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by Tom Freeman
26 June 2015
SNP 'could undermine credibility of Energy committee' says former Labour MP

SNP 'could undermine credibility of Energy committee' says former Labour MP

The Energy and Climate Change select committee at Westminster is at risk of losing its credibility under new SNP chair Angus MacNeil, according to former shadow energy minister Tom Greatrex.

Greatrex, who lost his Rutherglen and Hamilton West seat at the General Election to the SNP, uses a column in Utility Week to question whether McNeil is “up to the job” compared to the committee’s previous chair Tim Yeo.

“A respected and knowledgeable committee chair can make a real difference to how policy is developed, implemented and adjusted – as the last parliament showed. Having asked just two written questions of DECC (the Department of Energy and Climate Change) in the past five years, MacNeill’s focus has self-evidently been elsewhere,” he says.

The SNP won the right to chair two select committees after winning 56 seats at the General election, and Greatrex concedes combining the Scottish Affairs Committee with Energy “makes a lot of sense” given the importance of the issue in Scotland.

The party put forward just one candidate for each committee meaning the roles were won without contest, so Greatrex says MacNeil hasn’t shown his credentials for the post in a candidate’s statement.

“He needs to demonstrate early a resistance to pursuing party interests first, and that the committee will focus on evidence. With some of the expertise likely to be present among other members, that should be possible. Without it, the credibility of an important source of analysis could be undermined precisely when the wider energy debate needs authoritative scrutiny of government policy,” writes Greatrex.

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