The ex-minister Margaret Hodge is among those who have won a coveted spot as chair of a parliamentary select committee, following yesterday’s secret ballot for the influential posts. She beat Hugh Bayley, her nearest rival for the high-profile role as chair of the public accounts committee, by six votes in the fifth round of voting.
She replaces the Conservative Edward Leigh, who had held the chair since 2001. The public accounts committee, once termed “the queen of the select committees” by Peter Hennessy, is charged with overseeing government spending to ensure accountability and transparancy in the public finances.
Chairing these committees has long been seen as a way for backbenchers to hold the government to account and get their voice heard, but there is also a substantial salary boost, with the chairs receiving an extra £14,582 on top of their MP’s salary in 2010-2011.
It is the first time that the posts have been filled by a ballot of MPs rather than appointment by the party whips. The measure was brought in following the expenses scandal in an effort to reduce the potential for patronage in parliament.
Other key appointments include Keith Vaz, who retains the chair of the home affairs committee, which he has held since 2003, and James Arbuthnot, who also retains his position as chair of the defence committee, a position he has held since 2005.
Stephen Dorrell, health minister in the Major government, was elected chair of the health committee, and Andrew Tyrie takes control of the Treasury committee, which can be expected to play a vocal part in the forthcoming discussion about the role and taxation of the banks.
Twelve committees have a Conservative MP as chairman, while Labour MPs will chair ten and Lib Dem MPs two.
Here’s the full list of appointments:
Business, Innovation and Skills – Adrian Bailey (L)
Children, Schools and Families – Graham Stuart (C)
Communities and Local Government – Clive Betts (L)
Culture, Media and Sport – John Whittingdale* (C)
Defence – James Arbuthnot** (C)
Energy and Climate Change – Tim Yeo (C)
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs – Anne McIntosh (C)
Environmental Audit – Joan Walley (L)
Foreign Affairs – Richard Ottaway (L)
Health – Stephen Dorrell (C)
Home Affairs – Keith Vaz** (L)
Justice – Sir Alan Beith* (LD)
International Development – Malcolm Bruce* (LD)
Nothern Ireland – Laurence Robertson* (C)
Political and Constitutional Reform – Graham Allen (L)
Procedure – Greg Knight* (C)
Public Accounts – Margaret Hodge (L)
Public Administration – Bernard Jenkin (C)
Science and Technology – Andrew Miller (L)
Scottish Affairs – Ian Davidson* (L)
Treasury Committee – Andrew Tyrie (C)
Transport – Louise Ellman*** (L)
Welsh Affairs – David Davies* (C)
Work and Pensions Committee – Anne Begg (L)
*indicates chair was elected unopposed
**indicates previous holder of the position elected