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Samantha Ramen

Samantha Ramen

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Who are the new Select Committee chairs?

Client Alerts31/01/2020

We’ve previously written about the importance of the various House of Commons select committees in influencing legislation of interest to the insurance industry.

Those committees have now all elected their chairs, who will have a vital say on the direction of the committees over the course of this Parliament.

So who are these figures, and what do their political histories tell us about the direction they may wish to take the committee they now chair? Below we take a closer look.

Name: Sir Robert Neill MP

Party: Conservative

Position: Chair of the Justice Committee

Returning to his position as Chair of the Justice Committee is Robert Neill MP, who has been a near-constant figure on the committee since 2007.

Given Sir Robert’s re-election, it is likely that the Justice Committee will continue the inquiry programme and general political direction that it was pursuing before the 2019 General Election.

For insurers, the re-election means that the committee will continue to mirror the policy initiatives of the Government. This follows on from the last Parliament where the committee looked at the discount rate (concluding that more evidence was required on actual investment behaviours), an increase to the small claims track limit (where it called for a delay until 2020) and LASPO (where it questioned former Secretary of State David Gauke on the post-implementation review of the act).

However, the last Parliament didn’t see a huge amount of proactive work done by the committee on civil justice reform, and therefore the Chair of the committee (and the rest of the membership when elected) will be prime engagement targets for insurers on matters not yet covered.

Name: Huw Merriman MP

Party: Conservative

Position: Chair of the Transport Select Committee

A new Chair of the Transport Committee who defeated three rivals for the job, Huw Merriman has been an MP since 2015, prior to which he was a member of Wealden District Council and Chair of Wealden Conservative Association. He was a consistent presence on the Transport Committee throughout the last Parliament, and also has brief experience as a Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Mr Merriman has stated that the main motivation behind his standing for Chair was to deliver value in the transport sector, and has also said that he will hold inquiries on long-term transport projects, and the delivery of rail and bus routes.

For the insurance industry, it will be a priority to see if Mr Merriman intends to continue the dual inquiries on road safety and young driver safety that the Transport Committee launched before the 2019 General Election. If these two are revisited in this Parliament, they will present a prime opportunity for the industry to give evidence (both written and face to face) on the topic, and set the direction of travel for any future policy.

With the Driver 2020 research set to be reporting this year, the committee’s scrutiny and thoughts on the matter could come at a vital time.

Name: Rt Hon Mel Stride MP

Party: Conservative

Position: Chair of the Treasury Select Committee

The Treasury Committee has an enormously wide remit, covering all aspects of fiscal policy, including regulation of the insurance industry.

The Chair of the committee (who was elected unopposed) has had a lot of preparation for the job. Mel Stride, the Conservative MP who’s represented Central Devon since 2010, was a Treasury Minister between May 2015 and July 2016, serving as Financial Secretary to the Treasury and Paymaster General.

The role covered portfolios ranging from the UK tax system to infrastructure spending, and Mr Stride’s time there will have given him an excellent view on the inner-workings of HM Treasury. He was also Chair of the Treasury Select Committee in 2019 (albeit only for a matter of weeks before the General Election was called). On being elected Chair for the first time around last year, Mr Stride said that his priorities would be Brexit and the Budget – priorities that are unlikely to change following his second election this week.

Keoghs has engaged with all of the above Select Committee Chairs to welcome them into their new roles and request a meeting to discuss areas of mutual interest. If you would like any further information and/or would like to get involved in our parliamentary engagement programme, please contact Samantha Ramen (sramen@keoghs.co.uk).

Next week: with all the discussion around whiplash, what’s the latest on the EL/PL small claims track limit extension…?