Treasury Committee gets surprise champion

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The Independent Online

To the surprise of many observers, the powerful Treasury Select Committee will be chaired by Andrew Tyrie, the Tory MP for Chichester and a former special adviser to Nigel Lawson and John Major.

Mr Tyrie defeated fellow Conservative Michael Fallon, who served as deputy chair of the committee in the last Parliament. Given his experience on the committee, and previous service as a minister in the Thatcher and Major governments, he had been favourite to succeed John McFall, the Labour chair who retired from the Commons at the election. Mr Fallon had been on the committee since 1999.

Mr Tyrie defeated Mr Fallon by 352 votes to 219 after a hard-fought campaign. Select committee chairmen were elected for the first time this year. Apart from the Public Accounts Committee, the Treasury committee chairmanship is the most prized. Like the others, it carries an extra salary of £14,582.

Mr Tyrie said he was "immensely honoured". He added: "A big job lies ahead of the committee in the coming weeks and months. It has a crucial role to play in Parliament and more widely at a difficult time for the economy. I look forward to the rest of the committee being formed in the next fortnight, so that we can get to work."

With the toughest Budget in decades on 22 June, the sovereign debt crisis and still-unresolved issues about the banks, Mr Tyrie inherits his role at a crucial time.

On the role of the committees, Mr Tyrie said: "They should start to demand more of the powers American congressional committees have.

"I think this will be a transformational moment. The chamber has totally failed to hold governments to account. It's got to be the select committee corridor that does the job."

Roth's Parliamentary Profiles, a definitive guide to MPs, describes Mr Tyrie as "a minor Machiavelli".