UK Politics

Frank Field elected Work and Pensions Committee chairman

Frank Field

Former Labour welfare reform minister Frank Field has been elected as the new Work and Pensions Committee chairman.

He has been a vocal critic of the department's flagship Universal Credit scheme designed to streamline benefits.

The Defence Committee will be chaired by Tory Julian Lewis, an advocate of meeting the 2% defence spend target.

Labour's Meg Hillier is to chair the influential Public Accounts Committee, parliament's public spending watchdog, of which she used to be a member.

The elections for the select committee chairs were conducted via secret ballot of MPs.

Speaker John Bercow announced the results in the House of Commons during Thursday's business, informing MPs that 621 members took part.

Twelve of the 27 committee chairmen had already been elected unopposed.

The roles have been divided up between the political parties based on the results of the general election.

The results

Image caption Speaker John Bercow announced the new committee chairmen and chairwomen to MPs
  • Backbench Business Committee - Labour - Ian Mearns
  • Business, Innovation and Skills Committee - Labour - Iain Wright
  • Culture, Media and Sport Committee - Con - Jesse Norman
  • Defence Committee - Con - Julian Lewis
  • Education Committee - Con - Neil Carmichael
  • Environmental Audit Committee - Labour - Huw Irranca-Davies
  • Foreign Affairs Committee - Con - Crispin Blunt
  • Health Committee - Con - Sarah Wollaston
  • Home Affairs Committee - Labour - Keith Vaz
  • International Development Committee - Labour - Stephen Twigg
  • Justice Committee - Con - Robert Neill
  • Petitions Committee - Labour - Helen Jones
  • Public Accounts Committee - Labour - Meg Hillier
  • Science and Technology Committee - Con - Nicola Blackwood
  • Work and Pensions Committee - Labour - Frank Field

Labour MP Ian Mearns will take over the Backbench Business Committee, which allocates non-government time in the Commons for MPs to debate their chosen subjects.

This was previously headed by Labour's Natascha Engel who is now a deputy Commons Speaker.

Meanwhile, Keith Vaz stays on at the Home Affairs Committee despite a challenge from Fiona Mactaggart, as does Conservative Sarah Wollaston at health.

The elections are conducted using an "alternative vote" system, under which MPs rank their favourites in order of preference, with the first to get more than 50% of votes going through.

Some, like Public Accounts and Backbench Business, are reserved for the Opposition, but the rest are parcelled out in proportion to the parties' strength.

With the Conservatives now running a majority government, they take on the chairmanship of the Justice Committee, previously held by Lib Dem veteran Sir Alan Beith.

Meanwhile, the SNP - which is now the third largest party in the Commons - has been handed the Scottish Affairs and Energy and Climate Change.

Committee chairmen receive extra pay on top of their MP's salaries for doing the job.

Here is the list of the committee chairmen who were re-elected unopposed:

  • Clive Betts, Labour, Communities and Local Government
  • Angus McNeil, SNP, Energy and Climate Change
  • Neil Parish, Con, Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
  • Laurence Robertson, Con, Northern Ireland
  • Charles Walker, Con, Procedure
  • Bernard Jenkin, Con, Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs
  • Pete Wishart, SNP, Scottish Affairs
  • Kevin Barron, Lab, Standards
  • Louise Ellman, Lab, Transport
  • Andrew Tyrie, Con, Treasury
  • David TC Davies, Co, Welsh Affairs
  • Maria Miller, Con, Women and Equalities Committee.

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