Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Electing Select Committee Chairmen

Following the Deputy Speaker election today, tomorrow we move onto the election for Select Committee Chairmen. The Conservatives will chair 12 select committees, Labour 9 and the LibDems two. ConservativeHome has the full list of nominations HERE.

Furthermore, Tim Montgomerie and Will Straw have written a joint article endorsing four candidates. I have to say I think Tim has lost his marbles in endorsing Keith Vaz and Margaret Hodge. I'd rather stick needles in my eyes. Keith Vaz has been an appalling chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee and to suggest that Margaret Hodge would make a good chairman of the Public Accounts Committee almost defies belief. How anyone could suggest that this woman should have oversight of anything bearing in mind her past record is just incredible.

I'm not endorsing any candidates as I think it is somewhat grandiose to even think of doing so, but there is no doubt that there are some interesting competitions.


James Arbuthnot, the incumbent, and no doubt the choice of the whips, is facing some stiff competition. Both Douglas Carswell and Patrick Mercer could attract some solid support from the Labour benches, while Julian Lewis will get the votes of the Tory Right. Mercer would get the Committee a very strong media profile, while Carswell would put the fear of God into defence contractors and the MoD procurement department.


The conventional wisdom is that Stephen Dorrell, the former Health Secretary in the Major government will win by a country mile, but I wonder. He's seen very rarely in the Commons, hardly ever makes a speech and was a very mediocre Cabinet Minister. He holds 13 directorships and consultancies, which probably accounts for why he's rarely seen. The other three candidates are Sir Paul Beresford, a dentist by profession and a solid performer, Peter Bone, the right wing Wellingborough MP who is developing a high media profile, and last but not least, Nadine Dorries.

Nadine is basing her bid around her experience in the NHS. She would certainly give a much higher profile to the Committee, but will need to reassure MPs on both sides of the House that she will act as a team player. I understand she has written to MPs on this issue and reassured Labour MPs that she wouldn't let her views on abortion interfere with her ability to do the job. She has an impressive and cross party list of nominators.


Michael Fallon has secured the support of most of the members of the Treasury Committee but he is facing a very strong challenge from Andrew Tyrie, one of the Conservative Party's most original thinkers on economic and constitutional issues. Fallon has a fine track record on the Committee as John McFall's deputy for the last eight years and has shown just the right amount of independence of mind to convince many that he would make a very good Treasury Select Committee Chairman. He has shown himself to be fearless in tackling those who get stuff wrong - whether it's the Governor of the Bank of England, bank chiefs or the Chancellor.

Andrew Tyrie has the advantage of having worked in the Treasury for four years and as a senior economist at the EBRD. He's the current Spectator Backbencher of the Year and Fraser Nelson said of him "He’s got, perhaps, one of the best minds in the Party… Sometimes he is the conscience of his party (sometimes he is a thorn in its side) but when he stands up always he is a man worth listening to."

I'm relieved I don't have a vote as I would find it very difficult to choose between them. They are two absolutely outstanding candidates.

I wish I had time to go through the rest, but I'm afraid I don't.

What is clear is that the whole process of electing Select Committee Chairmen will have been a revelation, especially to new MPs. They've had to form opinions of their colleagues very quickly and it will be interesting to know if they have been persuaded to vote on 'slates' run by various groups within the parties.

The House of Commons has a full list of all Select Committee Nominations (up to the end of yesterday) together with their list of nominators. Nominations close tonight.


GnosticBrian said...

Perhaps it is no coincidence that the Mail has resurrected this example of Vaz's probity: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1262589/Keith-Vaz-The-truth-crooked-lawyer-Labour-MP-tries-charge-crucial-committee.html ?

Bird said...

Agree with you about Hodge and Vas.
Hodge has an appalling record in local government, but has been trying to re-invent herself as the champion of working class views on immigration.
Vas is such a slimey operator, I can't bear to see or hear him. I notice the Daily Mail are on his case today with more dirt on his relationship with a crooked lawyer.
Arbuthnot is my local MP. He must be the most boring hack in the Commons. Ex-soldier Patrick Mercer should get the Defence committee job.

