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Parliament and Politics

Final changes made to the Department for Health & Social Care (for the moment), a new minister chairs the Commons health and social care committee, and a question answered

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Final changes have been made to the Department for Health & Social Care, unless everything changes again due to turmoil in government. Plus, a new minister but an old face has been elected to chair the Commons health and social care committee. Finally, a question has been answered regarding the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment register.

Neil O’Brien, the Conservative MP for Harborough since 2017, has been appointed as the new minister for Primary Care and Public Health in the Department for Health & Social Care. O’Brien previously worked as a Special Advisor to George Osborne between 2012 to 2016 when Osborne was the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He also worked as a Special Advisor for Prime Minister Theresa May.

O’Brien claims to be fired up by preventative approaches, telling the Institute for Government that his party “needs to really floor it” in its approach to public health prevention, adding, “You've just got to be very imaginative and aggressive about what we do on some of these prevention efforts. It's central to levelling up.”

Once titled the Minister for Vaping, the ex-junior health minister Steve Brine is the new chair of the Commons health and social care committee. Brine appointment comes following the supportive votes from fellow MPs, helping him to beat five other candidates to take on the role vacated by Jeremy Hunt following his departure to become the new Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Brine, the Conservative representative for Winchester, stepped down as junior health minister in 2019 due to his opposition to a ‘no deal’ Brexit.

My view on ‘no deal’ has formed as a result of countless public statements from business, public services, security services and testimony from a wide range of my own constituents. That is in addition to almost three years working inside Government as a Minister, including the last 20 months at the Department for Health. I want to pay tribute to the highly competent and professional team at DH,” he said at the time.

Commenting on his new appointment, Steve Brine said: “The ability of the health and social care sectors to continue to deliver for patients is a key priority for this committee, particularly how to deal with the backlog caused by the pandemic and the need to recruit a workforce now that’s capable of meeting future demand. Further pressures look unavoidable given the current economic climate.

“Despite spending vast sums on health, we fail to reap the rewards in better outcomes. We need to understand why and to press the government about getting better value for our money.”

He supported the work carried out by the New Nicotine Alliance and the National Centre for Smoking Cessation and Training, encouraging businesses and organisations to give serious consideration to allow vaping indoors in order to combat tobacco related harm.

In the House of Lords, Conservative Lord Randall of Uxbridge asked the Government why the importers of Elf Bar and Geek Bar e-cigarette brands are not on the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment register.


The Minister of State for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Lord Benyon told him: “The two brands mentioned are not on the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) register because the companies that produce these brands have not registered as EEE producers for this compliance year. The Environment Agency is currently looking into the e-cigarette industry to scope out which legal entities should be obligated as producers under the WEEE regulations.”

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Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
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Dave is a freelance writer; with articles on music, motorbikes, football, pop-science, vaping and tobacco harm reduction in Sounds, Melody Maker, UBG, AWoL, Bike, When Saturday Comes, Vape News Magazine, and syndicated across the Johnston Press group. He was published in an anthology of “Greatest Football Writing”, but still believes this was a mistake. Dave contributes sketches to comedy shows and used to co-host a radio sketch show. He’s worked with numerous vape companies to develop content for their websites.

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