SNP duo to chair select Commons committees

SNP are set to follow an unprecedented Holyrood victory with another unprecedented Holyrood victory. Picture: Jon Savage
SNP are set to follow an unprecedented Holyrood victory with another unprecedented Holyrood victory. Picture: Jon Savage
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PERTH MP Pete Wishart and Western Isles MP Angus MacNeil are to become the first Scottish Nationalists to chair powerful Commons select committees.

The two men were unopposed in the nominations for the two committee allocated to the SNP with Mr Wishart taking charge of Scottish Affairs and Mr MacNeil responsible for Energy and Climate Change.

The Nationalists have never before had sufficient MPs to chair Commons committees but the historic result last month, where the SNP became the third largest party with 56 of Scotland’s 59 MPs, meant they were awarded two committees and get at least one seat on each of the others.

Chairmanship of committees brings an extra annual salary of £15,000 and positions for Tory and Labour allocated committees are being hotly contested.

Mr Wishart said: “I am delighted to go forward as the sole nominee as the Chair of the Scottish Affairs Select Committee and I am grateful to my colleagues for supporting me.

“There is a huge range of work to be done by the Committee with a Scotland Bill progressing through Parliament, English votes for English laws and a whole range of reserved legislation which directly impacts on the people of Scotland.”

He went on: “I intend to return the committee to its original purpose of scrutinising the work of the Scotland Office and looking at legislation that affects Scotland as it goes through the House of Commons.”

And in a reference to the way the committee under former Labour MP Ian Davidson was used as a platform to oppose Nationalism and was boycotted by the SNP, Mr Wishart said he hoped to usher in a new era of consensus.

He said: “I want to put the last few years of the committee behind us and chair through consensus looking to build partnerships and improve relationships.”

He also called for his party to be given a majority on the committee to reflect the number of SNP MPs elected in Scotland.

He said: “Now the chair has been determined I know that the government will be looking very closely at the membership of the committee. I believe people will expect nothing less than a majority of the members of the Scottish Affairs Committee to be Scottish members of Parliament. This has always been the case for the Scottish Affairs Committee and it is also what happens on the Welsh and Northern Irish Select Committees.”

Mr MacNeil vowed to hold the UK government to account on its green agenda.

He said: “The Committee has an important role to play in holding the Westminster Government to account, and pressing the UK’s commitments on internationally agreed renewables targets.

“I recognise that as Chair of the Energy and Climate Change Committee there will be many challenges ahead but I look forward to shaping and driving forward the work of the committee over the next five years.”