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By Baroness Smith of Llanfaes
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I know that select committee work can show Parliament at its very best, which is why I'm running to chair the Home Affairs Select Committee

[Photo credit: Alamy]

3 min read

One of the joys of politics is that you never know what is around the corner. A new opportunity can arise out of the blue.

Two weeks ago I had no idea I would be running a campaign to chair the Home Affairs Select Committee (HASC) by the end of that week following the Labour reshuffle. 

Yvette Cooper did an excellent job in the role over the last few years, working collegiately with all Committee members. She will be a hard act to follow for whoever is successful in the election on 15th December. 

Here is my pitch for the post! 

I think I have the experience, the commitment and the temperament needed to ensure that HASC does its work diligently, effectively and consensually.

I have been an MP for more than 16 years and, before entering Parliament, I worked as a lawyer. I have served as a shadow Home Office minister for five years, as a government whip and as an education minister in the last Labour government. I am already a HASC Member, along with the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC).  In 2018, I was appointed as one of Parliament’s two representatives on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.  

The issues with which we deal on HASC are especially important to many of our constituents. I hope that the committee will have the opportunity to scrutinise policy, and its implementation, in the following areas over the course of this Parliament:

  • Post-Brexit immigration 
  • Violence against women and girls
  • Frontline policing
  • Anti-social behaviour
  • Online harms
  • Drugs policy
  • Modern slavery and exploitation

Working cross-party is not just my promise – it is my record

In the last Parliament, I served on the Health and Social Care Select Committee. Through this experience, plus my current membership of HASC and of the ISC, I know that select committee work can show Parliament at its very best. By scrutinising the work of government, by delving more deeply into subjects than is possible in other forums, by creating a body of expertise in a particular subject, and by developing long-lasting solutions to complex or technical problems, select committees provide an invaluable service to the rest of the House – and to policy-makers across the political spectrum. I would hope to build consensus, enable every Member to contribute, and to keep the committee to time – all important skills!

Working cross-party is not just my promise – it is my record. It was because I worked cross-party that I secured the Public Inquiry in 2017 into the NHS Infected Blood scandal. I am currently working with MPs from other parties on campaigns to end commercial sexual exploitation and to champion a Community Wealth Fund for left behind neighbourhoods. 

In addition to support from Labour MPs, I am pleased to have the support of the Father of the House and several Conservative members of HASC.

In conclusion, I believe that my background, experience and proven abilities equip me to be an effective, collegiate and fair chair of HASC. 

Dame Diana Johnson is Labour MP for Kingston upon Hull North

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