Dismay after Blair's reshuffle

Not only have calls for an IT and innovation minister been ignored, but e-commerce has been stuck in the same portfolio as regional economies and social enterprise

The tech industry has reacted with disappointment to the downgrading of the role of e-commerce minister in the post-election ministerial reshuffle.

Industry group Intellect had been calling for a minister with the single remit of boosting the knowledge economy.

Before the election Mike O'Brien's title was minister for energy and e-commerce. But ecommerce has been dropped from the title of the new minister with the brief — Alun Michael — who is listed as minister for industry and the regions.

His portfolio also includes issues such as regional economies, small business and social enterprise, as well as e-commerce and communications and information industries.

Intellect's director of public affairs Tom Wills-Sandford told ZDNet UK sister site silicon.com: "I'm disappointed in the portfolio. We thought we had a good case — we were pleased with the announcement of the government's digital strategy which was a step towards our overall goal of the knowledge economy."

He added: "What is really needed is political leadership. Alun Michael is very capable of giving that but he needs the space to give it and with all the other stuff [in the portfolio] he's not going to be able to do that."

Dr Jeremy Beale, head of the e-business group at the Confederation of British Industry, said: "It would be nice to have a knowledge economy minister because what we don't have is someone who will drive across government now we don't have the e-Envoy."

Beale added that Michael was a good choice for the role: "He's no shrinking violet and will fight his corner on the issues."

Jim Norton, policy adviser at the Institute of Directors, welcomed the appointment: "We think Alun Michael is quite good news. He has a track record of tackling tricky briefs and handling them well."

Norton said that an increased emphasis on productivity by the renamed DPEI could be a good thing: "E-commerce is a tool that should be used to increase productivity."