The devil within

In a surprise attack on the British Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the former government's environment secretary, John Gummer, has warned about a powerful group of officials in the department determined never to deliver what is needed. Speaking in London (main story), Gummer told energy minister John Battle that because of this DTI ministers have a more difficult role than those in any other government department.

Recollecting his discussions with DTI ministers when in government, Gummer said there would always follow a telephone call from the department saying "you didn't quite get it right; we haven't actually done it that way; and no, you cannot go as far as you want to go." He added: "It is traditionally the department that has done least to promote energy efficiency and above all initiate green cuts."

Nonetheless, there is a small body of opinion within the DTI devoted to energy efficiency, added Gummer. He called on that "missionary body" to convert the whole department. A bemused DTI official who witnessed the tirade comments that for some time John Gummer has had a bee in his bonnet about the DTI.