Carl Richardson, who jointly leads the Richardson family international business with his brothers from their Oldbury headquarters, has responded to a challenge from the Prime Minister for ideas to help the Government reinvigorate industry and boost economic growth post-Covid.
He is calling for a pragmatic review to the way ministers are selected, amid reports that Boris Johnson is planning a Cabinet re-shuffle before the end of the year.
Mr Richardson suggests revisiting the convention of selecting ministers solely from serving politicians.
He explained: “Why not think about selecting ministers from beyond the 650 MPs who sit in the House of Commons and 792 people in the House of Lords?
“When you take into consideration party affiliations, that gives the PM a pool of roughly 800 people from whom to pick close to 120 ministers.
“Whilst Westminster is full of many experienced people including serving ministers and retired generals, archbishops and judges, the simple maths hardly indicates that this is the most sensible way of ensuring that Government is packed full of the best-in-class talent that the country has to offer.
“Why not look beyond tradition and Westminster and allow the PM to choose ministers from across the country? As Jonathan Powell, Tony Blair’s former Chief of Staff, pointed out in a letter to The Times, this would require no constitutional or legal change, just a tweak to Commons rules.
“This is certainly not a new idea. Indeed, Gordon Brown attempted something similar with his ‘Government of all the Talents’ which saw the likes of Sir Ara Darzi, Sir Digby Jones and Sir Alan West brought into his first cabinet when he entered Number 10 in 2007. It continues to feel as though there must be a way to make this approach work effectively.
“Imagine the possibilities if we could better harness some of the incredible talent and brains in the private sector and link them into Government? Imagine Sir Jim Radcliffe as a Business Minister, Alison Rose as a Treasury Minister, Sir James Dyson as a Science Minister or even Andrew Lloyd Webber as Culture Minister?"
Amongst a number of additional suggestions made by Mr Richardson in the first of a three-part response to the Prime Minister, he also advocates using the expertise of some of the world’s most successful companies by creating a 'Minister for FAANGs' – Facebook/Amazon/Apple/Netflix/Google.
“In an age when the market capitalisation of these companies would rank them among the top 20 countries in the world by GDP, and Jeff Bezos is offering NASA $2 billion to help them fund plans to return to the moon, ought we not consider creating some new roles, or even departments, in Government, dedicated to understanding and engaging with these behemoths to a far greater extent than we do at present?
“This would ensure that we are putting sufficient focus and resource into areas where the country might secure a fantastic return on our time and money, given the ambitions of these firms," Mr Richardson adds.