Margaret Hodge not standing again as PAC chair

Labour MP Margaret Hodge bows out of race to chair the influential public accounts committee

By matt.foster

20 May 2015

Margaret Hodge is not standing again as chair of parliament's public accounts committee.

Hodge – the Labour MP for Barking who has chaired PAC since 2010 – announced today that she would not be putting her name forward for another five years at the helm of the committee, which holds the government to account on spending decisions.

"I’ve done the job for five years and it has been really hard work but fantastically rewarding," she said in a statement. "I’ve really loved it. However, I have given it a lot of thought and I decided before the general election that I want to try some new challenges.

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“I am hugely proud of the work we did as a committee, and a new chair will bring a fresh approach that I’m sure will see it continue to go from strength to strength.”

In an interview with CSW carried out before the election, Hodge said she would "wait and see" before making a decision on her future, but hinted at her desire to be part of a Labour government if the result went that way.

“None of us know what’s going to happen in 2015 really, if we’re honest,” she said. “So I think it’s going to be an interesting time to be part of politics here at Westminster."

Fellow Labour MP Helen Goodman – who served as a Treasury official for 16 years – has now thrown her hat into the ring to succeed Hodge, CSW can confirm. Meg Hillier, a member of the committee since 2011, is also gauging support among her fellow MPs for a run at the chairmanship, with Gisela Stuart​ also named as a possible contender.

Since 2010 a number of select committees have been chosen by a secret ballot of MPs under the alternative vote system. By convention, the PAC post always goes to a member of the opposition party.

During her tenure, Hodge made headlines for her combative style of questioning, branding executives from Google "evil" over the company's tax arrangements and, more recently, calling for the resignation of BBC Trust chair Rona Fairhead over her time at banking giant HSBC. But she was accused by some in Whitehall – as well as by fellow MPs – of grandstanding.

Addressing those criticisms in her CSW interview, Hodge acknowledged the "really, really difficult​" balance to be struck between robust scrutiny of officials and ensuring a fair hearing, saying she took "partial responsibility for being more confrontational" than she had originally intended to be.

CSW readers can put their questions to the three MPs expected to replace Hodge in our online survey here.

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