Select Committees – Full Analysis

jonathan millman

With the Select Committee Chair election results announced, here is our full breakdown of the committees, their work and their new leaders

List of Select Committees

Treasury Committee
Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee
Public Accounts Committee
Backbench Business Committee
Business Innovation and Skills Committee
Communities and Local Government Committee
Defence Committee
Education Committee
Energy and Climate Change Committee
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee
Environmental Audit Committee
Foreign Affairs Committee
Health Committee
Home Affairs Committee
International Development Committee
Justice Committee
Northern Ireland Committee
Petitions Committee
Procedure Committee
Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee
Science and Technology Committee
Scottish Affairs Committee
Standards Committee
Transport Committee
Welsh Affairs Committee
Women and Equality Committee
Work and Pensions Committee

Treasury Committee

Andrew Tyrie, Conservative MP for Chichester, has been re-elected as chair of the powerful Treasury select committee. This will be Mr Tyrie’s second and final term as chair (there is a two term limit on MPs serving as select committee chairs). Mr Tyrie’s selection was confirmed on Wednesday 10 June as nominations for all cross-party committees closed and he remained unopposed.

During the past five years, Mr Tyrie has been at the centre of the debate about financial services, becoming a high profile critic of the Financial Conduct Authority and the Bank of England. For example, in one of the committee’s final acts in the last parliament he condemned the FCA, raising questions of “systemic weakness” after an investigation into how the regulator handled the closed-book review. He has also been Chair of the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards since 2012, which recommended jailing bankers found guilty of “reckless misconduct”.

With a BA in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from the University of Oxford and an Economics Diploma, and as a former Senior Economist at the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development, Mr Tyrie is seen as an extremely able, independent-minded economist and constitutional reformer. He has previously held ministerial positions, including Shadow Financial Secretary (2003-04) and Shadow Paymaster General (2004-05).

We expect the Treasury Committee to prioritise the re-examination of the Retail Distribution Review (RDR) and Mortgage Market Review (MMR), and an examination of the economic benefits and costs of leaving the European Union. During the last Parliament there were high-profile inquiries into the accountability of the Bank of England, Financial Regulation and the LIBOR scandal.

Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee

Jesse Norman, Conservative MP for Hereford and South Herefordshire, has been elected Chair of the Culture, Media and Sport Committee. Mr Norman was a last-minute entry to the ballot, and served on the Treasury Committee during the last parliament. He is a director of the Hay festival and a trustee of performance arts space the Roundhouse, which was founded by his father.

The Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee was established in 1997, and has been chaired by John Whittingdale, Conservative MP for Maldon, for the past ten years. Following Mr Whittingdales’ appointment as Culture Secretary, five Conservative MPs were nominated for election, making it the tightest election of all select committee chairs.

It is a high-profile role in government and is likely to be busy over the next two years with negotiations over the renewal of the BBC charter to take place later this year, the future of Channel 4 and the ongoing battles around press regulation. The committee is also expected to take an interest in the future of Fifa following the recent corruption scandal, and the continuing broadband rollout across the UK.

Past inquiries of the DCMS select committee include the high profile investigation into phone hacking, for which they examined Rupert Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks, the Future of the BBC and the United Kingdom’s tourism industry.

Public Accounts Committee

Meg Hillier, Labour MP for Hackney South and Shoreditch, has been elected Chair of the Public Accounts Committee, having served on the committee for four years. Hillier said under leadership, “The Committee needs to think like a user of the service but act like a tax payer.”
The Public Accounts Committee’s role is to examine “the accounts showing the appropriation of the sums granted to Parliament to meet the public expenditure, and of such other accounts laid before Parliament as the Committee may think fit”.

Margaret Hodge was Chair of the Committee from 2010 to 2015, but did not seek re-election. Throughout her reign the committee received extensive media coverage for its role in forcing the issues of corporate tax avoidance and the failings of HM Revenue and Customs to the top of the political agenda. However, Ms Hodge has been accused of hypocrisy over her own tax affairs, and accused of grandstanding in her criticisms of corporate executives summoned before the committee – for example, she told Google executives last year: “You do evil”. Such comments have since led to criticism of select committee’s roles.

The position traditionally goes to a longstanding MP in the main opposition party, and this year’s nominations included Helen Goodman, the shadow minister for welfare reform under Ed Miliband; David Hanson, Shadow Minister for Home Affairs; and Gisela Stuart, a party moderniser who called for a grand coalition with the Tories in the event of a hung parliament. The battle for the role became so fierce that one MP, Michael Fabricant (Con, Lichfield), said on Twitter: “You can’t see a colleague without being asked for votes.”

Backbench Business Committee

Ian Mearns, Labour MP for Gateshead, has been elected Chair of the Backbench Business Committee. Mr Mearns was elected ahead of Sarah Champion, Labour MP for Rotheram, and Barry Sheerman, Labour MP for Huddersfield.

Mr Mearns was first elected as MP for Gateshead in 2010, and was a member of both the Education and Backbench Business Committee in the last Parliament.

The Committee was established at the beginning of the 2010-15 Parliament, following a recommendation from the Commons Reform or Wright Committee, in November 2009. Past inquiries include debates on the badger cull and the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

Business, Innovation and Skills Committee

Iain Wright, Labour MP for Hartlepool, has been elected Chair of the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee, beating Adrian Bailey MP and Dr Roberta Blackman-Woods MP. The Committee is responsible for examining the administration, expenditure and policy of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and its associated public bodies, including the Office of Fair Trading. We expect the Committee to address the UK’s productivity challenge, skills shortage, employment rights, and to scrutinise UKTI’s performance in tackling Britain’s trade gap.

Communities and Local Government Committee

Clive Betts, Labour MP for Sheffield South East, has been re-elected as chairman of the Communities and Local Government Committee in Parliament, having been the sole candidate nominated for the role. Mr Betts has held the role since 2010, when he defeated the only other candidate, the former local Government Minister Nick Raynsford by 279 to 276 votes.

Past inquiries include the financing of new housing supply, restoration of High Streets and Town Centre’s, implementation of welfare reform by local authorities, and reports on the Rotherham grooming scandal.

Defence Committee

Dr Julian Lewis, Conservative MP for New Forest East, has been elected Chair of the Defence Committee. Dr Lewis was Shadow Defence Minister for more than six years, under four successive Shadow Secretaries of State (2002-04 and 2005-10), and has twice served on the Committee previously (200-01 & 2014-15).

Dr Lewis was professionally engaged in defence-related work before entering Parliament, as he studied the history of British defence policy and served for three years as a Seaman on a minesweeper in the Royal Naval Reserve. He has also published two books on defence an military history (2003 & 2011), and more recently published a major paper on International Terrorism: the Case for Containment’, in a US defence journal (2012).

Dr Lewis is an advocate of meeting the 2% defence spend target.

Education Committee

Neil Carmichael, Conservative MP for Stroud, has been elected Chair of the Education Committee. Mr Carmichael plans for more forward thinking projects to tackle either long-standing concerns or policy areas where new thinking is required. Such inquiries will address the ‘productivity gap’ in terms of career preparation and skills, strengthening accountability of academies and free schools, restructuring the school funding formula, child protection with a special focus on improving agency cooperation, role and responsibilities of the relatively new Regional Commissioners, and a wide ranging study of strategies for “Early Years”.

In the last Parliament, Mr Carmichael served on the Education Committee, established the APPG on School Governance and Leadership, and promoted the skills agenda, especially in connection with manufacturing and engineering.

Outside of Parliament, Mr Carmichael has been a longstanding school and college governor, occasional university visiting lecturer, key proponent of University Technical Colleges, and a regular contributor to publications on education policy on such matter as governance and school self-improvement.

Energy and Climate Change Committee

Angus Brendan MacNeil, Scottish National Party MP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar, has been elected as Chair of the Energy and Climate Change Committee as he was the sole candidate nominated for the position.  As Chair, we expect Mr MacNeil to prioritise continuing to highlight fuel poverty, electricity market reform implementation and ensuring that the government ensures that 15% of our energy from renewables by 2020.

