What are government ministers for?

The government has appointed a minister for loneliness.

‘Minister for loneliness’ is an unusual title. We’d usually hear about a ‘minister for equality’ rather than a ‘minister for inequality’. Or a ‘minister for employment’ rather than a ‘minister for unemployment’.

Emphasising the negative rather than the positive is reminiscent of historic job titles like ‘Secretary of State for War’ (which was changed to ‘Defence’ in 1964). It gives the rather odd impression that the MP in question is in favour of a bad thing.

Pretty much every other modern minister job title is positive in this sense – for education, for transport, for justice and, yes, for exiting the European Union.

We asked around for some suggestions for what the ‘minister for loneliness’ might be for.

Ideas we got back included:

All nice. But our favourite suggestion so far is minister for companionship.

Any other ideas?