Labour chairs key select committees

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Indy Politics
Margaret Hodge, the former leader of Islington borough council, was yesterday endorsed by the Labour Party to head the Commons select committee on education as Labour prepared to reinforce its domination in the Commons by taking the chair in all the key select committees.

Ms Hodge, Blairite Labour MP for Barking, will chair the committee in tandem with Derek Foster, MP for Bishop Auckland. Mr Foster, a former Labour chief whip, became the first minister to resign from the Blair government, when he stood down within days of his appointment to a junior post in the Office of Public Service after expectations that he would be in the Cabinet.

Chris Mullin (Sunderland South), the civil rights and justice campaigner, was endorsed at a meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party for the chair of the Select Committee on Home Affairs, as tipped in The Independent on Tuesday.

Mr Mullin, who also campaigned for the release of those jailed in the Carl Bridgewater murder case and helped to secure the release of the Birmingham Six and the Guildford Four, is likely to give the Home Secretary, Jack Straw, a testing time.

The committees are expected to meet next week to confirm the appointment of their chairs. The Liberal Democrats, who increased their seats, for the first time are being given the chairmanship of the social security select committee under Archy Kirkwood (Roxburgh and Berwickshire). The Tories have been allotted five out of sixteen committees: agriculture, international development (overseas aid), and science and technology, but there was a row over the Tories chairing the Northern Ireland Committee with Andrew Hunter (Basingstoke) tipped to get it today. Peter Brooke, the former secretary of state for Northern Ireland, was favourite among Tory MPs as chairman of the public accounts committee.

With Scottish and Welsh devolution causing controversy, the chairmanship of the select committees on Scotland and Wales will go to two loyal Government supporters, David Marshall (Glasgow Shettleston) and Martyn Jones (Clwyd South).