As an SNP MP, Mr MacNeil is likely to be popular with green businesses consider the ambitious green energy and emission reduction targets the party has committed to through the Holyrood government. The SNP government has also imposed a moratorium on shale gas exploration in Scotland, and is pursuing plans to establish Scotland as one of the world’s first zero waste nations.
Mr MacNeil is likely to oversee investigations on a wide range of topics, including the UK’s next wave of carbon budgets, the government’s role at this year’s Paris Summit, the development of the fracking industry, and the ongoing smart meter rollout.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee

Neil Parish, Conservative MP for Tiverton and Honiton, was the sole candidate nominated as Chair of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee and has therefore been elected as Chair.

Mr Parish has been a member of the Committee since 2010 and has said that he is looking forward “to helping make sure that issues concerning our countryside, environment, flooding and food security are properly dealt with”.

Before being elected to Westminster Mr Parish spent ten years on the European Agriculture and Rural Development Committee, which he chaired for two and a half years. He believes that reform of the Common Agricultural Policy is needed and has animal welfare at the very centre of his focus. Additionally, Mr Parish believes that the roll-out of rural broadband is a key factor in ending rural isolation and developing the rural economy.

Environmental Audit Committee

Huw Irranca-Davies, Labour MP for Ogmore, has been elected Chair of the Environmental Audit Committee. During the last parliament Mr Irranca-Davies received a CIWEM award for Environmental MP of the year. Mr Irranca-Davies was a Defra Minister for the Marine and Natural Environment (2008-10), Shadow Energy Minister for DECC (2010-11) and Shadow Minister for Food, Farming and Rural Affairs (2011-15).

Mr Irranca-Davies plans to help as well as hold the government to account by ensuring that: it achieves the appropriate balance between the three pillars of sustainable development – the economy, environment, and society – in all policies and in policy-making; well-being and inequality are at the heart of government policy on sustainable development in the UK (for example, in air quality improvements) and also in negotiations on ambitious SDG targets at an EU and UN level; and engaging people and communities in policy and decisions on the natural environment and sustainability.

Foreign Affairs Committee

Crispin Blunt, Conservative MP for Reigate, has been elected Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee. Mr Blunt was an Army Officer, 1979-1990 (served in England, Cyprus and Germany) and commanded an armoured reconnaissance squadron, and is a regional specialist in Middle Eastern issues, having been Chair of the APPG for Jordan, Co-Chair of the Council for Arab-British Understanding and an Officer for the Conservative Parliamentary Friends of India.

Topics of interest for the Committee include:
an analysis of the costs and benefits arising from a decision to stay or leave the European Union; Libya; Russia; Islamic state; and Political Islam.

Health Committee

Dr Sarah Wollaston, Conservative MP for Totnes, has been re-elected Chair of the Health Committee, a position she has held since 2014. Dr Wollaston worked as an NHS doctor for 24 years, where she gained experience in both hospital and primary care, before becoming a Member of Parliament in 2010.

Dr Wollaston has stated that she would like to continue the last Committee’s inquiry into Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, as well as examine the policy, administration and expenditure of the Department of Health and its associated bodies.

Home Affairs Committee

Keith Vaz, Labour MP for Leicester East, has been re-elected Chair of the Home Affairs Committee, a position he has held since 2007. Mr Vaz has previously overseen reports on inquiries which recommended: the abolition of the UKBA; compensation to the taxpayer following the failure of contractors during the Olympics; and the removal of children with mental health issues from police cells.

We expect the Committee to initially focus on the illegal migration crisis, tackling extremism and strengthening deradicalisation measures, and the growing prevalence of legal highs and abuse of prescription drugs.

International Development Committee

Stephen Twigg, Labour MP for Liverpool, West Derby, has been elected Chair of the International Development Committee. Mr Twigg has extensive experience of International Development, having Director of the Foreign Policy Centre think tank and through his work at the Aegis Trust charity.

2015 is going to be an important year for international development, with a summit next month in Addis Ababa on financing for development, a summit in New York on the post-2015 sustainable development goals in September and the Paris climate change conference in December.

