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Election campaigns underway to choose the next Chair of the S&T Committee

01 Jun 2015

A summary of Select Committee elections.

If you thought election fever was over, think again. The halls of Westminter are abuzz as the race begins to choose who will lead this Parliament’s powerful Select Committees. But don’t worry, it’s just MPs that have to vote this time, although you can contact your MP and try to influence their vote if you wish.

The number of Select Committees each party will Chair is based on the total number of MPs they have. So Conservatives have been given 14 Chairs, Labour have 10, and the SNP get two. The parties themselves then wrangle over which of the 26 committees up for grabs their party will Chair. Of greatest interest to us, the Conservatives have got the Science and Technology Committee (a full list of the Committees is at the bottom of this page).

We’ve heard of five Conservative MPs who have thrown their hat into the ring for the S&T top job:Nicola BlackwoodDr Phillip LeeStephen McPartlandStephen Metcalfe, and Dr Dan Poulter. All were on CaSE’s list of MPs with a background or interest in science and engineering.

The Chair of the Committee is a really important role, with the most power over what issues the Committee looks at and what it says. And because the S&T Committee is able to look at the work of any Government department (most are just assigned to one department), the Committee and its Chair have the ability to scrutinise all Government policy and can be a loud voice for change if something isn’t working well. The previous Committee published a Legacy Report, which offers some clues as to what issues the new one might choose to look at first.

All MPs vote for the Chairs in a secret ballot so candidates will now be campaigning to get as many votes from the 650 MPs in Parliament as possible. If you have views on which candidate should be elected you can contact your local MP and ask them to vote for him or her. The results are due towards the end of June (they were expected on the 16th but there has been some delay).

MPs from all parties will then be able to put their names forward to sit on the Committees, with the number of places available to each party also based on the proportions of MPs each party has. But unlike for the Chairs, Committee Members are elected by a ballot of MPs from their own party only.

Conservatives (14): Culture, Media and Sport; Defence; Education; Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; Foreign Affairs; Health; Justice; Northern Ireland Affairs; Procedure; Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs; Science and Technology; Treasury; Welsh Affairs
Women and Equalities.

Labour (10): Business, Innovation and Skills; Communities and Local Government; Environmental Audit; Home Affairs; International Development; Petitions; Public Accounts; Standards; Transport; Work and Pensions

SNP (2): Energy and Climate Change; Scotland