Reshuffle fever hits the sector

Acevo has put in an early plea for continuity in the Cabinet Office in the likely event of a Cabinet reshuffle this summer.

The chief executives body would like to see third sector minister Ed Miliband, who is hotly tipped for promotion if Chancellor Gordon Brown succeeds Tony Blair as Prime Minister, replace Hilary Armstrong as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. Armstrong is also social exclusion minister and has overall responsibility for the third sector.

"We want Ed to be the Cabinet Office minister for social exclusion so that he stays with the sector in a more senior role," said Nick Aldridge, director of strategy at Acevo. "We think he'd be a great Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster."

The Directory of Social Change is also calling for Miliband to finish the job he has started in the Office of the Third Sector. We hope he doesn't get reshuffled," said Debra Allcock Tyler, chief executive of the DSC.

But the name of Miliband, who started his current post last May, has already been linked to several other ministerial roles, including foreign secretary.

His potential departure from the voluntary sector has sparked a flurry of speculation about a possible replacement.

Government insiders have suggested that the next third sector minister could be another rising star from the 5 May 2005 intake of Labour MPs.

Names that have been associated with the role include Emily Thornberry, MP for Islington South and Finsbury, and Jamie Reed, MP for Copeland and personal private secretary to Home Office minister Tony McNulty.

Thornberry recently showed an interest in voluntary sector affairs when she trekked across the Arctic as part of the Westminster Challenge, a programme seeking to bridge the divide between charities and politicians.

The five MPs who took part in the challenge raised money for Crimestoppers, CRUK and the Children's Society, and visited the charities to find out about their work and the challenges they face.

Reed is relatively unknown in the third sector, but he is a loyal government voter when it comes to initiatives such as home secretary John Reid's plans to open up the National Offender Management Service to voluntary and private sector providers.

Another new MP who could be in the running for Miliband's job is Roberta Blackman-Woods, MP for the City of Durham and personal private secretary to Armstrong. Blackman-Woods served on a Council for Voluntary Service before becoming an MP.


- Helen Goodman is MP for Bishop Auckland, a member of the all-party community and voluntary sector group and a former Children's Society head of strategy.

- Mary Creagh, MP for Wakefield, is a former press officer at the European Youth Foundation and a trustee of education charity Rathbone.

- Barbara Keeley, MP for Worsley, has been a charity consultant and a Princess Royal Trust employee.

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