Barbara Follett takes over as tourism minister

Work and pensions minister Barbara Follett will take over as tourism minister at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport following a ministerial shuffle by prime minister Gordon Brown, replacing Margaret Hodge who has left the government for personal reasons.

Follett has been Labour MP for Stevenage since 1997 and is married to novelist Ken Follet, for whom she acts as a communications consultant.

She will be the eighth tourism minister in a decade, during which only Kim Howells has stayed in the job for any length of time. Follett is not known to have experience of the tourism industry. However, she was previously parliamentary private secretary to culture secretary and now minister for the Olympics Tessa Jowell.

Follett’s voting record in parliament identifies her as a loyal member of New Labour.

The minister drew criticism earlier this year for claiming £1,600 in parliamentary expenses for having her windows cleaned.

Hodge has reportedly stepped down from government on compassionate leave to look after her ill husband. It is understood that she is expected to return to a ministerial role next year.

Read more about Barbara Follett at her website.

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