The business of choosing a Ministerial team is the first one that befalls any Prime Minister. I regret that the advice that follows has been tendered too late to influence the shape of the current Coalition administration, but I offer it in the spirit of making life easier in the future.
The principle is a simple one, namely that the surname of the Minister should reflect the portfolio which he or she holds. It would revert to our ancient tradition whereby, for example, the thatcher was called Mr Thatcher.
Applying this principle to members of the coalition parties produces an administration of all the talents and makes life simpler for those whose task it is to comment on current affairs.
The Treasury should clearly be under the command of Bill Cash and Zac Goldsmith, where there is sadly no place for Mark Reckless. If Stephen Pound were to cross the floor, we could find a portfolio for him there as well. Defra (the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) has a number of contenders. On the food side, a place should be found for Richard Bacon and Peter Bone, reinforced by my good friend and neighbour Maria Miller and Norman Baker. Rural Affairs would fall to Richard Shepherd and Norman Lamb, working in close harmony with Mark Field and my deputy, David Heath In charge of Energy and Climate Change would be Damian Green, and Simon Burns would be in charge of the Fire Service.
At Transport, we have Tom Brake in charge of road safety and Charles and Robin Walker promoting the interests of the pedestrian. Responsibility for sport, with our team trying to retain the Ashes, would be down to Nick Boles (doubtless shadowed by Ed Balls, if Ed Miliband were to follow the same principle.) When we find time for the debate on repealing the Hunting with Dogs Bill, step forward Jeremy Hunt and Liam Fox, so that both sides of this important argument can be heard.
At the Department of Business, in charge of telecommunications and bringing faster broadband to every household, we can harness the skills of Vince Cable, assisted by Steve Webb. Responsibility for the weather and the Meteorological Office falls to Roger Gale.
This principle has consequences for the member for North West Hampshire, and I succumb to its logic. Who should take my job as Leader of the House of Commons, getting the legislative programme through Parliament? Step forward David Laws; while I assume responsibility for the nation’s youth.
I wish all readers a Happy Christmas, and all the best for 2011.