Grant Blowers said...

Unfortunately ConservativeHome DOESN'T list all the nominations, just the committees that have been allocated to the Conservatives. Shame really, it would be good to have seen them all.

The Grim Reaper said...

It's like the World Cup, only on a far smaller scale and considerably more boring.

It's all so underwhelming.

Craig Ryan said...

Even as a Labour supporter, I have to agree with Iain about keith Vaz. His chairmanship has been a mixture of complacency, sycophancy and pomposity - none are qualities you want in that job. He totally failed to hold the last government to account and I don't think he'll do any better with this one.

(I must admit that one of the first things I did as a new member of the Labour Party 25 years ago was vote to select Keith as parliamentary candidate for the (hopeless) seat of Surrey NW - now Michael Gove's seat. I remember his as very sharp, intelligent and chatty. No idea what happened to him. Or maybe I was more easily impressed in those days.)

pete-s said...

Had a look at the Commons nominations PDF. There was a lot of 'I vote for you, you vote for me' nominations. Agree about Vaz, what an oily article! My overall conclusion is that they may have eliminated financial corruption, but the level of moral fortitude has not improved.

The Lincolnshire Poacher said...

Personally, I'd rather stick needles in Vaz's eyes.

What an appalling slimeball he is!

James said...

I don't know if anyone has picked up on this, but Nadine Dorries cant stand as a cmmt chair, as she hasnt been an MP long enough.

You have to have been an MP for 2 successive parliaments or 8 years.

I could be wrong.

Sean Haffey said...

Disagree with Bird.

You don't want the Chairman of the Defence Select Committee to be flashy. You want him to be sound. James Arbuthnot is excellent in the role.

The King of Wrong said...

Much as I like Douglas Carswell - and I really do - I think he'd be an appalling choice for the Defence Select Committee chair.

His heart's clearly in the right place, but his naivete on defence procurement would see him used as a "useful idiot" by DE&S to fight their corner against the very necessary cuts in their procurement empire.

Douglas would make a very good member of the committee, and I think he'd learn a lot from it, but not as chairman.

Glyn H said...

Lady Hodge of Camden? Vaz, the most important Asian in GB? Can these disgusting troughing free loading toads be for real? It makes me want to go and have a shower to even think these vile new labour toads are still in public life.

Lady Finchley said...

Go, Mercer. go Mercer! He would be an excellent choice and yes, I agree totally about Vaz - would rather have a 1000 paper cuts on my face.

Roger Thornhill said...

Nadine Dorres in Health?

Am I right or wrong to suspect hat ND's stance on abortion is based in part on her faith?

If so I would not wish her to be anywhere near such an entitiy.

Base such things on facts, science and reason. Religion is the antithesis of that.

David said...

It has to be Carswell for Defence. He'd rock a boat that sorely, sorely needs it.

The King of Wrong said...

Not really. He'd throw a hissy fit about some minor detail, and get thrown overboard, as with the AFPS.

Defence procurement is an utter mess, but Carswell's ill-considered "solution" (scrapping a policy - DIS - that the 17,000 bureaucrats in MoD procurement hate and largely refuse to abide by) will significantly increase the costs and delays of defence procurement, by being used as justification to blow hundreds of millions of pounds on multi-year "competitions" where there are at most one or two possible bidders. It would be FRES all over again - a £6bn project scrapped, after a decade, with absolutely nothing to show for it except for a set of "requirements" documents which might, just about, be possible within the laws of physics, and a huge bill for consultants.

There are people who know what they're talking about with defence procurement - Bernard Gray and Lord Drayson would be at the top of the list - but I'm afraid Douglas Carswell is out of his depth. His simplistic (and premeditated - Hansard, March 2007, column 1031W) attack on the AFPS demonstrated that.