COMMONS

Chair nominations for the Foreign Affairs Committee

The nominations for Select Committee Chairs ran from 4-10 June and the ballot will be on Wednesday 17 June from 10am to 5pm. On this page you can find the full list of nominees for the Foreign Affairs Committee, the Committee Chair will be a member of the Conservative Party.

Nominated by (own party) 

Mr Richard Bacon, Sir William Cash, Rehman Chishti, Mark Field, Sir Edward Garnier, Sir Gerald Howarth, Mr Stewart Jackson, Mr Bernard Jenkin, Dr Phillip Lee, Dr Julian Lewis, Johnny Mercer, Anne Marie Morris, Mrs Sheryll Murray, Stephen Metcalfe, Mr Andrew Tyrie

Nominated by (other parties)

Mark Durkan, Frank Field, Kate Hoey, Sir Gerald Kaufman, Greg Mulholland

Statement

Having served on the Foreign Affairs Select Committee (FAC) for five years, I believe I would be well-suited to the role of Chair for the following reasons:

Independence

Having resigned as a Shadow Minister in 2003 in order to vote against the Iraq War, opposed the morphing of the Afghan mission post-2006 into one of nation-building, voted against intervention in Libya, and helped lead opposition to our proposed Syrian intervention in 2013, I have been prepared to take an independent stance on foreign affairs.

As such, I would strongly uphold the Committee’s reputation for objective and robust scrutiny of the work of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). 

Impartiality           

If elected, I would work in a collegiate manner to ensure all Members’ voices are heard, regardless of political hue. The current Parliament contains a wide body of differing opinions on Britain’s role in the world and how best to approach global challenges. My strong intention would be for the FAC to reflect and encourage this at every level.

Experience            

During my 14 years in Parliament, I have taken a strong interest in foreign affairs in part as a consequence of my former career as a soldier – during which I served on several operational tours, including with the UN in Cyprus.

Expertise                

In addition to my FAC work, I have also consistently raised foreign policy issues in Parliament, either by way of Urgent Questions or by securing and sponsoring back bench debates – my debate in 2013 compelled the Government to confirm it would require Parliament’s express consent before lethal support was provided to the Syrian rebels.

Because of this and other foreign affairs work, I was awarded the BBC’s ‘Parliamentarian of the Year’ for 2013/14. I have also spoken at conferences on international affairs, founded and chaired the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for an EU Referendum, and contributed extensively in the media. 

Future Programme

Looking forward, whilst continuing to address the issues of the day, I would encourage the FAC to be proactive in exploring important themes which do not always feature in debate – the increasing importance of soft power and resource scarcity as a driver of foreign policy being two such examples. I would welcome other suggestions.

I would also encourage the FAC to further examine the case for greater investment in our foreign policy-making process. Sustained budget cuts under successive Governments have led to a reduction of skills, knowledge and capacity at the FCO, which have conspired to create a deficit of strategic analysis within policymaking circles – as illustrated by our recent decisions to intervene militarily.

As a former soldier, I believe strong Armed Forces can be a valuable component of our foreign policy – the successful operations in the Balkans, Sierra Leone and the early stages of Afghanistan are good examples of this. However, we must invest in the FCO to avoid repeating past errors and ensure we assess correctly when and how to employ the military instrument – such investment now could save unnecessary conflict and cost later.

Nominated by (own party) 

Edward Argar, Mr David Davis, Nusrat Ghani, Mr Dominic Grieve, Damian Green, Nick Herbert, Boris Johnson, Mr David Jones, Tim Loughton, Mr Andrew Mitchell, Paul Scully, Mr Keith Simpson, Sir Nicholas Soames, Mrs Caroline Spelman, Mr Gary Streeter

Nominated by (other parties)

Margaret Beckett, Dr Roberta Blackman-Woods, Richard Burden, Danny Kinahan, Stewart Malcolm McDonald

Relevant interests declared

Director (unremunerated) of the Board of Council for Advancement of Arab British Understanding. (Appointed January 2014). I will resign from this position if elected.
Consultant to Kamal Exchange Company of Amman, Jordan (registered 11 February 2015). I will resign from this arrangement if elected.

