Committee agrees as Yeo steps down
Conservative MP Tim Yeo has formally stood aside as chairman of an influential Commons committee while he faces investigation into claims that he used his position to help business clients.
Members on the Energy and Climate Change Committee unanimously accepted his offer to step down temporarily while the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner carries out its inquiry.
The former minister said in a statement on Monday night that he was taking this action to ensure the "smooth running" of the committee, and insisted he had not breached Commons rules when he spoke to undercover reporters from the Sunday Times.
After meeting fellow committee members behind closed doors at the House of Commons, Mr Yeo left before the meeting moved into open session. Mr Yeo said: "They have unanimously accepted my offer to stand aside for the duration of the inquiry."
Liberal Democrat MP Sir Robert Smith took the chair for the meeting and will remain interim chair for the duration of the inquiry into Mr Yeo.
Sir Robert is MP for West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine. His entry in the MPs' Register of Interests records that he has a registrable share-holding in oil giant Shell and received hospitality from BP during last year's London Olympics, including a ticket to a gymnastics event.
In a statement, the committee said of Mr Yeo: "The committee has unanimously accepted the chair's recommendation that he absent himself from committee business for the duration of the investigation of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, following his self-referral at the weekend.
"The committee expressed confidence in Mr Yeo's chairmanship of the committee, but accepted the recommendation in order to ensure the continued effective and evidence-based work of the committee.
"It the interim period, the committee has unanimously agreed that Sir Robert Smith acts as the interim chair. Mr Tim Yeo will not be drawing a chair's salary during this time."