COMMONS

Chair nominations for Northern Ireland Affairs Committee

Nominations close for Chair elections

Two nominations have been received for the position of Chair of the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee. The Chair will be elected from the Conservative party.

A full list of candidates is published below with accompanying statements.

As set out by the Speaker, the election will be held in Committee Room 8 from 10am to 4pm on Wednesday 12 July. The results are expected to be announced by the Speaker, the Rt Hon John Bercow, as soon as possible after the ballots close.

The candidates are:

Nominated by (own party)

Mr Laurence Robertson, Mr Owen Paterson, Mr Jacob Rees-Mogg, Mr Shailesh Vara, Peter Aldous, Bill Wiggin, James Morris, Kevin Foster, Iain Stewart, Alec Shelbrooke, Jack Lopresti, Tom Pursglove, Bob Stewart, Andrew Percy, Mrs Pauline Latham 

Nominated by (other parties)

Mr Stephen Hepburn, Conor McGinn, Kate Hoey, Ian Paisley, Meg Hillier

Relevant interests

None

Nominated by (own party)

Sir Desmond Swayne, Simon Hoare, Robert Courts, Crispin Blunt, Mr Nigel Evans, Anna Soubry, Charlie Elphicke, Stephen McPartland, Mike Wood, Leo Docherty, Ms Nadine Dorries, Gareth Johnson, Sir Oliver Letwin, John Howell, Suella Fernandes

Nominated by (other parties)

Stephen Pound, Lady Hermon

Statement

In seeking your support as Chair of the Northern Ireland Affairs Select Committee I can offer the following recent relevant experience:

Northern Ireland Office Minister 2014-15

Gained an insider’s detailed understanding of the workings of the Department of State this select committee is tasked with scrutinising and of the institutions and personalities interfacing with it.

Defence Minister (Minister for International Security Strategy) 2012-14

Member of the Joint Select Committee on National Security Strategy 2015-17

The consequentials of the unexpected outcomes of the EU referendum and the general election have put Northern Ireland in the political spotlight generating opportunities for the select committee to enhance further its reputation for helpful and effective scrutiny.

The most pressing task involving the Northern Ireland Office is the restoration of a functioning executive at Stormont and the avoidance of a return to direct rule. We all hope that by the time select committees are reconstituted in the autumn this will have been achieved but the committee must be prepared to examine the process.

Ensuring that what will become our land border with the EU continues to operate smoothly is one of the key challenges in the Brexit negotiations. I anticipate that Brexit’s Irish dimension will play a major part in the committeee’s proceedings over the next two years after an excellent start with its report on the subject in the last session. 

I hope the committee will continue to take an interest in the scourge of border related criminality that continues to underwrite sectarian violence. Getting Brexit right for both Northern Ireland and the Republic means delivering for business, and particularly for agriculture, a seamless operating environment and allowing people to move about freely as now. But it also means doing nothing that will advantage the criminals, smugglers and racketeers that already exploit differences between the two jurisdictions.     

It is important that the implemention of the financial settlement that formed part of the recent deal with the DUP and the earlier allocation to Northern Ireland determined during the Stormont House talks, in which I was involved,  is monitored to ensure that the outcomes anticipated from the expenditure, for example in shared and integrated education, are achieved.

The Queen’s Speech included a commitment to roll out the military covenant across the UK which, of course, means in Northern Ireland despite the strictures of the Good Friday Agreement. In opposition and in government I was heavily involved with the evolution of the concept and wrote what remains the standard text on the military covenant. The mainstream parties back the covenant and it is right that it should apply equally in Northern Ireland despite the challenges presented by the GFA. I very much hope the select committee would choose to examine its implementation in Northern Ireland.

Thank you for your consideration. Please give me a call if you would like to discuss. 

Relevant interests

I am a Medical Officer in the Royal Navy Reserve and have written a book on the military covenant.

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