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Hillier to chair key MPs' committee

Published 18/06/2015

Labour's Meg Hillier will chair the influential Commons Public Accounts Committee
Labour's Meg Hillier will chair the influential Commons Public Accounts Committee

The powerful Public Accounts Committee will be headed by Labour former minister Meg Hillier, Speaker John Bercow has announced alongside the results of all the Commons select committee chair elections.

In other high profile appointments, Julian Lewis won the chairmanship of the Defence Select Committee, which is now likely to pressure the Government over meeting Nato's 2% defence spending target.

Fellow Tory Crispin Blunt will head up the Foreign Affairs Committee while Jesse Norman beat outspoken critic of Fifa Damian Collins to chair the Culture, Media and Sport Committee.

Meanwhile, Labour former welfare minister Frank Field, seen as a committed reformer, will head up the Work and Pensions Committee.

The influential Backbench Business Committee, which allocates time for MPs to debate their chosen subjects on the floor of the Commons, will be chaired by Labour's Ian Mearns.

Resuming their posts are high profile Home Affairs Committee chair Keith Vaz and widely respected Health Committee chair Sarah Wollaston.

Ms Hillier will take over the Public Accounts Committee from Margaret Hodge, who became known for skewering multinational corporations over their tax affairs.

The Hackney South and Shoreditch MP said: "I have been a member of the committee for five years and I am delighted to have the opportunity to continue to challenge government and also public service providers and to press for more efficient and effective services for users."

Ms Hillier took the committee with a majority of 33 votes, beating Gisela Stuart into second place.

Dr Wollaston was re-elected with a huge majority after her only challenger, Tory homeopathy supporter David Tredinnick, garnered only 64 votes to the GP's 532.

Mr Blunt beat David Cameron's close ally Nadhim Zahawi into second place in a five way race for the Foreign Affairs Committee, eventually winning by 281 votes to 231 in the fourth round run-off.

Mr Lewis took the Defence Committee chair at the second time of asking after losing out narrowly a year ago to Rory Stewart, who vacated the post to become a Government minister.

Select committees are made up of a cross-party group of MPs and their main role is to scrutinise government policy independently.

The sought after chairmanships give MPs the power to summon witnesses to Parliament and are worth a £14,876 pay rise alongside extra staff.

Some of the most memorable moments of the last parliament were provided by select committees, such as Rupert Murdoch's appearance before the Culture Committee during the height of the phone hacking scandal, or former RBS chief Fred Goodwin's apology to the Treasury Committee for his role in the bank's collapse.

The elections for the chairs of the contested committees were held by secret ballot yesterday.

No ballot was necessary for 12 committees for which a single nomination had been received.

In the contested elections, a total of 621 ballot papers were submitted, the ballots being counted under the Alternative Vote system.

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