New blood among scrutineers

March 27, 1998

Members of the 1997 intake of MPs will dominate the Commons committee which will scrutinise the Teaching and Higher Education Bill over the next few weeks.

The committee stage starts next Tuesday with a 22-strong committee, of whom 14 were elected for the first time last year. Of the eight who have longer Commons service five are frontbenchers. Only Labour's David Jamieson and Jamie Cann and the veteran Conservative David Madel are representatives of backbenchers elected before 1997.

Out of the 14 Labour MPs only one is likely to take a critical line. Bill Rammell, MP for Harlow and former general manager of the University of London Union, is a sceptic on tuition fees and was the first MP after the election to call for government action to prohibit top-up fees. He also abstained in the vote on benefits for single mothers.

The government side will be led by education and employment ministers Kim Howells and Steve Byers, supported by recently appointed parliamentary private secretary Tony McNulty. All three are academics, but the whip David Jamieson is, as an ex-teacher, more typical of the committee as a whole. Shadow education and employment secretary Stephen Dorrell, supported by David Willetts, will lead the six-strong Conservative group while the Liberal Democrats are represented by their front bench team of Don Foster and Phil Willis.

The committee: Christine Butler, Labour; Jamie Cann, Labour; Steve Byers, Labour, minister of state for school standards; Vernon Coaker, Labour; Valerie Davey, Labour, member of education and employment select committee; Stephen Dorrell, shadow education and employment secretary; Don Foster, Liberal Democrat, spokesman on education and employment; John Hayes, Conservative; Kim Howells, Labour, parliamentary under secretary for lifelong learning; David Jamieson, Labour, Melanie Johnson, Labour; Chris Leslie, Labour; Tony McNulty, Labour; Sir David Madel, Conservative; Bill Rammell, Labour; Jim Reed, Labour; Jacqui Smith, Labour; Caroline Spelman, Conservative, former research fellow, Wye College, member of science and technology select committee; David Willetts, Conservative, spokesman on education and employment; John Randall, Conservative, former president, University of London Student Union; Phil Willis, Liberal, spokesman on further and higher education; Anthony D Wright, Labour.

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