Leigh is shock PAC chair nominee

27 Sep 01
Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith has stunned Tory moderates by selecting the extreme Eurosceptic MP Edward Leigh as his nominee to chair the influential Public Accounts Committee.

28 September 2001

Leigh has outspoken views on abortion, international aid and personal morality. In July, Labour MPs vetoed his candidature for the chair of the Commons international development committee on the grounds that he could not possibly conduct fair hearings.

But Duncan Smith has dismissed claims from supporters of defeated Tory leadership candidate Kenneth Clarke that a moderate such as Andrew Tyrie, who has considerable financial experience, should get the PAC nomination.

Leigh is already a member of the PAC and his name will be put forward by two Tory colleagues at a private business meeting of committee members on October 15.

As Public Finance reported last week, the senior Labour MP on the PAC, Alan Williams, says the chair of the committee has to be held by an opposition MP to safeguard its integrity and bipartisanship. But Labour MPs might still reject Leigh, hoping the Tories would then put up a more acceptable candidate.

The chair of the PAC has considerable weight in selecting topics for investigation by the National Audit Office under its value-for-money programme and works closely with the comptroller and auditor general, currently Sir John Bourn, in preparing and revising reports for publication.

Leigh is not noted for his diplomatic skills.


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