Overseas visits

Helsinki (17-19 March 2015) 3rd Helsinki Policy Forum conference to assess challenges in the Middle East and North Africa. Hosted by Foreign Ministry of Finland.
Jordan (6-9 February 2015) in connection with registered consultancy
Istanbul (18-20 December 2014) conference on conflict resolution funded by Forward Thinking (registered 13 January 2015)
Jordan (26 November-2 December 2014) visit of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Jordan (registered 22 December 2014)
Madrid (21-23 October 2014) 2nd Helsinki Policy Forum Conference addressing instability in the Middle East and North Africa. Hosted by Casa Arabe in cooperation with the Foreign Ministry of Spain
Kenya/Cameroon (1-9 October 2014) Bilateral visit and Parliamentary Conference under the auspices of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association

Statement

Approach as Chair
Committees are at their most effective when they work as a team. Whilst Chairs now have their own mandate, in a Parliament with a small majority the importance of a collective Committee view is reinforced. A chair who can speak with proven independence of mind, but supported by their whole Committee, can play a strong hand for the House of Commons. 

I have exercised independent judgement when the issue merits it. Whilst enough of a team player to serve as a whip for five years, I have been prepared to stand out against the consensus in Parliament and/or my party; notably over the air campaign on Kosovo in 1999, the cost of the future deterrent to a reducing defence budget earlier this year, and Syria in 2013.  I have aimed to balance the demands placed on us as team members and exercising judgement as an individual parliamentarian. I possess the right balance of experience, parliamentary and professional, and have the right personal qualities to lead an effective Committee.

Foreign Affairs Committee programme
Foreign affairs, despite their low media profile in the recent election, will be defining issues for this Parliament.

We face a profound choice over the EU. No committee fairly representing the views of the House will agree on the decision. The FAC should be able to agree an analysis of the costs and benefits arising from a decision to stay or leave. I want it to draw the evidence together to inform the Parliamentary and national debate running into the referendum.

Other topics that should be of early interest to the Committee are Libya, Russia, Islamic state, and Political Islam.  Libya requires both a lessons learned examination and a forward look at policy; the whole relationship with Russia needs profound review, as in turn will the UK’s relationship with China; oversight of policy towards Islamic state is also urgent and a wider review of our policy response to the emergence and suppression of Political Islam also deserves independent scrutiny.  Later in the Parliament Britain’s role in the Middle East Peace Process will also deserve attention.  The programme of work will of course be for the Committee as a whole to decide, but in collaboration with other Committees, should also interrogate the Strategic Defence and Security Review.

Personal Background

  • Army Officer, 1979-1990 (served in England, Cyprus and Germany; commanded an armoured reconnaissance squadron)
  • Politics BA, University of Durham, 1981-84
  • MBA, Cranfield University, 1990-91
  • Special Adviser to Malcolm Rifkind as Defence and Foreign Secretary, 1993-97
  • MP for Reigate from 1997
  • Served five substantive spells on select committees
  • Travelled extensively in Army and since as part of or leading delegations in roles from Minister, Shadow Minister, Special Adviser, Select Committee member, APPG Chair and member, Party interest group and individually, recently focussing on democracy and human rights
  • Regional specialist in middle eastern issues
  • Chair, APPG for Jordan
  • Co-chair, Council for Arab-British Understanding, 2005-09
  • Chair, Conservative Middle East Council, 2003-08
  • Officer, Conservative Parliamentary Friends of India

  • Biography: Crispin Blunt

Nominated by (own party) 

Mr Peter Lilley, Dr Poulter, Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, Mr David Burrowes, David Mowat, Robert Jenrick, Heather Wheeler, Mark Pawsey, Mr Nick Hurd, Neil Carmichael, Richard Benyon, Steve Double, Mrs Maria Miller, Mr Charles Walker, Chris Heaton-Harris

Nominated by (other parties)

Valerie Vaz, Mr Iain Wright, John Spellar, Kate Green, Mr Kevan Jones
Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Indonesia

Relevant interests declared 

Director of the Great Britain China Centre, non-departmental Government body
Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary China Group
Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Indonesia Group
Vice-Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group for the Commonwealth
[If elected I would resign from all of these posts]

Statement

The FAC has a vital role at such a fragile time for the world's peace and our security, and on decisions made by the government - and how it is held to account - may depend many lives.

