Four MPs lined up for Public Accounts Committee chair

by Our Parliamentary Correspondent

03 Jun 2010

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Four Labour MPs are battling it out to become the next chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, the influential watchdog for government accounting.

Former Labour Environment minister and left-winger Michael Meacher and veteran PAC member Austin Mitchell, with well-known views about the need to separate accountants' consultancy and audit work - plus former culture minister Margaret Hodge and former Transport Committee and Administration Committee member Brian Donohoe – are on the list.

Only Hodge, a daughter of multi-millionaire Hans Oppenheimer, and Donohoe, who started work as a shipyard fitter, have secured the required number of nominees on the Commons order paper but nominations do not close until Tuesday before voting on Wednesday.

Hodge is a former consultant with Price Waterhouse. She is MP for Barking and has served as universities minister, children's minister and later minister for work under Prime Minister Tony Blair, and as culture minister under Gordon Brown.

Donohoe, MP for Central Ayrshire, a well-liked loyalist backbencher, is a former officer with the local government union NALGO who started work as shipyard fitter.

Meacher is known as a standard-bearer of the Left and has been outspoken on green issues.

Mitchell, a former journalist, was on the PAC from 2005 until the election, is anti-Europe, particularly its Common Fishing Policy.

Although the allocation of chairs to parties has been agreed, all MPs can vote for the member of the party concerned, Labour in the case of the PAC, they wish to see elected.

The new voting process was part of the modernisation of the Commons agreed before the election. Previous chairmen were agreed between the party whips in what was widely regarded as a "fix".

So far only one MP, Tory Michael Fallon, has been nominated to chair the Treasury Select Committee. He was chair of its sub-committee before the election.

Further reading:

New NAO chief defends audit of banks

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