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hopes are high as Timms becomes CSR minister

July 2002

The business world has welcomed the appointment of Stephen Timms as the UK government’s new corporate social responsibility minister.

Timms, who was appointed to replace Douglas Alexander in a government reshuffle, has previous connections with CSR and socially responsible investment, having been the minister responsible for introducing a disclosure regulation in 2000 that forced pension funds to state their position on SRI.

Timms was also responsible for community development finance when financial secretary at the Treasury.

Unlike his two predecessors in the CSR post at the Department of Trade and Industry, Timms will not have to spend months getting to grips with his brief and is seen as a minister with a natural sympathy for the CSR agenda.

‘He will be informed, engaged and enthusiastic’, predicted Penny Shepherd, former executive director of the UK Social Investment Forum, who worked closely with Timms when he was introducing the pensions regulation. ‘He really believed in the pensions regulation, and social inclusion is something he is passionate about, although his overall position depends a lot on the views of his bosses at the DTI’.

Timms, who has been a Labour MP since 1994 and represents East Ham, was previously minister for school standards. Prior to becoming an MP he worked for 15 years in the computing and telecoms industry, including spells at Logica and Ovum. Aged 47, he is a patron of the Christian Socialist Movement.

Deborah Doane, head of corporate social accountability at the New Economics Foundation and a critic of the previous CSR minister, said she was ‘quite hopeful’ Timms would be more proactive than his predecessor.

‘The fact that he pushed ahead with the pensions regulation shows he is forward looking,’ she said. ‘He is probably prepared to look at opportunities to move things on, rather than stepping back and waiting for business to act. But it’s early days.’

Like his predecessor, Timms will also be responsible for electronic commerce, the communications and information industries, consumer goods and business and postal services.

His CSR brief will be a busy one over the next few months, with the European Commission’s white paper on CSR imminent and decisions to be made on the company law review.

Alexander, who spent a year in the CSR post, was promoted to the Cabinet Office.

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