Chair nominations for Business, Innovation and Skills 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 Business, Innovation and Skills Committee, the Committee Chair will be a member of the Labour Party.

Nominated by (own party) 

Albert Owen, Mr Kevan Jones, Karl Turner, Sue Hayman, Yvonne Fovargue, Mr Jim Cunningham, Mrs Louise Ellman, Angela Smith, Jessica Morden, Nick Thomas-Symonds, Gareth Thomas, Paul Blomfield, Kevin Barron, Jess Phillips, Rob Marris

Nominated by (other parties)

Nadhim Zahawi, Robert Neill, Rebecca Harris, Mike Weir, Mr Peter Bone


I am standing for re-election to the chair of the Business Innovation and Skills Select Committee because it has a vital role in backing British business to promote the wealth creation necessary, not just to eliminate our public sector deficit but to raise our skills levels to underpin for a high wage high productivity economy capable of competing against the emerging global economic super powers.

Role of Select Committees
Select committees are increasingly recognized as having a vital role in good Government and the BIS select committee in particular as providing the evidence to help Government help business in reaching these goals.

Select committees are not just about ‘holding the Government to account’ although that is important, but probing issues, identifying problems and making recommendations to Ministers on Government policy in order to deal with them.

Select Committee recommendations must reflect the evidence provided by witnesses in order to tease out issues rather than party political point scoring. Whilst members may have and retain forthright views it is important for the chair to ensure that the recommendations reflect the balance of evidence provided. On this basis I was able to secure unanimous support for all enquiries during the last session.

Future programme
Once a new committee has been formed I would seek a cross party consensus on priority issues. Some of these will be a legacy from the last Parliament, monitoring the outcome of polices introduced during the last Government and assessing whether performance has matched previous commitments.

Britain’s low productivity and poor levels of private sector investment threaten a sustained economic recovery. Priority must be given to identifying the causes, identifying where the financial markets are failing and the impact of Government incentives on changing this. What the Government can do to encourage alternative funding.

Britain spends vast sums of education but we still have a skills gap and constant complaints from employers about the lack of work readiness. Business engagement is crucial to changing this. I was to assess the effectiveness of the current apprenticeship programme. I would seek to work with the Education Select Committee to identify what changes to our pre-16 education could reform this approach,

Business models
All parties extol the ‘John Lewis’ model of employee ownership and uphold the virtues of cooperatives and mutual organisations. I believe that it is time for an examination of the strengths and weaknesses of such models, their place in the market and if implemented what Government policy there is to support them.

Higher Education
Successful research and business collaboration must underpin any high value economy. I would undertake to monitor business/university partnership and the HE funding system needed to deliver it.

A challenge for any committee chair!
I would seek to assess the balance of views ranging from JCB to Engineering Employers Federation and small businesses measure what business wants from a reformed EU and how far renegotiation proposals and the final package meet their needs.

Nominated by (own party)

Helen Jones, Ian Lavery, Luciana Berger, Rushanara Ali, Mrs Sharon Hodgson, Diana Johnson, Barbara Keeley, Valerie Vaz, Lyn Brown, Owen Smith, Gordon Marsden, Thangam Debbonaire, Kate Hollern, Grahame Morris, Conor McGinn

Nominated by (other parties)

Crispin Blunt, Sir Alan Haselhurst, Jack Lopresti, Pauline Latham, Ms Margaret Ritchie


Focus and leadership of the committee

In my previous career in management, universities and colleges, and since coming to parliament, I have been passionate about Britain developing the education, skills and support for business that are necessary to enable us to compete effectively in a globalised world.

As Chair, I would apply my leadership, research and critical skills to enabling the committee to take a strong lead in scrutinising policies intended to promote business and skills development.

The committee needs to test whether Britain is as effective as it can be in harnessing developments in science, technology and the cultural and digital sectors to enhance our economic competitiveness, and whether we are doing enough to stay at the leading edge of developments in important areas such as the life sciences and medical technology to secure our future.

In parliament I have argued for effective industrial strategies, better promotion of trade and investment opportunities, flexible working and parental support. I have also encouraged the continuous development of our skills base through further and higher education. I would like to continue this important and necessary work, in partnership with others, through a sharply focussed Business, Innovation and Skills Select Committee.

