‘Diplomat’ to head committee

Richard Ottaway MP, a “diplomatic” Tory backbencher, has been voted in as the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee after a historic election.

For the first time ever, the coveted posts for committee chairmen were elected through a secret ballot. This is part of reforms brought in to reduce parliamentary patronage following last year’s parliamentary expenses scandal.

In the past, chairmen have emerged from a behind-the-scenes horse-trading heavily influenced by party whips.

Likened to a diplomat by colleagues, the former naval officer’s style will be a marked change from the more combative Mike Gapes MP, his predecessor.

A one-time lawyer and respected Tory MP who is vice chair of the powerful backbench 1922 Committee, Ottaway will now be in charge of holding Foreign Office ministers and officials to account.

He has ample select committee experience, having served on the Intelligence and Security Committee as well as being a founder member of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Malaysia.