Chris Bryant and Darren Jones elected as key select committee chairs

Elliot Chappell
© UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor

Darren Jones has been elected by MPs as the new chair of the business energy and industrial strategy select committee, and Chris Bryant as chair of the standards committee.

Following their nomination by party colleagues earlier this week, both backbench Labour MPs have been selected to head up the work of the committees in an online ballot that took place today.

In a statement to MPs, Jones wrote about the economic recovery after the pandemic and tackling climate change – as well as the need to be a team player, saying that “now is not the time for tribal politics”.

He faced competition from Stella Creasy, who emphasised the role of the committee in the scrutinising government policy throughout the recovery period in her statement, while also highlighting the problems with support for businesses.

Angela Eagle also stood. She stressed the need for creative and innovative solutions to help the UK rebuild after Covid-19, while warning that the country must not miss opportunities during the recovery to transition to a green economy.

In the standards committee election, Bryant wrote that “it would be wrong to have a manifesto” as the standards chair should act as an “independent adjudicator” on complaints. He described how his 19-year’s experience as an MP made him suitable for the position.

He went up against Yvonne Fovargue, who used her statement to focus on public confidence in the system of self-regulation for MPs, saying that she would continue with a review of sanctions, “ensuring fairness and clarity”.

An online ballot took place between 10am and 2pm today, as part of parliament’s modified semi-virtual format during the coronavirus pandemic. An alternative vote system was employed in the competition.

There were 540 and 544 votes cast in each of the standards and BEIS elections respectively. Jones won his in the second round of counting with 296 votes, while Bryant was elected to the standards committee with 322 first preferences.

Select committees are appointed by the Commons to examine the expenditure, administration and policy of government departments and associated bodies. They can scrutinise various things, including the conduct of individual MPs.

A proportion of the committee membership is allocated to each political party depending on the number of representatives that they have in parliament. The committee members are therefore decided through internal party elections.

Nominations for the election of chairs for the BEIS and standards committees closed on May 4th. As decided by an order of the House only a member of the Labour Party could be a candidate for either committee.

To stand to be the chair of a select committee, a sitting MP must secure the nomination of 15 colleagues in their party, or 10% depending on which is least. All of the MPs then vote by secret ballot.

Bryant had been nominated by Labour MPs Kate Green, Christian Matheson, Alex Sobel, Stella Creasy, Dame Diana Johnson, Sir George Howarth, Ruth Cadbury, Peter Kyle, Maria Eagle, Alison McGovern, Jess Phillips, Kevin Brennan, Ms Lyn Brown, Carolyn Harris and Kerry McCarthy.

Jones was nominated to be BEIS committee chair by Anna McMorrin, Ben Bradshaw, Ellie Reeves, Emma Hardy, Holly Lynch, Jess Phillips, Kate Green, Kerry McCarthy, Pat McFadden, Preet Gill, Sarah Jones, Seema Malhotra, Mr Stephen Morgan, Tonia Antoniazzi and Mr Virendra Sharma.

The chairs of select committees receive an annual salary in addition to their wage as an MP. Since April 2017, this has been £15,235 and is set by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority.

Now that the chairs have been elected, they will sit until the end of the parliament. More information on the committees, including their work and membership can be found on the UK parliament website.

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