Nominations from within each party for Select Committees chair-person roles closed on June 9th, when the unopposed candidates took their seats on the newly re-formed committees. The elections for the committees where a contest was needed went ahead this Wednesday (June 10th) by a secret ballot of MPs. The Committees of interest to BES will be chaired by a mixture of both Labour and Conservative Members, some of whom have specialist knowledge gained from extensive parliamentary and government careers in relevant policy areas.
The Science and Technology Committee will be chaired by the Conservative Andrew Miller MP, whose political interests include science and technology, as shown by his long-standing membership of Scientists for Labour and his roles on the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee since 1997. As a board member for the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology in the early 1990s, and as a former member of the Science and Technology Select Committee between 1992 and 1997, his role as Chair seems a natural progression for this established parliamentarian. Commenting on his appointment, Miller said “I would like to see the Committee focussing its attention on helping to maintain the strength of the UK’s science base and also improving public understanding of some of the challenging scientific issues facing us today.”
The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee receives Anne McIntosh MP as its new chair, who has sat as a member on the Committee since 2007 and previously on similar Select Committees scrutinising former environment and transport departments during the Blair Government. She has held corresponding Shadow Ministerial roles during this period, including Shadow Minister for Transport (2002-03), Environment and Transport (2003-05), and later as Shadow Minister for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (2007-10). A former MEP, the Thirsk and Malton MP has long standing political interests in transport and agriculture.
The Environmental Audit Committee will be headed up by the Labour MP for Stoke-on-Trent North since 1987, Joan Walley. In opposition, Ms Walley served as Spokesperson on Environmental Protection and Development (1988-90) and on Transport (1990-95). She is a member of SERA, the Labour Environment Campaign, which reflects her political interests in this area. Ms Walley’s appointment follows her long service as an Environmental Audit Committee member, a position she has held since 1997. Ms Walley today spoke of her passion for the subject, saying “I have a long standing passion for environmental issues and I look forward to using my chairmanship to hold the government to account and ensure that environmental sustainability is at the heart of everything it does.”
The Energy and Climate Change Committee gains the experienced former chair of the Environmental Audit Committee, the Conservative’s Tim Yeo MP. As MP for South Suffolk for more than 25 years, Yeo has served as a junior minister in the Department for Environment under John Major’s premiership, and later as as Minister of State for the Countryside and Environment, where, according to his website, he “reformed planning law, helped to develop climate change policy and established the now thriving Energy Saving Trust”. In Opposition he has held relevant shadow ministerial roles including Environment and Local Government spokesman (1997-98), Shadow Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1998-2001) and Shadow Secretary of State for Transport and the Environment (2004-05). His five years as Environmental Audit Committee Chairman up until the election has given him substantial Select Committee experience.
With chairs now in place, the membership of these Committees will take shape in the coming weeks.