Parliamentary under secretary of state for quality. NEW ENTRY

Look carefully at Freddie Howe’s face on Google and you will find a resemblance around the eyes to his distinguished naval ancestor, the first Earl Howe, victor over the French at a battle in 1794 known as the Glorious First of June.

Is it relevant two centuries later to the career of the seventh earl as junior health minister in Admiral Lansley’s team (not to be confused with Lord Geoffrey Howe, Margaret Thatcher’s first chancellor)? Some think so. “There’s no side to Freddie, we like him. He’s so posh he doesn’t need to put on airs,” say Labour and Liberal Democrats who have dealt with him.

“A delightful man, so delightful that he can blind you to the fact that he is also extremely acute politically,” says a clever Labour peer with whom Earl Howe worked to frustrate Gordon Brown’s half-cocked pre-election bill to provide free personal care at home by carefully fostering cross-party consensus.

By trade a banker, Earl Howe, 59, inherited his title from a cousin in 1984 but chose to enter full time politics in 1990, surviving Labour’s 1999 cull of all but 92 hereditary peers. In 1997 he joined the Tory health team and has stayed there ever since.

His responsibilities include thorny ones such as PCT reform, commissioning, the NHS constitution, dentistry, NICE, and quangos. In a weak Lords ministerial team he stands out.

Michael White, assistant editor (politics), The Guardian