Background and experience

I have a strong understanding of the Select Committee system and have previously been a member of the following Select Committees:

  • Education and Skills
  • Science and Technology

I have previously been a Shadow Minister in the Cabinet Office and BIS, and am currently a Shadow Minister in the Communities and Local Government team.

I have extensive experience of chairing committees and organisations, for example the All Party Parliamentary University Group and Westminster Higher Education Forum, and am currently working on a Higher Education Commission Inquiry into data and the digitalisation of higher education.

I have built strong relationships with key stakeholders, which I would utilise to good effect as Chair, including with the Federation of Small Businesses, UK Trade and Investment, the Confederation of British Industry and the British Chambers of Commerce.

Future direction

In the last parliament the committee produced important reports on the Royal Mail, adult literacy, extractive industries, consumer confidence, pubs, overseas students, intellectual property, debt management and government assistance to industry.

In order to build on this previous work, I would like to see the committee undertake inquiries into the following in the next session:

  • Infrastructure for a digital economy
  • Knowledge exchange with universities and colleges
  • Developing life sciences and medical technology
  • Apprenticeships and Further Education
  • Labour market flexibility and insecurity
  • Business support across the UK
  • Women in business
  • Rolling out the Northern Powerhouse

As I would work collaboratively, I am interested to hearing ideas from members of the committee too!

Nominated by (own party) 

Alex Cunningham, Mrs Emma Lewell-Buck, Ian Mearns, Bill Esterson, Debbie Abrahams, Chris Bryant, Anna Turley, Andy McDonald, Nick Smith, Kate Green, Ian Murray, Louise Haigh, Huw Irranca-Davies, Heidi Alexander, Robert Flello

Nominated by (other parties)

Stephen McPartland, Neil Carmichael, Richard Fuller, Mr Stewart Jackson, Sir Greg Knight

Relevant interests declared

  • Member, Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales
  • Trustee, Industry and Parliament Trust
  • Chair, Associate Parliamentary Group on Business, Finance and Accountancy


The Business, Innovation and Skills Select Committee has a powerful and wide-ranging role to champion Britain’s businesses, students and consumers, as well as scrutinising Government’s policies on businesses and skills. I am standing for election for the Chair of the Select Committee as I believe I have the background, experience and energy to drive forward this important agenda.
I have a business background: before being elected to Parliament I was a chartered accountant in both the private and public sectors. In the House I have always sought to promote business, enterprise and skills in a professional, constructive and balanced manner, whether as Minister for Apprenticeships, Shadow Industry Minister, trustee of the Industry and Parliament Trust or as chair of the parliamentary group for business, finance and accountancy.
I want the work of the committee to engage with and be informed by members from across the political spectrum of the House, I will work with colleagues of all parties to determine the Select Committee's work programme over this Parliament.  However, I think the Select Committee should prioritise work in the following areas:

  • Productivity: addressing the UK’s productivity challenge is a serious economic issue which is holding back Britain’s competitiveness and workers’ living standards. The Select Committee should prioritise evaluating whether government policies on investment, education, regulation, innovation and skills are helping productivity growth over the long term;
  • Skills: assessing whether the skills system provides people, particularly young people, with the qualities and qualifications that business need and which allow wages and living standards for all to rise;
  • Scale-up: it is vital that micro and small firms have the means to be able to grow into mid-sized and larger committee. The Select Committee should assess whether Britain has the best possible environment to allow start-up and small companies to scale-up quickly and create more economic activity and employment;
  • Employment rights: evaluating whether Government policies provide the appropriate balance between the rights of the individual worker and the interests of the business;
  • International Trade: scrutinising UKTI’s performance in tackling Britain’s trade gap and providing a comprehensive assessment of the Government’s TTIP negotiations; and
  • Consumers: ensuring Government policies adequately promote and protect consumer interests, give them sufficient choice, information and safety and ensure that goods and services provide value-for-money. 

I believe the first inquiry for the BIS Select Committee in this Parliament should be to look at the costs and benefits to business of Britain’s membership of the EU.
I also think there is great scope for select committees to run joint inquiries. Given, for example, the importance of science and education to Britain’s future business prospects, I would hope to initiate joint work with the Education and Science and Technology Committees
With the support of committee colleagues, I would be determined to scrutinise the policies and actions of the government, to work effectively in a cross-party way and to use my experience in business to challenge in a constructive way both ministers and business representatives.  I hope that you would consider supporting me.