Labour row over committee seat candidate for Treasury seat

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Indy Politics
A ROW has erupted in the Parliamentary Labour Party over who should occupy a vacant seat on the Treasury select committee.

The hotly-contested dispute over who should replace John Garrett following his promotion to the front bench spotlights the deeply reactionary attitude of some MPs to the scrutinising function of the committee and has provoked a threat from other Labour members that they will call for the argument to be resolved on the floor of the House of Commons if need be.

Brian Sedgemore and Diane Abbott, committee members since 1983 and 1989, back Angela Eagle, the MP for Wallasey, for the post on the grounds that she is young, bright and, following the controversial upshot of the recent Shadow Cabinet elections, a woman.

Sharp-tongued, able and with an Oxford degree, Ms Eagle is seen as a rising Labour star. But she has been warned by a senior PLP figure that her application is 'causing waves'. Another senior figure has declared: 'We don't want anyone who knows anything, who will kick up a fuss.'

Peter Mandelson, the MP for Hartlepool and the party's former communications director, is set to emerge as her most likely opponent. Alan Milburn, MP for Darlington, is also interested.

Mr Mandelson is being strongly promoted by John Hutton, MP for Barrow in Furness. The three are strong supporters of Gordon Brown, the shadow Chancellor.

Complaints have been made at PLP meetings that Labour members of the Treasury select committee, including Mr Garrett and Giles Radice, the fourth Labour member of the committee, fail to advance Mr Brown's policies.

Both Mr Sedgemore and Ms Abbott, a member of the hard left Campaign Group, have criticised them publicly.