Whips win as Willis moves in

July 29, 2005

Despite all the raging about the removal of Ian Gibson, the outspoken Labour MP, from the chair of the House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee a fortnight ago, it appears that the whips have got their way. An official announcement this week confirmed that Phil Willis, the Liberal Democrat's former education spokesman, is now in the hot seat. Neither Dr Gibson nor his Labour supporters, Brian Iddon and Des Turner, have turned their backs on the committee - as they had threatened to do when the news first broke. But Robert Key, the Shadow Science Minister, who had been tipped for the chair if Dr Gibson went, is conspicuously absent from this year's team. Yet those who assume that Evan Harris, the Lib Dem MP who has done much to woo the science vote on and off the committee, must be tremendously offended that his party did not give him the chair may be wrong. Rumour has it that Dr Harris is aiming for a return to the front bench and is, therefore, perfectly happy to avoid the limelight this time.

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