New committee chairs

The LGA will be continuing its engagement work with new select committee chairs to ensure local government priorities are heard and represented in Parliament.

The new chairs of 27 influential Commons’ committees – including 20 departmental select committees – have been announced.

Among the committees relevant to local government, LGA Vice-President Clive Betts MP (Lab, Sheffield South East) was returned as the Chair of the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee and pledged evidence-based scrutiny of housing, local government and social care.

Jeremy Hunt MP (Con, South West Surrey), the former Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, will chair the Health and Social Care Committee. He vowed to “fix social care”.

Meg Hillier MP (Lab, Hackney South and Shoreditch) returns as Public Accounts Committee Chair, promising to scrutinise education funding, including special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

Most committee chairs are elected by the whole House. If there is more than one candidate, the election is by a single secret ballot, using the alternative vote system. MPs rank the candidates, and the votes of those with the lowest number of first preferences are successively redistributed until one candidate has more than half the votes. If there is only one candidate, he or she is automatically elected.

Nominations for committee chairs must be made by 15 MPs elected for the party to which the chair is allocated, or 10 per cent of such MPs, whichever is the lower. Up to five MPs from other parties may also back a nomination.

Much of the work of the House of Commons and the House of Lords takes place in these committees, which examine issues in detail, from government policy to proposed new laws.

When a select committee report is published, the Government publishes a response to it, either agreeing to take forward some of the recommendations, or rejecting them. Either way, it offers the opportunity for Parliament to influence government policy.

This is why the process of submitting written and oral evidence remains a key part of the LGA’s parliamentary engagement. According to House of Commons’ research, the LGA is the top written evidence provider to select committees in the country.

As committees start launching new enquiries, we will once again be engaging with them on a range of important issues, making sure the priorities of local government are heard and represented in Parliament.

Cabinet reshuffle

The resignation of Sajid Javid MP as Chancellor was the biggest shock in the long-awaited post-Brexit cabinet reshuffle last month.

Mr Javid was replaced by former Local Government Minister Rishi Sunak MP, who was promoted from the role of Chief Secretary to the Treasury.

Robert Jenrick MP remained in place as Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government. In his team, Christopher Pincher replaced Esther McVey as Housing Minister, Simon Clarke replaced Jake Berry as devolution lead, and Luke Hall returned as Local Government Minister.

There was speculation ahead of the reshuffle that the Department for Culture, Media and Sport could be scrapped, or the Home Office and Ministry of Justice would be combined.

This did not arise, and overall, the machinery of government stayed near enough the same, apart from the closure of the Department for Exiting the European Union at the end of January.

As first was going to press, the reshuffle was still ongoing, with further ministerial appointments expected, along with the publication of responsibilities and portfolio areas for some ministerial teams.

We are monitoring this closely as we look towards our future political engagement.

The LGA’s chairman and board chairs have written to all the key appointees to set out councils’ priorities.

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