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Osborne's OBR pledge proves the new power of Select Committees

By Paul Goodman

George Osborne on Politics Show Peter Hoskins has posted a brief account on the Spectator's Coffee House site about this morning's Treasury Select Committee appearance by George Osborne.  The Chancellor promised to allow the committee to approve his proposed new appointments to the Office of Budget Responsibility - thereby giving them the power to veto his suggestions if they wish.

I left the Commons largely because I believed it was changing for the worse.  So it's right to acknowledge that in some ways the place is getting better.  The cross-party election of Select Committee Chairman has been a democratic revolution.  MPs from previous Parliaments especially told me that they've found canvassing support from political opponents a liberating experience - as they line up with them as legislators to hold the Executive to account.

Osborne's announcement will have been driven by prudence as much as conviction.  He'll appreciate that the role of Select Committees is waxing, and that Ministers would be wise to co-operate with them.  Andrew Tyrie, the Treasury Committee's Chairman, has already proposed more powers for committees to send for papers and summon Ministers.  Michael Fallon, who ran against Tyrie for the post, suggested that committees should be able to veto supplementary estimates.

I expect that there'll be more to come from the new Select Committee Chairmen as a whole, who meet on the Liaison Committee.  If there isn't, you can be sure that Douglas Carswell and Dan Hannan will help keep them up to the mark.


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