Hodge is the new chair of the PAC

17 Jun 10
Former culture minister Margaret Hodge has been elected chair of the Public Accounts Committee
By Jaimie Kaffash

17 June 2010

Former culture minister Margaret Hodge has been elected chair of the Public Accounts Committee.

The Labour MP for Barking saw off the challenge from four other Labour MPs to take the post, widely regarded as one of the most influential backbench roles in Parliament.

Hodge was minister for culture and tourism in 2007 to 2008 and again from 2009 to 2010. She was also minister for children between 2003 and 2005.

In the run-up to her election, she promised to conduct a ‘postmortem’ on the Labour government’s public spending. She also said she would consider setting up a cross-committee inquiry, involving the Treasury select committee, to review the public sector deficit.

Former Labour whip Clive Betts beat former local government minister Nick Raynsford to take over as chair of the communities and local government select committee.

Speaking to Public Finance after his election, Betts warned that funding cuts could have ‘devastating’ effects on local government and harm the most needed services.

He added that if councils were being forced to make cuts they would have to be given greater control of their finances and the CLG select committee would have a central role in building consensus for change.

‘Can we work across parties to get somewhere? In a select committee, we probably can. I think this is the area that a select committee, objectively looking at the evidence and working collectively, can be
of real benefit,’ he said.

The Treasury committee will be headed by Conservative MP Andrew Tyrie, an economic adviser to former Conservative chancellors Nigel Lawson and John Major.

Other notable victors included Labour’s Keith Vaz, who held on to his role as chair of the home affairs select committee, and former Conservative health secretary Stephen Dorrell, who will be in charge of the health select committee.

Labour MP Louise Ellman and Liberal Democrat Sir Alan Beith were re-elected unopposed to the transport and justice select committees respectively. Beith is one of two LibDems to chair a select committee, the other being Malcolm Bruce on international development.

This is the first time there have been elections for chairs of select committees.

The move follows proposals in the report on Commons reform, prepared by the former chair of the public administration select committee, Tony Wright.

See next week’s PF for an in-depth interview with Margaret Hodge

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