The peer, the loyalist and the `mafioso'

14th July 1995 at 01:00
Nicholas Pyke profiles the three new ministers controlling education

Last week's Cabinet reshuffle and the surprise enlargement of Gillian Shephard's portfolio has brought three new ministers to the newly-created Department for Education and Employment.

Lord Henley arrives from the Ministry of Defence, James Paice transfers directly to Sanctuary Buildings from the old Employment Department, and Cheryl Gillan is given her first job in the Government. Tim Boswell, the former minister for further and higher education, himself a farmer, has moved sideways to become an under-secretary at the Department for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, his natural home.

Lord Henley, who deputised for Baroness Blatch in leading the Government side in the Lords during much of the 1993 Education Act, has been promoted to Minister of State at the new department. He takes over the politically sensitive areas of the curriculum and assessment; examinations and qualifications; the review of 16-19 qualifications; performance tables; the Employment Service; special needs and school transport.

Aged 41 and a hereditary peer, he came to politics via Cumbria County Council and to Education via the Whips' Office, Social Security and the Ministry of Defence. One of Parliament's many barristers, he is not known for his colourful views or unusual alignments. He attracted some criticism from political opponents for smugness when handling social security issues. Lord Henley, who lists his address as Scaleby Castle in Carlisle, is married with three children.

James Paice, the MP for South-East Cambridgeshire, will be responsible for further education; the youth service; adult training; training and enterprise councils; regional government offices; regional policy; inner cities; the single regeneration budget and Section 11. He entered the House in 1987, Mrs Thatcher's last election victory. His constituency includes Ely and many of the villages surrounding Cambridge, giving him a substantial majority.

He is felt to be part of the East Anglian "mafia" that includes John Major, Baroness Blatch and Gillian Shephard. Normally regarded as placid, he is, however, said to be roused when defending the interests of farmers.

According to Andrew Roth's Parliamentary Profiles, Mr Paice is "Francis Pym's less patrician but equally sophisticated successor; sensible, sensitive and knowledgeable low-profile mainstreamer." He is married with two sons.

Little is known about Cheryl Gillan, aside from her reputation as an impeccable Major loyalist, described by Simon Hoggart in The Guardian as "the Percy Thrower of the planted question ('creepers like a sunny situation . . .')". Even the normally prolix Roth is reduced to no more than a couple of paragraphs.

Ms Gillan, 43, who is married and works under her maiden name, replaced Sir Ian Gilmour in the ultra-safe seat of Chesham and Amersham in April 1992 with a majority of 22,220. She was educated at Cheltenham Ladies College, and before her political career worked as a marketing manager for accountancy firms. Her association with the Conservatives has been through the Bow Group - a Tory debating forum favoured by would-be candidates - rather than local government. Until her appointment last week, she was parliamentary private secretary to Viscount Cranbourne, Mr Major's campaign manager in the last leadership contest.

Her new brief includes: "choice and diversity" in schools; school reorganisations and admissions policies along with such heavyweight affairs as city technology colleges; independent schools, and school meals.

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