Justice Committee

Robert Neill, Conservative MP for Bromley and Chislehurst, has been elected Chair of the Justice Committee. Mr Neill served on the Justice Committee in the 2005-10 Parliament, and was particularly involved in Reports produced on Sentencing Policy and Restorative Justice. Before entering Parliament in 2006, he was a Barrister.

Northern Ireland Affairs Committee

Laurence Robertson, Conservative MP for Tewkesbury, has been re-elected as Chair of the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee having been the sole candidate nominated for the role. During the last Parliament the Committee were responsible for setting the rate of Corporation Tax in Northern Ireland, recommended exploring the possibilities of a Common Visa for the UK and Ireland, and were instrumental in the reduction of Air Passenger Duty for long-haul flights from Northern Ireland.

In the current Parliament we can expect the Northern Ireland Committee to consider the situation regarding the on-the-runs, who received “comfort letters”, the workings of the institutions in Northern Ireland and how they might be improved, and the general security situation and how the peace might be cemented, amongst other things.

Petitions Committee

Helen Jones, Labour MP for Warrington South, has been elected Chair of the Petitions Committee, ahead of Nick Smith, Labour MP for Blaenau Gwent.

Procedure Committee

Charles Walker, Conservative MP for Broxbourne, was an unopposed candidate for the role of Chair of the Procedure Committee and is therefore elected Chair. The Procedure Committee’s role is to consider the practice and procedure of the House in the conduct of public business.

Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee

Bernard Jenkin, Conservative MP for Harwich and North Essex, has been re-elected Chair of the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee. The Committee examines constitutional issues and the quality and standards of administration within the Civil Service. It also scrutinises the reports of the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.

Science and Technology Committee

Nicola Blackwood, Conservative MP for Oxford West, has been elected Chair of the Science and Technology Committee, in a heavily contested race between four other nominees.

Scottish Affairs Committee

Pete Wishart, Scottish National Party MP for Perth and North Perthshire, has been elected as Chair of the Scottish Affairs Committee.
The Scottish Affairs Committee’s role is to examine the expenditure, administration and policy of the Scotland Office and its associated bodies.

Standards Committee

Kevin Barron, Labour MP for Rother Valley, has been elected Chair of the Standards Committee, which was appointed in 2012 by the House of Commons following its separation from the now former Committee on Standards and Privileges.

Transport Committee

Louise Ellman, Labour MP for Liverpool, Riverside, has been re-elected as Chair of the Transport Committee, a role she has held since 2008. Ms Ellman is supportive of the high-speed HS2 link, but has recently criticised the Government funding formula for rail investment which has resulted in investment per head in London being £294 but just £89 in the North West.

The last Committee focused heavily on aviation and this was reflected in the Davies Commission’s interim report and their inquiries on HS2 led to significant changes in approach, emphasising the importance of an integrated railway. We expect Ms Ellman to continue to focus on aviation, rail, transport devolution and unequal investment in transport across the regions, including the Pennines and East Anglia.

Welsh Affairs Committee

David T.C Davies, Conservative MP for Monmouth, has been re-elected Chair of the Welsh Affairs Committee.  We expect the Committee to focus on further powers for the Welsh Assembly, the “Barnett” formula, and transport links including the Severn Bridge which is likely to revert to public ownership during this Parliamentary term.

Women and Equalities Committee

Maria Miller, Conservative MP for Basingstoke, has been elected Chair of the newly appointed Women and Equalities Committee, which will examine the expenditure, administration and policy of the Government Equalities Office (GEO). Ms Miller was Minister for Women and Equalities between 2012 and 2014. Areas that Ms Miller want to focus on include: women’s access to executive management jobs, the media and arts record on equality, disabled people’s participation in society, and the Government’s policies supporting Transgender men and women.

Work and Pensions Committee

Frank Field, Labour MP for Birkenhead, has been elected Chair of the Work and Pensions Committee. Mr Field is set to seek to yield improvements in the delivery of benefits, maintain a critical watch on the development of Universal Credit, and monitor the effectiveness of recent pension reforms.

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