Keith Simpson on the warpath: Frontrunner for Defence Committee job vows to ensure 'real accountability' at MoD

The Government department has been criticised for budget overruns in recent years

The frontrunner to chair the House of Commons' influential Defence Select Committee has vowed to ramp up pressure on ministers by frequently hauling them before inquiry hearings to explain their actions.

Keith Simpson, a key adviser to William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, promises in a letter to arrive on MPs' desks on Tuesday he will ensure "real accountability" by the Ministry of Defence if elected chairman later this month. He would demand regular updates on how ministers are implementing committee recommendations on everything from buying weapons to taking care of armed forces' personnel.

The MoD has been criticised for budget overruns in recent years, while austerity-driven cuts could undermine Britain's ability to make military interventions and properly equip the troops.

In an election that has gripped the Westminster bubble, Mr Simpson is one of eight Conservative MPs expected to submit their nomination papers this week, as the current chairman, James Arbuthnot, steps down ahead of retiring from Parliament next year. A cross-party vote will be held on 14 May.

"Despite Herculean efforts, they [select committees] are frequently frustrated in holding their department to account," Mr Simpson will say. "I would want to see what more we could do to have the committee's work taken seriously... with more recall of witnesses and real accountability by the MoD and defence industry."

In an odd twist, Mr Simpson is up against three former pupils from his teaching days at Sandhurst military college in Surrey. He taught rivals Tobias Ellwood, Crispin Blunt and Bob Stewart military history.

Mr Simpson insisted that he "wouldn't feel upset at all" if one of his former students beat him, but the 65-year-old added that his experience would be beneficial on such a prominent committee.

Others expected to confirm their candidacies this week are Rory Stewart, a former diplomat; the long-serving Canterbury and Whitstable MP Julian Brazier; the former shadow Defence minister Julian Lewis; and James Gray, who chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Armed Forces' Group.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Management Accountant / Analyst (CIMA finalist/newly qualified)

£32000 - £38000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Management Accountant / F...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - .NET

£27000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of a mark...

Recruitment Genius: Help Desk Specialist

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides Reliabili...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Managing Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of refrigeration, mechan...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor