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Tue, 14 July 2020

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As Covid-19 grips the country, we need a well chaired BEIS committee to scrutinise government

As Covid-19 grips the country, we need a well chaired BEIS committee to scrutinise government

I would relish the opportunity to contribute as chair of the BEIS select committee, writes Angela Eagle MP. | PA Images

2 min read

This week, we are running articles from the MPs vying to be the new chair of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Select Committee. Angela Eagle says she is "hugely experienced in relevant complex economic briefs working as a treasury minister and shadowing BEIS in Opposition."

With the country in the grip of the Covid-19 emergency, never has the need for robust and fair scrutiny of Government actions been more evident. A well chaired Departmental Select Committee is uniquely equipped to provide this. Done well such scrutiny can improve the decision-making of the Government and facilitate better outcomes for all our constituents.

The global lockdowns necessary to preserve life are having huge economic consequences.

The Government is taking unprecedented action in real time to save entire swathes of our economy from oblivion. Whilst the lockdown has caused whole sectors such as aviation and hospitality to be stricken overnight, especially vulnerable are our small and medium sized businesses. They are the lifeblood of our economy and provide the vast majority of job opportunities for our people. But they often have few savings and rely on cash flow and credit to keep themselves going. The juddering halt to economic activity is placing many of them in real peril.

Likewise many of the self employed have also seen their work suddenly drying up & contemplate a future with little security or certainty.

Whilst the government have taken innovative decisions to preserve employment and support the economy, it is becoming increasingly clear that there are significant practical barriers to achieving this laudable aim.

There is often a gap between policy intent and the practicalities of administering schemes. Furloughing staff is welcome but some of the inflexibilities around the rules are not. Access to the Governments business loan schemes have proved especially problematical as the April payroll looms. It is in revealing these gaps and engaging with stakeholders and Government that the BEIS committee can add value.

I would relish the opportunity to contribute as chair of the BEIS select committee.

I am hugely experienced in the relevant complex economic briefs in both Government and Opposition working as a treasury minister and shadowing the Beis Department in Opposition. This has given me a good feel for how Government works and what it can and can’t do.

I have maintained good contacts with the relevant stakeholders. I also love Parliament and believe passionately in the importance of Parliamentary scrutiny and accountability as a way of improving the performance of both government and the civil service. I would relish the opportunity to contribute as chair of the BEIS select committee.

 

Angela Eagle is the Labour MP for Wallasey.

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