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Last Updated: Friday, 13 May, 2005, 15:59 GMT 16:59 UK
Jibes prompt DTI rebrand U-turn
DPEI screen shot
The DTI's website - before it was changed back
The Department of Trade and Industry is to revert to its name after briefly being re-branded as the Department for Productivity, Energy and Industry.

New department head Alan Johnson persuaded Tony Blair to change the name back following derision from business leaders and unions.

He said there was concern about the loss of the word "trade" in the title.

"A man with a screwdriver" will replace the sign outside the department's HQ, Mr Johnson told the Financial Times.

DPEI had prompted "various descriptions...penis and dippy", he said.

Someone else's idea

Downing Street last week said the new name was part of efforts to ensure the department was "refocused and reinvigorated playing a greater role on productivity".

But Mr Johnson said the Confederation of British Industry's (CBI) opinion that the title was "old-fashioned corporatism" had stung and the unions "weren't keen on it either".

He stressed he had not thought of the name, but there had been "a view somewhere" in government that a new name was needed to reflect the change from the DTI running monopolised industries in the 1970s.

A spokesman for the DTI said: "The secretary has been listening to feedback from stakeholders who had identified concerns about the loss of the word 'trade' in our name.

"They also had concerns about possible money that might be spent on rebranding."

Reshuffle criticism

Mr Johnson is said to have thought the cost of rebranding, which has been estimated as a six-figure sum, would not have been justified.

On Friday morning the department's website changed its masthead from the Department for Productivity, Energy and Industry to the Department of Trade and Industry.

Patricia Hewitt, Mr Johnson's predecessor as trade and industry secretary, denied the name change was an example of another "bodged reshuffle".

The name was not nearly as important as ensuring there was a department which could act as a voice for business, said Ms Hewitt, who is now health secretary.

'Circus clowns'

CBI director-general Sir Digby Jones called the decision to ditch the department's new name as a "victory for common sense and for the taxpayer".

"The department must be, as Alan Johnson has said, 'unremittingly for business'," he said.

Richard Wilson, head of business policy at the Institute of Directors, lampooned the department for changing its name twice in a week.

"The government is degenerating into a circus and the clowns have taken charge," he said.

Conservative shadow trade and industry secretary David Willetts said it had been "incredibly foolish" to rebrand the department without consulting business groups.

"This absurd episode reveals yet again that the prime minister is more interested in renaming and rebranding Whitehall when he should be renewing and reforming Britain," he said.

Liberal Democrat trade spokesman Malcolm Bruce called the rebranding "an almost comic example of spin government".

"Fortunately Alan Johnson is a sensible minister who can see the difference between spin and substance," said Mr Bruce.


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