UK Politics

Ed Miliband says reshuffled cabinet 'same old faces'

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Media captionEd Miliband attacks Tuesday's reshuffle

Ed Miliband has said the reshuffle leaves in place the "same old faces and the same old policies" as he clashed with David Cameron in the Commons.

In the first Prime Minister's Questions since the summer recess, the Labour leader said the government's economic policy had "spectacularly failed".

But Mr Cameron said the coalition remained "strong and united".

The new cabinet has met for the first time while the government has named who will head a review of aviation policy.

At Prime Minister's Questions, Mr Cameron indicated details of a consultation on airport capacity, including the controversial issue of a third runway at Heathrow, would be announced shortly.

Hours later, it was announced that Sir Howard Davies - a former chairman of the Financial Services Authority and director-general of employers group the CBI - would chair an independent commission to look at all options for airport capacity in the UK.

Mr Cameron told MPs he would not break his party's 2010 election promise barring expansion at Heathrow during the course of this parliament.

London's Conservative Mayor, Boris Johnson, has urged Mr Cameron to go further and reject the idea out of hand while business leaders and some Tory MPs are demanding the project should be back on the agenda to help bring the UK out of recession.

'No change'

The first parliamentary confrontation between Mr Cameron and Mr Miliband since MPs returned to Westminster from their summer break was dominated by Tuesday's reshuffle and the state of the economy.

Mr Miliband criticised the promotion of Jeremy Hunt to Health Secretary and, referring to Ken Clarke's new job as minister without portfolio and George Osborne remaining at the Treasury, he said the government would now have "two part-time chancellors".

"It is the same old faces, the same old policies, a no-change reshuffle."

Attacking government policies to try and get the country out of recession, the Labour leader said initiatives to build new roads and houses and boost investment in infrastructure had failed to happen.

"His fundamental economic approach is wrong. In his two-and-half-years as prime minister, the British economy has not grown at all. Why does he not admit it the real problem is that 'Plan A' has spectacularly failed."

In a reference to senior cabinet ministers - including Mr Osborne - being booed recently at the Paralympic Games, Mr Miliband claimed the "crowd had spoken for Britain".

But Mr Cameron said the reshuffle was based on getting every government department to focus on boosting growth, not just the Treasury and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

"This is a government that means business. We have got the team to deliver it."

'Economy rebalancing'

Mr Cameron said 900,000 jobs had been created in the private sector since the 2010 election and investment in infrastructure was increasing.

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Media captionThe new Cabinet met for the first time on Wednesday

And he contrasted the "strong and united" coalition between the Tories and Lib Dems with what he said were divisions in Labour ranks and Mr Miliband's inability to assert his leadership over economy policy.

"The big difference in British politics is that I don't want to move my chancellor, he can't move his shadow chancellor," he said. "In spite of all the opportunity, this is a weak and divided opposition."

David Cameron later chaired the first meeting of the new cabinet, the 80-minute gathering in Downing Street focusing on the economy and future announcements on growth.

Mr Cameron has also been finalising the appointment of junior government ministers.

Tourism Minister John Penrose confirmed he would be leaving the government as the number of posts in the Department of Culture, Olympics Media and Sport is being reduced.

Downing Street earlier said it was setting up a new cabinet committee to oversee the implementation of growth measures, chaired by Mr Osborne.

The move - which follows the appointment of a number of new middle-ranking ministers to the Treasury and Business departments - was applauded by small business.

"It is a welcome step to help drive forward measures to cut red tape, streamline planning rules and get big infrastructure projects moving," said Federation of Small Business chairman John Walker.

"However, it must be joined up with other areas of government and actually bring about action rather than just rhetoric."

Meanwhile, Downing Street has recommended to the Queen that several MPs who lost their jobs in the reshuffle receive honours.

Among these, it says former House of Commons leader Sir George Young should be appointed to the Order of the Companions of Honour.

And it recommends knighthoods for former agriculture minister James Paice, former solicitor general Edward Garnier and former defence ministers Nick Harvey and Gerald Howarth.

Downing Street has confirmed more changes to junior ministerial posts:

Don Foster as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at Dept for Communities and Local Government

Mark Simmonds as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Lynne Featherstone as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at Dept for International Development

Brandon Lewis as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at Dept for Communities and Local Government

Jo Swinson as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at Dept of Business Innovation and Skills

Lord Marland as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at Dept of Business Innovation and Skills

Andrew Murrison as Parliamentary Under Secretary at the Ministry of Defence

Edward Timpson as Parliamentary Under Secretary at Dept of Education

Stephen Crabb as Lords Commissioner HM Treasury and Parliamentary Under Secretary of State in Wales Office

Nick Boles as Parliamentary Under Secretary at Dept for Communities and Local Government

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