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Last updated: June 10, 2010 8:17 pm
Margaret Hodge, a former Labour minister, and Andrew Tyrie, a Conservative economist and former Treasury adviser,emerged as winners on Thursday in the first elections to choose the chairmen of Commons select committees.
Ms Hodge said she was delighted to become “the first woman in 150 years” to run the Commons public accounts committee, charged with identifying and rooting out government waste.
Mr Tyrie was elected chairman of the Commons Treasury committee – a high-profile role that could see him become a thorn in the side of George Osborne, chancellor.
Both have promised to be fiercely independent and claim they will enjoy enhanced credibility from the fact that, for the first time, they have been elected by MPs from all sides of the Commons.
John Bercow, the speaker, announced the results, amid hopes that they would lead to a rebalancing of power and influence between MPs and the government.
Graham Allen, elected chairman of the Commons political reform committee, said “the tectonic plates are shifting”. He said the new breed of elected chairmen were “genuine parliamentary figures”.
“Nobody can accuse them of being the puppets of the whips,” he said. “This is a very optimistic moment.”
Ms Hodge had to beat off opposition from five other Labour MPs to secure the chairmanship of the public accounts committee and promised that she and her colleagues would be active in rooting out waste.
Mr Tyrie held off a challenge from Michael Fallon, a Tory colleague, to take on a job that propelled the former chairman, Labour’s John McFall, into the spotlight during the financial crisis.
Another winner on the day was Richard Ottaway, who failed to become chairman of the Tory 1922 committee but has now landed the post of foreign affairs chairman.
James Arbuthnot saw off his rival Patrick Mercer, a Tory security expert, to remain chairman of the defence committee. Bernard Jenkin, a former Tory minister, will head the public administration committee.
Supporters of parliament believe the election of these chairmen – breaking the power of patronage of party whips – will make them credible and influential checks on the executive.
Collectively, they will form a “committee of chairmen”, which will conduct regular grillings of the prime minister. Mr Allen believes this will be a powerful successor to the old liaison committee.
Adrian Bailey, the new Labour chair of the business select committee, pledged to avoid a partisan approach to scrutinising the Con-Lib coalition.
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