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Is Digital Britain turning into a dog’s breakfast?

After some confusion as to whether Sion Simon or Stephen Timms would be taking over the Digital Britain brief from the now-departed Lord Carter, Downing Street has now ruled in favour of Mr Timms.

But anyone expecting any degree of clarity from the government over which Whitehall department will be ultimately responsible for implementing the plans will have been sorely disappointed.

The story so far is that Timms will remain in his current role as financial secretary to the Treasury, but with additional ministerial responsibilties at Lord Mandelson’s Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

In terms of his Digital Britain responsibilities, he will report to the Business Secretary, rather than the Culture, Media and Sport Secretary Ben Bradshaw, whose department has hitherto led on the Digital Britain report and who personally delivered it in an oral statement to the Commmons back in June.

Meanwhile Mr Simon, as creative industries minister, is to undertake some ill-defined supporting-role in relation to those aspects of Digital Britain which are still the responsibility of the DCMS.

The upshot of all this appears to be that Mr Bradshaw, a former Exeter Express and Echo reporter who has recently made some welcome comments about the threat to regional newspapers posed by council propaganda sheets, has been well and truly sidelined.

A cynical interpretation of this would suggest that Bradshaw, who is also a former BBC reporter, was deemed insufficiently impartial to rule on the vexed issue of whether the BBC licence fee should be top-sliced to fund new regional TV news consortia in which the local press is expected to play a part.

Either way, with so many departments and ministers now apparently involved, the words "too many cooks," "dog’s breakfast" and "camel designed by committee" all spring to mind.