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Profession encouraged by government reshuffle

Tony Blair demonstrated a renewed belief in the importance of architecture and design last week when he unveiled the full make-up of his new government, following his election win.

Observers have welcomed the ministerial line-up - including David Miliband's promotion to the cabinet as minister for communities and local government - as a sign that No 10 is determined to raise the profile of its housebuilding agenda.

Miliband was previously minister of state for schools at the Department for Education and Skills, and is known to be committed to good architecture.

Other significant government changes include:

the promotion of rising Parliamentary star Yvette Cooper to planning and housing minister at the ODPM;

the appointment of Chris Smith's former special adviser James Purnell to a junior role at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS);

former planning minister Keith Hill's move to become the prime minister's parliamentary private secretary;

former construction minister Nigel Griffiths' appointment as deputy leader of the House of Commons (his successor is yet to be named at the time of going to press); and l the decision to change the name of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to the Department for Productivity, Energy and Industry.

All the changes were praised by the RIBA as being positive for the built environment.

The institute's director of government relations, Steven Harding, told the AJ: 'This has been a really good reshuffle. We are especially excited about Miliband's position in the cabinet.

He brings a sophisticated understanding of the importance of good design with him. As minister for schools he really set about understanding architecture in things like the City Academies programme. This sophisticated knowledge will serve him very well in his new role, we believe.

'We are also very pleased about Yvette Cooper taking on Keith Hill's job, ' he continued.

'She is high profile and was already at the ODPM, so there should be a good sense of continuity in the position.

'Another positive is the change of name at the DTI. We think it reflects that there will soon be a very important debate about energy, ' Harding added.

Also unclear at the time of going to press was whether Lord Mackintosh would continue in his position at the DCMS as minister for architecture.

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