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Greg Clark among new House of Commons committee chairs

Image: UK Government [Open Government License v2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

New chairs appointed to different committees related to research, with Clark chairing the S&T one

The chairs of five parliamentary committees with influence over research and higher education have been elected.

Greg Clark beat off competition from fellow Conservative MP Stephen Metcalfe to become chair of the Science and Technology Select Committee, the committee announced on 29 January.

Clark was universities and science minister from 2014 to 2015 and secretary of state at the business department from 2016 to 2019.

A prominent opponent of Brexit, he was briefly thrown out of the Conservative party last year during Tory infighting over leaving Europe.

Reacting to his appointment, which came just two days before the Brexit deadline, Clark wrote on Twitter: “Thrilled and honoured to be elected chair of the Science and Technology Select Committee at a transformational time for science, technology, engineering, research and innovation—across the UK and around the world.”

His appointment was welcomed by science minister Chris Skidmore, who once worked under Clark in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). Skidmore tweeted: “many congratulations” adding “look forward to being suitably grilled by my old boss in the future!”

Elsewhere, Conservative Julian Knight was elected the new chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee. “Delighted to have been elected chair,” he tweeted, “lots of issues for the committee, once properly constituted, to tackle”.

Meanwhile, MP for Harlow Robert Halfon, who was minister for apprenticeships and skills between 17 July 2016 and 12 June 2017, was re-elected as chair of the education select committee, describing his appointment as a “true honour” on Twitter.

Conservative MP Neil Parish was also re-elected to his position as chair of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee. He said: “I look forward to working with my colleagues cross-party to scrutinise and influence government policy for the better.”

And Labour MP and economist Rachel Reeves was re-elected chair of the BEIS select committee, tweeting: “In the last parliament, we were a strong committee that worked well across party divides.”