Wollaston: Labour’s mean-minded move threatens to politicise and degrade our Select Committee system

11 March 2019

The Independent Group’s Members of Parliament will today signal their opposition to an attempt by the Labour Party to remove from Select Committees MPs who taken a principled stand against our broken political parties.

Labour intends to move a motion in the House of Commons tonight (Monday 11 March) to remove Mike Gapes, Independent Group MP for Ilford South, and Ian Austin, the MP for Dudley South who resigned from Labour last month, from the Foreign Affairs Select Committee.

This follows news that Labour has sought names to replace other independent MPs from their Select Committees, including Luciana Berger, Independent Group MP for Liverpool Wavertree, who is currently on maternity leave.

The Foreign Affairs Select Committee has unanimously expressed its opposition to the move, with Conservative Committee Chair Tom Tugendhat writing to the Government and Opposition Chief Whips to set out his concerns.

The Independent Group MP for Totnes, Chair of the Health and Social Care Select Committee, and Chair of the Liaison Committee, Dr Sarah Wollaston, said:

“Select Committees are at their most effective when MPs leave tribal party politics at the door, focus on the evidence and work constructively to build consensus.

“It is extremely worrying that Labour has sought names for ‘vacancies’ on a number of Committees. The truth is that there are no vacancies – only MPs that Labour’s whips want to eject.

“Mike Gapes has served on the Foreign Affairs Committee for 19 years, including five as its Chair. He is energetic, knowledgeable and brings unparalleled experience.

“If Mike and Ian Austin are removed from their posts, this will not only diminish the Foreign Affairs Committee, but politicise and degrade the entire Select Committee system. It would be not be in the public interest and parliamentarians should reject it.”


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Stuart Macnaughtan on 07930 164 897 or [email protected]
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Notes to editors

  1. Dr Sarah Wollaston is the Independent Group MP for Totnes. She was first elected as the MP for the constituency in 2010. Prior to coming into politics, she worked for 24 years as an NHS doctor, including as a GP, as a teacher of junior doctors and medical students, and as an examiner for the Royal College of GPs. Since 2014 she has been the elected Chair of the Health and Social Care Select Committee; and, since 2017, she has been the Chair of the Liaison Committee, which is made up of all House of Commons Select Committee Chairs.
  2. Mike Gapes has been a member of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee for 19 years, having been appointed under Neil Kinnock, John Smith, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, Ed Miliband and Jeremy Corbyn. From 2005-10 he was the Committee’s Chair, during which time he led inquiries on subjects as diverse as Afghanistan; Pakistan; the implications of cuts to the BBC World Service and to foreign language capability within the FCO; relations with Turkey; the Arab Spring; human rights; extraordinary rendition; the future of the EU; relations with the United States; and more. He has also been a member for ten years of the Quadripartite Committee on Arms Export Controls.
  3. More information on The Independent Group is available at our website: https://www.theindependent.group/
  4. You can follow The Independent Group on Twitter: @TheIndGroup