Politics: Conservatives name new shadow charity minister

Nathalie Thomas

Andrew Turner has been replaced as shadow charities minister by Greg Clark, MP for Tunbridge Wells.

The leader of the Conservative Party, David Cameron, has appointed Clark to form part of the shadow frontbench team on communities and local government.

Clark takes responsibility for charities, voluntary bodies and social enterprise.

"The appointment of a dedicated shadow minister is a reflection of the growing contribution that the sector makes to our national life," Clark said.

"It is also a reflection of the incredible diversity of the sector - from the traditional charities to the new breed of social entrepreneurs and the countless community groups that do so much to strengthen civil society."

Clark is relatively new to politics, having won his seat at last year's General Election. He has, however, had some exposure to the voluntary sector through his involvement in Cameron's Social Justice Commission, set up in November 2005.

Clark chairs the commission's sub-group on economic failure and welfare dependency and made ripples earlier this year when he urged the Conservative Party to embrace a new relative definition of poverty (Third Sector, 14 June).

He is also patron of two charities: the Tunbridge Wells Mental Heath Resource and Pepenbury, a Kent-based charity for adults with learning difficulties.

Clark said his first task would be to meet as many people from voluntary organisations and social enterprises as possible to understand the challenges they face.

"David Cameron told me that he sees social enterprise and the voluntary sector as playing a big role in all policy areas of a new Conservative government," he said. "I will be working hard to ensure that the sector is equipped with all the tools it needs to deliver this."

Pete Moorey, parliamentary and media manager at the NCVO, welcomed the appointment, saying that Clark had already played a crucial role in advancing the Conservative agenda for charities.

"We look forward to working with him as the Conservatives develop their voluntary sector policy," he added.

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