Stephen Hammond MP: As Treasury chair my first focus would be on the 'misunderstood' impact of no-deal Brexit
Stephen Hammond MP sets out his pitch to be Chair of the Treasury Select Committee.
The Treasury Select Committee plays a key role in the economic life of the UK and has pioneered new developments. The work of the committee has increased from scrutiny of HMT and its budgetary decisions to the likely economic impacts of all government policy and to the wider economy in general. Two of the most obvious recent powerful examples of this are the work under Andrew Tyrie on the Banking Commission and under Nicky Morgan on financial access for differing people in our country.
Historically, Select Committees were set up solely to scrutinise the work of government departments. Yet, even a decade ago membership of these committees was in the patronage of the whips. So inevitably in their early days Select Committees were limited in their scope of scrutiny and cautious in their criticism of government. Evolution over the forty years since their inception, including the widening of range of enquiries and election of members and chairs, has turned Select Committees into not only more relevant but more formidable bodies.
The new Chair will be thrown into the media spotlight straight away as the UK approaches 31 October. Prior to leaving the EU the challenge will be to produce an authoritative report on what is going to happen to the UK economy from 1st November.
The implications of a no-deal Brexit are widely mis-understood, and opinions differ wildly. It will be necessary to reach conclusions on what the consequences will be for individuals, sectors of our economy, the macro-economy and our ability to conduct ourselves in the world economic system.
This analysis will allow Parliamentarians and our citizens to make a rational judgement of the impact of no-deal. However, with little Parliamentary time available it will be important to organise not only the usual hearings but obtain some extra specialised expert opinions, hold some international video conference sessions and some joint sessions with other select committees - notably DeExEU and International Trade.
When, or perhaps if, the Government achieves its stated ambition of having secured a deal, there will be crucial but different work for the Committee.
There will be a need to scrutinise if the deal differs from any previous proposal and what the economic implications are.
The scrutiny should also be forward looking. It should consider what the imperatives are for negotiation during the transition period and what are the Government’s ambitions for our future relationship with the EU.
Whilst Brexit will be the immediate challenge for the new Chair there is much else to do this Autumn.
The Committee will also scrutinise any emergency or November Budget, assess the candidate for Governor of the Bank of England, analyse the terms of any new trade deals and how they would affect our current and capital balances. They will be new regulatory proposals affecting UK financial services and the need to meet the new Treasury team.
The current Committee has undertaken some important investigations on financial access, fairness and discrimination which any new Chair will wish to continue.
I would want to investigate some of the challenges to small businesses, which are the backbone of our economy. Issues such as the ability to compete for government contracts and the Loan Charge injustice could be immediate considerations.
The key to all of this is that the new Chair should have credibility.
Not only credibility because of their experience and background, but also due to their ability to be seen impartial by all parties in the House of Commons. I believe all the likely candidates will have these qualities. However, I hope that my academic and professional background combined with government experience will make me stand out. I have served on the Committee previously and having chaired the cross-party group on Wholesale Financial Markets I hope I am the person chosen to undertake the scrutiny of Brexit at this crucial point in our history.
Stephen Hammond is Conservative MP for Wimbledon.