for cities and local government as well as for energy and climate change. Cities will be part of Clark’s portfolio going forward, in addition to Universities and Science.
It’s too early to tell how Clark might address matters of science policy in his new position. Unfortunately, he seems persuaded that homeopathy has some therapeutic value, based on his signature on this Early Day Motion in support of National Health Service homeopathic hospitals. This may simply reflect an interest in protecting one such hospital in his constituency. However that matter is explained, Clark may well be seen as a step down from his predecessor, simply based on his divided interests and the begrudging respect MP Willetts received from some quarters.
What might further complicate the change is another ministerial appointment. MP George Freeman was announced as Minister for Life Sciences near the end of the reshuffle. He has been in Parliament since 2010 and has 15 years experience before that in venture capital focused on biomedicine. He had served the Government as Life Science Adviser since 2011. The ministerial appointment is split between the Health Department and the Department on Business, Innovation and Skills.
As for science degrees in the bunch, Willetts and Clark have degrees in economics, and Freeman has one in geography.