The Cabinet Reshuffle: Pragmatist for transport job: Brian Mawhinney is likely to take a tough line on the rail strike. Colin Brown reports

A NO-NONSENSE Ulsterman, Brian Mawhinney, 55, is seen as a pragmatic minister who gets on with the job.

Colleagues saw no change of policy likely over the signal workers' dispute. They said he would continue the tough line on pay adopted by John MacGregor, his predecessor. 'He will make lots of noise and be very unpopular in a short time,' one said.

Dr Mawhinney's Peterborough constituency is seen as an asset to his transport portfolio. 'He represents a commuter seat. One of his main tasks will be to win back the commuters to the Tory party,' one of his friends said. He will be a strong ally for the Prime Minister in the Cabinet.

Right-wingers are pleased with Dr Mawhinney's promotion, because he is seen as tough on spending. A member of the General Synod until 1990, he is regarded as a Majorite in the centre of the party, with a strong belief in traditional family values. As Minister for Health, he stopped publication of a sex guide by the Health Education Authority on the grounds because it was 'smutty'. He told experts at a drug rehabilitation clinic on Merseyside to get the churches involved.

Dr Mawhinney, a former senior lecturer at the Royal Free Hospital School of Medicine, was responsible for toughening policy under Virginia Bottomley at the Department of Health.

He drove forward with initiatives on purchasing by health authorities and family doctors, and conducted hard bargaining with doctors on pay and the NHS drug bill.

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