Ahead of the committee chair elections tomorrow, Conservative MPs Jacob Rees-Mogg and Nicky Morgan have been named as the frontrunners for the coveted Treasury Committee role, with Meg Hillier remaining head of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC)
The Treasury Committee and Education have received the highest number of nominations with six candidates each.
Along with Rees-Mogg and Morgan; Richard Bacon, former deputy chairman of PAC; Charlie Elphicke, a government whip; Stephen Hammond, economist; and John Penrose, parliamentary secretary, are also running for the post.
Only Conservative MPs can currently run for the role as it has previously been agreed that the chair must be a member of the governing party.
Morgan has the support of five Labour MPs as well as Michael Gove while Rees-Mogg is backed by Conservative MPs such as Philip Davies, John Whittingdale and Esther McVey as well as a handful of Labour and SNP MPs.
If elected Morgan will become the first female chair of the Treasury Committee. She has previously been a Treasury Minister, having served as both Economic Secretary and Financial Secretary in 2013 and 2014. More recently she was Secretary of State for Education from 2014 to 2016. Before coming an MP she worked as a solicitor for 16 years specialising in mergers and acquisitions.
Morgan said: ‘I know, from my time working in the Treasury, that its remit and that of the other relevant bodies such as the Bank of England, Financial Conduct Authority and HMRC is broad.
‘Therefore, as well as inquiries into Brexit, I would be keen to hold inquiries into issues that are of most relevance to our constituents such as: tax policy, public spending decisions, household debt, skills funding, the National Infrastructure Plan, childcare funding and income inequality as well as quizzing Ministers on economic policy and critical issues such as productivity. I am also keen to pursue topics such as the lack of gender diversity in financial services.’
Rees-Mogg has a background in financial services in both the UK and Hong Kong, having set up his own investment management business in 2007. He was previously a member of the Treasury Committee from 2015 to 2017 and has also been present in the European Scrutiny Committee.
Rees-Mogg said: ‘Inevitably, there will be elements of Brexit that will need investigation, economic questions as well as regulatory ones. In this area although I have strong views a Chairman has a duty to put those aside and achieve consensus and balance.
‘Those of you with whom I have had the privilege to work know that, above all, I value the proper conduct of Parliament so would not seek to make the Treasury Select Committee a megaphone for my own personal position but rather a platform for debate and for answers that drew from the range of views and experience of the members.’
The role of Treasury Committee chair become vacant when Andrew Tyrie stepped down at the recent general election. Tyrie became chair after the 2010 election, and has been at the forefront of evidence sessions on a number of high profile inquiries, including banking standards, the UK’s future economic relationship with the EU, Budget scrutiny, the Financial Conduct Authority, and the UK tax policy and tax base.
As Meg Hillier was the only candidate for the role of PAC chair she will be declared to be elected unopposed when the Speaker announces the result of the chair election. Hillier has been PAC chair for the past two years and a member of the Committee for four.
Hillier said: ‘I have worked hard to ensure that the Committee's scrutiny is effective and focused. I have also lived up to the promise I made to involve MPs across Parliament, providing a weekly update on the Committee’s work and encouraging colleagues to provide information to feed into the Committee’s inquiries.
‘The work of the Public Accounts Committee is never done. Our important constitutional position and our track record is part of our strength.’
Elections for the chairs of 11 select committees will take place on Wednesday 12 July from 10am to 4pm. The results are expected to be announced by the Speaker, the Rt Hon John Bercow, as soon as possible after the ballots close.