Fierce leader for spending watchdog

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The Independent Online
A former Tory minister with a reputation as a parliamentary rottweiler is expected to be chosen next week as the chairman of the powerful Public Accounts Committee, the Commons public expenditure watchdog.

David Davis, 48, the former foreign office minister responsible for Europe, was among the names listed for the PAC on the Commons order paper yesterday, and close colleagues said he was expected to be chosen at the first meeting as the new chairman.

The PAC chairmanship traditionally goes to a member of the Opposition, and under the Labour MP Robert Sheldon it carried out a wide range of financial investigations into government spending, including fraud in a Welsh quango, and the waste of taxpayer's money on National Health Service computer systems.

Mr Davis was regarded as one of the most aggressive ministers in John Major's team, and could sink his teeth into the Government's flanks. "If Davis is chosen, I wouldn't like to be in the ministers' shoes," said one Labour MP.

Mr Davis, an ex-grammar school boy who also studied at the London and Harvard business schools, was elected in 1987 as the MP for Boothferry and served as parliamentary aide to Francis Maude, then a Treasury minister, before becoming a whip.