Government appoints new commercial secretary

Baroness Neville-Rolfe

The government has finally appointed a replacement for Lord Jim O’Neill as commercial secretary to the Treasury following the arrival of Baroness Neville-Rolfe from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, where she was a minister of state for energy and intellectual property.

The arrival of Neville-Rolfe is overdue as Lord O’Neill resigned his position back in September. One of the key aspects of the role of commercial secretary concerns infrastructure and under Lord O’Neill and his predecessors the development of the National Infrastructure Delivery Plan was their responsibility.

Neville-Rolfe said she was delighted to be joining the Treasury as commercial secretary and looked forward to “bringing a business focus to a great job”. She departs BEIS after just five months as a minister of state. Lord Prior will step into the void left by Neville-Rolfe’s departure, joining BEIS from the Department of Health.

Neville-Rolfe previously worked for Tesco and served as group director of corporate affairs from 1997 to 2006. She was company secretary from 2004-2006 and served on the Tesco board from 2006 as executive director corporate and legal affairs until she retired in January 2013.

She joined the House of Lords as a Conservative peer in October 2013 and served as parliamentary under secretary of state at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and minister for intellectual property from July 2014 until July 2016. From May 2015 she was also parliamentary under secretary of state at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport before being appointed minister of state at BEIS in July this year.

Commenting on Neville-Rolfe’s appointment, Nelson Ogunshakin, chief executive of the Association for Consultancy and Engineering, said: “At long last we have a replacement commercial secretary to the Treasury and the appointment is well overdue. The prime minister’s failure to appoint a timely replacement for Lord Jim O’Neill had threatened to cast a shadow over the government’s attitude towards infrastructure, so we are pleased that there is now someone in post in this important role.

“This role provides a vital liaison function between government and industry and we look forward to working closely with Baroness Neville-Rolfe and to opening up a dialogue with her on the key issues and challenges facing the infrastructure sector and to working out solutions and actions to overcome them.” 

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