Treasury minister Stephen Timms is replacing Lord Stephen Carter as UK communications minister. It is understood the appointment aims to keep the government’s Digital Britain plan on track.
Timms will retain his role as treasury secretary and but will take on additional duties in the Department for Business, Innovations and Skills (BIS) and will be charged with introducing Digital Economy Bill by the autumn. It has reported that some aspects of Digital Britain, including the so-called broadband levy on fixed phone lines, have already been scrapped.
Lord Carter announced plans to leave the post before the publishing his final report in June and there have been fears that his departure would mean the plans outlined in Digital Britain, including tackling internet piracy, would fall off the radar.
Timms will be supported by creative industries minister Sion Simon, who will handle issues relating to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. His remit will include the film industry.
Digital Britain outlined plans to force internet service providers to tackle piracy by notifying illegal downloaders that they are breaking the law and handing over details of repeat offenders. If this fails to show a 70% reduction in illegal filesharing over a 12 month period, Ofcom will be handed powers to reduce internet speeds and limit access.
However, it has also been reported that the ISPs and creative industries have yet to discuss how the system will work or develop a code of practice to underpin the scheme, and it is not clear who should be pushing these plans forward.
Timms has previously held a variety of roles across the Treasury and the Departments of Social Security and Trade and Industry, which have since been dissolved.
The government has yet to confirm the appointment.