Northern Ireland

Simon Hoare elected NI Affairs Committee chairman

Simon Hoare Image copyright Conservative Party
Image caption Simon Hoare is MP for North Dorset

Conservative MP Simon Hoare has been elected as the new chairman of the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee at Westminster.

Mr Hoare takes over from Andrew Murrison, who stood down last month to take up a post as a junior minister.

The new chair was selected following a secret ballot by MPs from across Parliament.

The committee examines the administration, spending and policy of the Northern Ireland Office.

'Backed remain'

Speaker John Bercow made the announcement in the Commons on Wednesday afternoon.

There were three candidates in the race - Maria Caulfield, Mark Pritchard and Mr Hoare.

Mr Hoare, the MP for North Dorset, received 239 votes, out of 444 votes that were cast in total.

Mr Hoare backed remain in the EU referendum in 2016, but also voted in favour of the government's withdrawal deal three times.

He is backing Sajid Javid in the race to become the next Conservative leader.

What does the NI Affairs Committee do?

Image caption Chief Constable George Hamilton was questioned by committee members in June 2018

The committee examines the administration, spending and policy of the Northern Ireland Office and holds the secretary of state to account about her work.

It is made up of 13 MPs and currently includes several Democratic Unionist Party MPs and independent unionist MP Lady Hermon.

It mainly works by carrying out inquiries into various issues.

Previous inquiries it has undertaken include the impact of Brexit and the backstop, how the education sector is funded and welfare policy in Northern Ireland.

It also has the power to call witnesses to give oral evidence.

Previous witnesses to appear before it include former Taoiseach (Irish prime minister) Bertie Ahern and outgoing PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton.

The committee can also meet away from Westminster, and on various occasions has held its evidence sessions at Stormont.

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