COMMONS

Chair nominations for Public Accounts 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 Public Accounts Committee, the Committee Chair will be a member of the Labour Party.


Nominated by (own party) 

Sir Gerald Kaufman, Margaret Beckett, Debbie Abrahams, Jonathan Ashworth, Kate Green, Andrew Gwynne, Mrs Sharon Hodgson, Paul Flynn, Mr Kevan Jones, Sir Alan Meale, Gordon Marsden, Keir Starmer, Paula Sherriff, Emily Thornberry, Anna Turley

Nominated by (other parties)

Mr Andrew Tyrie, Mr Jacob Rees-Mogg, Sir Edward Leigh, Damian Green, Angus Brendan MacNeill

Statement

The political debate about the right level and scope of public expenditure will continue, but there is a consensus across the House that public money should be used effectively and efficiently. The PAC does this and has a crucial role in providing a transparent, democratic accountability mechanism.

We all have stories of Whitehall waste – whether it is £10,000 desks or contracts for watering plants. But if we are to get to grips with them, we must ask “why?”

So as well as rooting out waste in individual programmes, the PAC should look more at the underlying problems and patterns. For example, large IT projects (such as at the RPA, HMRC and DWP); transparency of value for money when services are contracted out and confused accountabilities within departments have been recurrent problems. The PAC must follow the taxpayer’s pound, taking evidence from private contractors like Serco, G4S and Capita who now control billions. I am totally committed to continuing Margaret Hodge’s innovation of addressing the effectiveness of tax collection, while leaving the structural issues to colleagues on the Treasury and BIS Committees. As a country we are now spending £740bn a year. If we find 2% of efficiency improvements, that’s £13bn for extra tax cuts or public services.

I was elected in 2005 and was a member of the PAC in 2005-2007; I’ve also been on the Finance Bill Committee and taken part in numerous economic debates in the House over the past 10 years. In my professional life before I was elected, I was a Treasury civil servant from 1980 to 1996. There I worked on public spending control on several big programme. I’ve worked internationally, negotiating to stop indebted countries buying arms on credit in the OECD. This experience gives me a strong understanding of the issues.

As a Member of Parliament I’ve worked co-operatively across parties on the Procedure Committee, as Deputy Leader of the House and on various APPGs. I’ve been a Minister at the DWP – the largest spending department - and a Shadow spokesperson at Justice and DCMS.

The PAC is where the detailed scrutiny of the executive and its agencies takes place. By fulfilling its crucial role in ensuring value for money the PAC can improve Government’s long term capacity to deliver. It is important to be persistent in pursuit of the truth and ensure that Parliament’s authority is maintained. When the PAC shines a light on something it can have a very powerful effect on government. By being seen to do its work in an open and transparent manner, the PAC can help to improve trust in the political process, something which I am sure all Members of the House want.
In its last report, the PAC called for the government to have the right skills and experience. The same goes for the Committee. I am pleased to have support from across the House. I hope you will vote for me too.

Nominated by (own party)

Jonathan Reynolds, Ian C. Lucas, Christina Rees, Jim Fitzpatrick, Alan Johnson, Liz McInnes, Chris Evans, Huw Irranca-Davies, Ann Clwyd, Stephen Pound, Christian Matheson, Justin Madders, Kerry McCarthy, Ian Mearns, Margaret Greenwood

Nominated by (other parties)

Mark Pritchard, Stuart Andrew, Mark Spencer, Richard Fuller, Mr David Jones

Statement

The Public Accounts Committee is key in having oversight of value for money and  efficiency in government spending but also in ensuring that those charged with implementing projects on behalf of the taxpayer have the skills to do so in an efficient way .

Areas of work
I would wish to focus on the following areas if elected:

  • In a time of reducing public expenditure it even more important to focus on how government departments adapt to change and how they deliver in a time of challenge
  • With more government delivery being undertaken by the private sector the PAC should ensure active oversight of how the taxpayer pound is spent in that area
  • With ever more devolution planned,  not just in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, but now in English regions, and with the impending European referendum throwing the spotlight on how we spend UK taxpayers’ money in Europe  the value for money issues of those changes and how delivery is undertaken will grow in importance
  • With the likely transfer of more assets from the state to the private sector how the taxpayers gets the best deal will be critical for public confidence 
  • The Civil Service role of delivery in public service remains in  need of critical review
  • How government procurement is managed is still a key focus 
  • We need to continue to improve efficiency and effectiveness of tax collection

My Experience
I will bring to the role a high level of experience having been a minister of state for 5 years  in three departments (Justice, Northern Ireland and the Home Office), managing large budgets and projects. I’ve also been a minister in the Wales Office dealing with devolution. In addition I’ve served as a whip  and had four years at 10 downing street working closely with the Prime Minister as Parliamentary Secretary. I also have five years select committee work and have held roles in Treasury and Home Affairs in opposition. Outside of the Commons I led my local council and was director of a national charity before election. All of  that gives me a breadth of experience that I wish to offer this parliament as chair of the PAC.

How the committee will work
It’s very important that as an opposition MP leading a government majority committee that I work in a consensual way with colleagues from across the house to achieve results for the committee.
The committee needs develop its work also to

  • examine major projects at initial discussion stage 
  • use public sessions to scrutinise but crucially  to follow up on recommendations after government have agreed a course of action  
  • keep in touch with colleagues not on the committee and be open to ideas to investigate.

