It was depressing to read in Peter Bill’s column that the new housing secretary Simon Clarke “is seen as a coming man”

New housing secretary, Simon Clarke

Simon Clarke

What that actually means is that within 12 months he will be gone, promoted to a more senior ministerial position, with his successor given a few months to master his brief, before he or she also moves on.

The risk of the Peter principle applying to government departments is unlikely to cause a serious problem, due to the regularity with which junior ministers are reshuffled by the prime minister of the day. This principle, coined by educator Laurence J Peter, states that every employee rises to the point of incompetence and remains thereafter in post on their ‘Peter’s plateau’, with no further advancement.

While they should be demoted back to a position matching their talents, this of course never happens.

What we need in the government departments for housing, pensions, education, Northern Ireland, Wales, Scotland etc are dullards, sufficiently talented to do the job, but unlikely to be promoted, and therefore fit to spend sufficient time in post to master their brief, learn what is needed and get it done, or rely on their department’s civil servants to implement sensible policy.

The real problem with housing is, of course, that it needs a much longer-term policy than the five-year shelf life of a government.

Housing should cease to be a political football so that long-term strategies, with no political agenda, could be developed and an appropriate level of housing supply could be provided to meet the country’s needs.

Anthony H Ratcliffe, Ratcliffes Chartered Surveyors