I aspire to be Chair of this Select Committee : and all of my thirty five year working life experience is relevant to this job.

I am the only candidate who has:

  • Been a diplomat (as First Secretary, Consul and Trade Commissioner)
  • Been responsible for aid projects (in Kenya)
  • Been part of William Hague's team in the FCO (as PPS to the Minister for the Commonwealth for 4 years)
  • Been director of a non-departmental FCO cultural body (the Great Britain China Centre)
  • Been one of the PM's cross party Trade Envoys (for Indonesia)
  • Lived and worked in 8 countries and speaks 8 languages

And my wife and I together were instrumental in the creation of a charity that introduced foster care to China, and has since enabled the fostering of over 300,000 children.

Any FAC needs to focus on what the Foreign & Commonwealth Office is doing for the security and the prosperity of the nation as well as helping Britons in distress abroad. Current government policy objectives in the Middle East, the Ukraine and along the western Russian border in general, as well as the strategic pros and cons of our membership of the European Union, are key issues.

How do we achieve a ‘UN led political transition’ in Syria, or ‘degrade and ultimately defeat ISIL’ beyond purely a military solution? What would a ‘significant change’ in our relationship with the EU look like?

These need to be explored. At the same time I believe we would not ignore other parts of the global diplomatic architecture – including the UN, the Commonwealth and other multilateral organisations of which we’re a member - and whether they function effectively.

Different members and parties in the Committee will also have legitimate interests in different issues affected by the work of the FCO - from human rights to climate change - and I will try my best to ensure these are given their fair share of committee time and resources.

There is a real opportunity for the FAC to be more active and visible in the media and public debates on the direction and implementation of policy, as well as both media and social media.

The fact that I resigned as a PPS in the last government shows my independence. Earlier experience as a civil servant, of being a Chair of a Council Overview & Scrutiny Committee and a record of focusing on practical recommendations, would encourage the incisive scrutiny that the FAC Committee should bring.

Nominated by (own party)

Mark Menzies, Bill Wiggin, Robert Neill, David T.C. Davies, Dr Liam Fox, Iain Stewart, Bob Stewart, Fiona Bruce, Andrew Stephenson, Jason McCartney, Alec Shelbrooke, Royston Smith, Mr Owen Paterson, Wendy Morton, Mr Jonathan Djanogly

Nominated by (other parties)

Mr Mark Williams, Mr Barry Sheerman

Statement

I am standing for Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee (FAC) in this Parliament because I believe that the next five years of foreign policy might be Britain’s most significant for a generation. It is imperative that the Government’s every step must be scrutinised and challenged as it takes on these issues.

The majority of my 10 year Parliamentary career has been spent observing and engaging in foreign affairs matters. I have chaired the All Party Parliamentary Groups for Libya, Saudi Arabia and Poland, and in the last parliament was appointed the Prime Minister’s Envoy to the Central & Eastern European Diaspora in the UK. I also previously sat on the International Development Select Committee.

I have also spent a considerable amount of time building relationships and encouraging further co-operation with Central & Eastern Europe and the Arab world and have led several delegations of MPs to Riyadh.

Relevant Experience

  • Prime Minister’s Envoy to Central & Eastern European Diaspora in the UK
  • Chairman APPG Poland
  • Chairman APPG Saudi Arabia
  • Chairman APPG Libya
  • International Development Committee - 2008-10
  • Authored Seeking Gaddafi - 2010

Role of the Chair
The primary responsibility of the Chair and the Committee must be to hold the Government to account and ensure that they are acting in the best interests of the British People. I have always approached foreign policy from a bipartisan, practical and consensual perspective and would continue to do so as Chairman of the FAC.

