In addition to Andrew Lansley, Anne Milton has been fired too.
Nursing minister Anne Milton lost her job in the Cabinet reshuffle.
The former nurse has been a parliamentary under-secretary of state for health since the general election in 2010. Her portfolio included nursing and public health.
In the reshuffle, which saw health secretary Andrew Lansley replaced by former culture secretary Jeremy Hunt, former journalist Anna Soubry was appointed under-secretary of state for health.
However, portfolios for new ministers have not yet been agreed so it is not clear who will take on responsibility for nursing in the new Department of Health ministerial team.
Earl Howe was the only DH minster to keep his job in the shake-up.
Mr Lansley will become leader of the House of Commons while health minister Simon Burns was promoted to transport minister. He is expected to be replaced by Dan Poulter, a qualified doctor.
Simon Clark seems to think that Milton may have been fired for getting too chummy with ASH. But since that all dates back to June of last year, it doesn’t seem likely to me that this explains her departure now.
Furthermore (H/T Pat Nurse), any suggestion of a change in policy was rather undermined by Dan Poulter writing in the Guardian last month in favour of plain packaging. Poulter actually is a real doctor. He also has a 100% antismoking voting record. Jeremy Hunt is only 50% in favour. As is Anna Soubry.
I lead a busy life, tend to burn the candle at both ends and only stopped smoking almost a year ago.
But here’s this from Jeremy Hunt’s website (my emphases added):
Local pubs in South West Surrey are being denied business rate cuts by the Government, Jeremy Hunt MP warned this week. Pub landlords could be paying thousands of pounds over the odds in tax, but are being kept in the dark by tax inspectors who want to avoid paying out tax refunds.
· Five pubs closing every day: The British Beer & Pub Association has estimated that pubs are now closing at the rate of 36 a week – five a day. This is due to the impact of the smoking ban, fragile consumer confidence, ruthless competition from supermarkets and the higher beer taxes.
· Government guidance on taxing pubs: Parliamentary Questions have revealed unpublished internal guidance by the Valuation Office Agency (an arm of HM Revenue & Customs) on how local firms should be charged business rates. It admits that they have been giving out the wrong advice to firms on the effect of the smoking ban. Until recently, the tax inspectors refused to give any business rate reduction for the loss of custom due to the ban. Their latest guidance now admits – based on advice from top lawyers – that the smoking ban represents a ‘material change’. Pubs could use this to make a claim for a lower ‘rateable value’ and thus cut their yearly rates bill. For example, a £5,000 reduction in rateable value would save publicans £2,300 a year in tax.
· Local firms kept in the dark: Pubs can only apply for this tax cut if they make an appeal and fill out complex paperwork. Yet the Government has made no announcement about the potential for tax refunds to local pubs across England and Wales. Business rates are the third biggest outlay for local firms after rent and staff costs.
Jeremy said: “Local pubs in South West Surrey are a vital part of our social fabric and community life. Pubs are suffering from the onslaught of higher beer taxes, a weakening economy, supermarkets selling alcohol below cost price and the public smoking ban.
“Whatever people’s views on the smoking ban, it has been a significant change that has affected many pubs. The Government’s own tax inspectors have now admitted that pubs may be eligible for refunds on their business rates, but local pub owners are being kept in the dark on this u-turn. I would urge all pub-owners to look into whether they are paying too much in business rates.”
Clearly Hunt is well aware of the adverse impact of the smoking ban.
Makes a change?