Margaret Hodge elected chair of Public Accounts Committee

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

10 June 2010

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

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

Hodge was minister for children between 2003 and 2005, and minister for culture and tourism in 2007 to 2008 and 2009 to 2010.

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

The Treasury committee will be headed by the Conservative MP Andrew Tyrie. An economic adviser to former Conservative chancellors Nigel Lawson and John Major, Tyrie takes over from former Labour MP John McFall. He defeated fellow Conservative MP and favourite for the job Michael Fallon. Fallon was McFall’s deputy during the last parliamentary session.

Former Labour whip Clive Betts beat Nick Raynsford to take over as chair of the communities and local government select committee. Raynsford was local government minister from 2001 to 2005 and led a review into local government finance, whose recommendations were largely ignored by the government.

Other notable victors include: Labour’s Keith Vaz, who held on to his role as chair of the home affairs select committee; former Conservative health secretary Stephen Dorrell, who will be in charge of the health committee; and Richard Ottaway, who will chair the foreign affairs select committee. This is a prestigious consolation prize for Ottaway, whose bid to chair the Conservative’s 1922 committee failed after apparent opposition from Prime Minister David Cameron.

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

This is the first time there have been elections for chairs of select committees, in accordance with proposals in the report on Commons reform, prepared towards the end of the last Parliament by then Labour MP Tony Wright.

Wright distinguished himself as the respected chair of the Commons public administration select committee. He has been succeeded as chair by Conservative MP Bernard Jenkin.

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