The race is on to elect a new chair for the Treasury select committee after the powerful position was left vacant when influential lawmaker Andrew Tyrie announced he was leaving parliament.
Writing exclusively for City A.M., Nicky Morgan, Jacob Rees-Mogg, Stephen Hammond, John Penrose, Charlie Elphicke and Richard Bacon all make their pitch for the job.
I am standing to succeed the indefatigable Andrew Tyrie, who many City A.M. readers may know, as chair of the House of Commons Treasury Select Committee. If elected I would be the first female chair which would be a great honour.
As the UK establishes its new position outside the EU, it will be more important than ever to forge a wide consensus on Brexit and for parliament to question ministers on their decisions. The Treasury Select Committee has an important role in this process. Since June 2016 I believe I have shown I am a strong advocate for parliament being heavily involved in scrutinising the decisions being made about Brexit and would continue to champion this.
I have been a treasury Minister, having served as both economic secretary and financial secretary in 2013 and 2014. This gave me experience of working on both an Autumn Statement and a Budget as well as being EU budget minister and attending meetings of EU finance ministers.
I’ve also served as education secretary at the time of the 2015 government spending review. Before I was elected as an MP in 2010 I spent 16 years working in the City of London as a solicitor specialising in mergers and acquisitions.
This Parliament will create a new, post-Brexit Britain. We have an unparalleled opportunity to recast the kind of society and economy we want Britain to have.
The Treasury Select Committee shouldn’t only be an effective and fearless inquisitor of powerful ministers or business bosses; it needs to be a safe, cross-party space where the economic foundations of a ‘post-Brexit consensus’ can be laid and where answers can be found to fundamental questions that we haven’t debated for decades.
Questions like how we fix regional imbalances between London, the south-east and the rest of the country. How we dissolve the growing divide between asset-owning older people and the insecure, struggling generation behind them. How we bring about social justice between white and blue collar workers, how much debt it is fair to pass on to younger generations and how we improve our productivity. The answers matter because Britain’s economy has serious flaws which undermine its legitimacy. At the moment too many people under 35 feel the system is stacked against them, so it doesn’t make sense for them to work hard or save for their future like their parents did. The Treasury Select Committee should be at the heart of finding these answers, forging a consensus that will restore our economic legitimacy and stability.
After 16 years serving on the Public Accounts Committee, the last seven years as deputy chairman, I believe I have the right skills and experience to lead a good cross-party Treasury committee.
As a member of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) since 2001, I have participated in producing over 800 reports covering all areas of government income and expenditure. I have an award-winning track record of working as a committee member under Labour, coalition and Conservative governments while not being afraid to ask difficult questions. I would adopt a collegiate approach, taking account of the interests of committee members from all political parties, a way of working which I have helped to develop and implement – and have seen work well – on the PAC.
I would adopt a broader interpretation of the Treasury Select Committee’s remit (nine out of the 13 Treasury Committee reports in the last session of parliament were about appointments to other regulators). Apart from examining the Treasury, HMRC, the Bank of England and the Financial Conduct Authority, I would also expect the Treasury Committee to examine specific questions such as the outlook for interest rates, economic and financial consequences of Brexit, and a wide range of tax policy.
The Treasury Select Committee has been, and must remain, parliament and the people’s spotlight on the UK economy and economic issues.
The committee has a tradition of fearless independence which must be maintained. However, I believe the committee must be open to new ideas and I am keen to ensure the committee considers undertaking inquiries of interest submitted by any member of the House.
In the last parliament I chaired the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Wholesale Financial Markets and the APPG for Infrastructure. For 20 years prior to being elected in 2005 my career was in financial services and I qualified both as an economist and an analyst. These skills will be paramount on the new committee which will not just undertake its usual role scrutinising economic policy, but must also examine the economic aspects of Brexit.
So as the candidate with practical industry experience, with a record as a committee member and effective scrutineer, with the ability to chair proceedings and to modernise the committee while protecting what it does best, with a deep passion and interest in economic matters, I have put myself forward to be the next chairman of the Treasury Select Committee.
As chairman of the Treasury Select Committee I would want to see it continue its full range of work including regular reviews of decisions by the Treasury and the Bank of England in addition to specific inquiries. One example of an area that needs looking at is the relationship between banks and consumers. This remains unbalanced and issues of fairness around overdraft fees have still not been settled. Behaviour during the financial crisis also opens up areas of inquiry especially after the HBOS fraud and the charges against Barclays. This leads on to the role of regulators and their focus, are they putting consumers and competition as a high enough priority?
Inevitably, there will be elements of Brexit that will need investigation, economic questions as well as regulatory ones. In this area although I have strong views a chairman has a duty to put those aside to achieve consensus. I value the proper conduct of parliament, so would not seek to make the Treasury Select Committee a megaphone for my own personal position.
This is a field in which I have considerable experience.
I have worked in financial services both in the UK and Hong Kong. I would be tireless in ensuring that the committee would challenge orthodoxies and champion parliament and the people we represent.
Our economy is not working properly. Too many people find it hard to get by. Too many towns and villages in the regions lose out and suffer from deprivation and a lack of investment. And too many of our young people are priced out of a housing market that works for buy-to-letters but not first-time buyers.
This is why our economy needs to be restructured. We need an economy that works for our country and its people. We need a fair economy where corporations don’t pay less tax than the person cleaning their offices. We need a resilient economy – with a customs and tax system ready for Brexit on day one.
Theresa May pledged to create a country and an economy that works for everyone. That is undeniably a meritorious aim. I am standing for the chairmanship of the Treasury Select Committee to hold the government to account on its promise and ensure we deliver.
The Treasury Select Committee’s inquiries should be at the heart of what we must do make our economy work for everyone. Of how we build a fair and resilient economy. Of how we move forward and build the kind of Britain we need.