I am delighted and honoured to have been elected Chair of the Defence Select Committee by my parliamentary colleagues this afternoon.
Every MP is entitled to vote for Select Committee Chairs. This ensures that candidates can work alongside parties across the House and speak on behalf of the House of Commons as a whole. I was very gratified to receive 79 per cent of the 472 votes cast from right across parliament.
The defence of our country is of paramount importance, and we face profound challenges at the present time. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the ongoing crisis in the Middle East and rising tensions in the Indo-Pacific have increased global risk. As the world becomes more dangerous, we must face up to the challenges it presents.
Locally we have thousands of resident veterans and many more with an affiliation to the armed forces. The defence industry is an important employer locally and across the UK and it is critical that the right investment keeps us safe, maintains jobs and spreads prosperity. The extraordinary men and women that make up our armed forces must have the capabilities they require to keep us safe in an ever more hazardous world and we need to ensure the Defence “Offer” retains experienced service personnel and attracts the talent of the future.
I hope to draw on my past experience to help the Committee do a good job for the House and country in scrutinising UK Defence. I have seen how effective select committees can be having been closely engaged in the DWP Select Committee’s joint investigation into the BHS Pension Schemes, which led to changes in regulation. I will also be able to draw on my Ministerial experience, especially as Minister of State in the Ministry of Defence, in working alongside an experienced and authoritative team of Committee members.