I very much hope for your support

Nominated by (own party) 

Gareth Thomas, Kate Osamor, Catherine West, Stephen Twigg, Siobhain McDonagh, Mrs Louise Ellman, Luciana Berger, Karin Smyth, Paul Blomfield, Mrs Emma Lewell-Buck, Mr Gavin Shuker, Thangam Debbonaire, Teresa Pearce, Mike Kane, Mr David Lammy

Nominated by (other parties) 

Pauline Latham, Dr Sarah Wollaston, Mr Charles Walker, Simon Hoare, John Pugh

Statement

I have been a member of the Public Accounts Committee for the last four years, and previously held office as a minister.

An effective, active and hard-working Public Accounts Committee is a vital part of our political process. Whatever the policy or the amount of money spent on a Government programme it must be spent as efficiently as possible. The committee needs to think like a user of the service but act like a tax payer.

  • With Europe and devolution significant issues on the Government’s agenda, a proper PAC scrutiny of the impact on place and people should run through the committee’s work for the next four years.
  • The committee should conduct pre-scrutiny of large projects (on a value for money basis) – developing the practice of pre-legislative scrutiny.
  • The committee’s work needs to be more accessible to the public. I was invited to serve on the Speaker’s Digital Democracy Commission because of my experience with Tech City and want our constituents to be able to follow issues of interest more easily.
  • We should continue pre-hearing panels – allowing those who implement Government spending to be quizzed about how effective they are.
  • We need a clear re-call when witnesses did not properly answer our queries. Accountability, whoever spends public money – private companies or Government departments – is vital. And we should also ensure transparency of public funding runs through all our work.
  • We must focus on proper accountability of local services – particularly in the NHS and education.

The Public Accounts Committee has a formidable workload so the committee cannot just be about the Chair. Other members need to play a full role. I would encourage members to lead on areas of interest to develop expertise and profile.

The committee has the opportunity to conduct hearings on many individual issues. I’d also want the committee to return to key spending areas and look at the wider performance of departments and the pathway for users - not just examining the departmental value for money but system-wide issues. Our constituents don’t always see the bureaucratic divides. I have direct experience as a carer, for example – at one time I was dealing with 13 different agencies and there are costs to these complex systems that should be examined.
 
I have seen Government both from outside and within, from Government and opposition and from local, regional and national perspectives. I have instigated, run and scrutinised large projects and believe I am well placed to continue to press Government on its management of taxpayer’s money in big projects.

As a former journalist I am also clear that clarity and transparency are key.
Fundamentally I believe in pressing for efficiency and accountability in public spending. Many of my constituents are living close to the margins. They will shop around to save their hard earned money. We have a duty to make sure that we monitor Government spending so that we are being as careful with £billions of our constituents’ money as they are with their household budgets.

Nominated by (own party)

Fiona Mactaggart, Jess Phillips, Fabian Hamilton, Sue Hayman, Angela Smith, Mr Pat McFadden, Seema Malhotra, Barry Gardiner, Melanie Onn, Angela Rayner, Richard Burden, Julie Elliott, Mr Jim Cunningham, John Healey, Jack Dromey

Nominated by (other parties)

Mr Richard Bacon, Danny Kinahan, Dr Liam Fox, Mr David Davis, Mr Bernard Jenkin

Statement

If elected I intend to continue the Committee’s important work on identifying systemic weaknesses that lead to poor decision-making and waste across Government. I will also continue to work with MPs and others to respond to issues raised by constituents. I will work to strengthen the protection of whistle-blowers and to improve the transparency of decision making and accountability.

There is a need to put increased focus on how efficiently and effectively the Government is implementing its deficit reduction programme; how sustainable the financial decisions are; and how effective Government is in implementing major change programmes to ensure they are providing value for money.

I intend to focus on

  • Greater scrutiny of independent providers and suppliers and contractors in our schools and hospitals and elsewhere, where private and third sector companies are contracted to deliver services using the taxpayers’ resources. Changes in the way education and the NHS are organised make these areas of increased priority.
  • An effective tax systems that delivers; eliminates aggressive avoidance, and establishes clear rules which are properly enforced.
  • Ensuring that responsibilities and powers handed to cities and regions are accompanied by appropriate funding streams and clear lines of accountability for the use of public money. We will have to establish that these new arrangements are providing value for money.

As the Chair I would welcome representations from colleagues across the House so that issues of concern to the House receive the Committee’s attention. I am clear in my mind, that we will be a more effective committee by responding to such requests.

To chair PAC successfully requires a breadth of skills and experience in dealing with government departments, ministers, civil servants and executive agencies. I believe I have the required skills and experience.

I served in Government as a Health Minister and negotiated on behalf of Parliament across all Whitehall departments as part of the Convention on the Future of Europe. During my 18 years in Parliament I have served on Select Committees and ad hoc Parliamentary Committees covering areas such as Pensions, Immigration, Press and Privacy, Defence and Foreign Affairs.

Following the tax payer’s pound and making sure it is not wasted will be my crusade.