Tasks of the Committee
The Government is seeking renegotiation of our relationship with the European Union ahead of a referendum in 2017. It is vital that the Committee scrutinise line by line whatever new arrangement the Government may secure to make sure that the arguments presented to the British people are transparent, coherent and honest. Similarly, the Government has heavy responsibilities to get right their work addressing international security concerns such as that of ISIL, the growing refugee crisis in southern Europe and nuclear proliferation.

I strongly believe that the British Government has a responsibility to act on behalf of citizens the world over. It is not enough for Britain to act purely out of self-interest and we must engage with other world leaders and organisations, with whose co-operation is vital in addressing these issues. The Government must continue to work with our UN and NATO partners but also address our fragile relationships with the Arab world and Russia and it is imperative that the Committee continue to press the Government on its handling of these tasks. Similarly, it is important that the Committee continue to press the Government on its commitments to human rights across the world, continuing progress to a two-state solution with Israel and Palestine, and securing meaningful peace in Libya.

Nominated by (own party) 

Chloe Smith, Nicola Blackwood, John Howell, Tom Tugendhat, Mrs Anne-Marie Trevelyan, Suella Fernandes, Mr Nigel Evans, Andrew Bingham, Craig Tracey, Craig Williams, Dr Sarah Wollaston, Sir Edward Leigh, Kwasi Kwarteng, Chris White, Jake Berry

Nominated by (other parties)

Mr Adrian Bailey, Barry Gardiner, Huw Irranca-Davies, John Healey, Kate Osamor

Relevant interests declared

Clients of own business (Zahawi and Zahawi)
IPBD Limited, Dubai, UAE
Afren plc, Texas, USA
Kurdistan Regional Government donated £6,127,78 for air travel for visit to Kurdistan, 21-23 January

Statement

There are two things I would seek to bring to this role: an entrepreneur’s understanding of the relationship between trade and foreign policy, and a strong commitment to Britain’s international responsibilities, impressed on me as the child of Kurdish parents.

Before entering Parliament I founded and ran the market research company YouGov. The experience of taking my own company into overseas markets and acquiring businesses in Europe, the US and the Middle East has led to a deep appreciation of the challenges faced by British firms looking to export or set up abroad. As Chair, one of my top priorities would be to hold the Government to account for their performance in delivering for these firms, in Europe and across the world.

Over the next two years our relationship with the EU will be the primary focus of UK foreign policy. The Committee will play a key role in scrutinising the Government’s renegotiation strategy, and I am keen to bring my own knowledge of the single market to bear on this question.

I also have a longstanding interest in humanitarian issues and sit on the advisory board of the International Rescue Committee. As Chair I would ensure that the Government’s record on promoting human rights around the world formed as much a part of the Committee’s work as the European question, or the FCO’s renewed focus on trade.

Equally, I would ensure that the Committee remained focused on other regions of strategic importance to Britain. I am the first British MP of Kurdish origin and I retain close ties to my country of birth, including co-chairing the APPG on the Kurdistan Region of Iraq and the APPG on Iraq. I was in Baghdad after Saddam fell and I’ve visited the Kurdish front line of the war against ISIL several times. This has given me a strong insight into a region which will continue to dominate the FCO’s workload in this Parliament.

I’m used to working with colleagues on all sides of the House, whether as a Committee member, or on specific issues like contaminated blood or student visas. The latter is a good example of an instance where I’ve opposed the Government position because I didn’t think it was in the UK’s best interests.

I’m independent-minded, and as a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee I’ve challenged the Government on issues ranging from UK relations with Hong Kong, to the FCO’s budget, to the resourcing of our diplomatic presence in Iraq. In business and politics I’ve always believed in allowing the evidence to guide my views, and I would take the same approach as Committee Chair.

I believe I have the skills, the experience and breadth of knowledge to provide independent and effective scrutiny of the Government’s foreign policy.