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Nominations open for Chair of Defence Committee

12 December 2023

The Speaker has announced the timetable for the election of the Chair of the Defence Select Committee following the resignation of Robert Courts MP.

Nominations close at noon on Tuesday 16 January 2024. If there is more than one candidate, a ballot will take place on Wednesday 17 January 2024 between 11am and 2.30pm.

Under the Order of the House of 16 January 2020, the Chair of the Defence Committee is allocated to the Conservative Party. Candidates require the support of 15 fellow Conservative MPs for their nomination to be valid.

If only one MP is nominated for the role, they are elected unopposed. If two or more MPs stand, there follows a ballot where MPs vote by ranking candidates in order of preference. Votes are later counted under the Alternative Vote system. The result is expected to be announced in the Chamber later that day.

Valid nominations received on sitting days will be printed in the next day’s House business papers. They will also be published on the Parliament website along with the candidate’s supporting statement, signatories and any declared interests.


Rehman Chishti MP for Gillingham and Rainham

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Nominated by (own party)

James Morris, Jonathan Gullis, Kelly Tolhurst, Royston Smith, Ian Levy, Giles Watling, Dr Matthew Offord, Henry Smith, Tom Hunt, Mark Logan, Paul Bristow, Kwasi Kwarteng, Daniel Kawczynski, Jack Brereton, Martin Vickers

Nominated by (other parties or no party)

Debbie Abrahams, Mr Khalid Mahmood, Sammy Wilson, Ms Anum Qaisar, Yasmin Qureshi

Interests declared

British Army Reservist (2020–2022) as per Register of Members' Financial Interests

Supporting statement

Holding Defence to Account

A principled collaborative candidate with a proven track record for cross-party working and holding parties to account.

Wide experience in Foreign Policy, Defence and Security as an army reservist, a former FCDO Minister for Sanctions and North America, and experience from serving on a number of select committees over 14 years.

A Barrister with excellent cross-examination skills, and a former UK Envoy on Religious Freedom working with colleagues from across the House to advance this, as well as with international partners in helping set up a 27-member state alliance to take action.

The first duty of the state is to protect our citizens and keep our country safe, that means ensuring our Armed Forces have the appropriate resources and strategy to meet the challenges of today and the future. The questions I ask are:

Is the current annual cycle of defence budget setting working or do we need to review this, to ensure it is flexible to changing circumstances. I note the current Defence and Industry strategy which aims to maintain and sustain our defence industry.

Do we need to look at the rules on military equipment certifications, with regards to equipment which has already been certified by our key partners and allies helping save time and money.

Is the current level of military personnel appropriate, both regular and reserves, to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow. How effective is our current policy on retention and recruitment of our armed forces personnel.

Where are we with regards to investment in new technologies such as cyber, drones or communications, as well as looking at the deployability of our troops in conventional and non-conventional warfare which can last a long time.

We will also need to look at interoperability with our international partners be that NATO, Aukus or special expeditions with partners such as Norway and Canada in the High North and Arctic.

Also, are our Special Forces appropriately equipped to deal with modern challenges further to lessons learnt from deployment in Afghanistan.

It will be absolutely vital to ensure our military personnel have the best support and care during service be that with accommodation and support for their families to ensure morale is maintained. High quality support must also extend to personnel in leaving service to help their transition into civilian life as veterans and maintain it thereafter.

We will need to ensure that frivolous legal complaints against our military personnel are brought to an end. Also, a question needs to be asked with regards to grey zone, area of war, rules of engagement and international humanitarian law, noting the wide spectrum of conflicts around the world.

Our role in the committee will be to hold defence to account. I look to work with colleagues on the committee and parliamentary colleagues from across the House with their different ideas to ensure how best we do this. Together we will look at key issues that need to be addressed in a fair and firm manner. 

Jeremy Quin MP for Horsham

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Nominated by (own party)

Harriett Baldwin, Sir Robert Goodwill, Dr Thérèse Coffey, Mr Ben Wallace, Mr Robin Walker, Angela Richardson, Dame Karen Bradley, Greg Clark, Philip Dunne, Simon Jupp, Nickie Aiken, Steve Brine, Iain Stewart, Tim Loughton, Mrs Heather Wheeler

Nominated by (other parties or no party) 

John Spellar, Valerie Vaz, Dave Doogan, Mr Kevan Jones, Sir Stephen Timms

Interests declared

I served as Minister of State in the Ministry of Defence from February 2020 to September 2022.  I am Honorary President of the Air Cadet Squadron in my Horsham constituency.  Defence manufacturers Thales and Boeing are employers in a neighbouring constituency and Chess Dynamics, a subsidiary of defence manufacturer Cohort PLC, is based in Horsham.

Supporting statement 

The Challenge We Face

In Europe, the Middle East, the Indo-Pacific we face multiple challenges to our security, interests and prosperity.   The old certainties of recent decades have been swept away and we must face up to new threats.  In a world in which Defence is evolving fast, driven by technology and the lessons of the battlefield, we must upgrade our capabilities to protect ourselves from those who would challenge our way of life.

The Issues We Need to Address 

We must increase our national resources devoted to Defence.  As the threat picture has changed so must our resources to match it.

We need an industrial base right sized for the future—not the post Cold War era—able to both equip and resupply at pace.  A flourishing UK defence sector must maintain sovereign capabilities but be able to enhance critical mass through collaborative programmes, manufacturing from the outset with a view to export to our partners.

What were “groundbreaking” technologies are now mainstream.  We must ensure that every service adapts fast:  combined arms requires the full suite of AI and technological support to combat not just peer-on-peer but asymmetric threats.  We can secure first mover advantage but only through early investment.

The UK is a trusted ally for good reason.  The expansion of NATO and the need to maintain and expand our partnerships globally must be reflected in our Defence posture.

We need to ensure our Defence “offer”:  from housing, to training, to veteran support continues to attract into our Armed Forces the first rate men and women we need to ensure the Defence Family can deliver.

Bringing Specialist Knowledge to Bear 

As Minister for Defence Procurement I was privileged to be involved across the Department from the Nuclear Enterprise; to AI and Space; to the Defence Estate; to Industrial and Export policy including supporting Ukraine.  I launched the Defence and Security Industrial Strategy transforming the way we buy Military Equipment and subsequently delivered the Procurement Act.  Testing our readiness to face current and future threats, scrutinising the equipment plan and the UK’s relationship with our allies are all critical areas for Committee and House.

I believe I can bring detailed understanding to bear which is up to date but benefits from the perspective arising from over a year’s distance from serving as a minister in the Department.

Value of Cross-Party Scrutiny

As a Defence Minister I found Select Committee sessions invaluable.  I passionately believe that Select Committees can help keep Ministers on top of their Department, drive better decision making and ensure that we can be confident that Parliament is doing its job.

As a member of the DWP Select Committee I worked cross-party to hold Philip Green to account on BHS Pensions: helping deliver a better outcome for BHS employees and legal protection for pensioners.  Select Committees can really drive change, as Chair my role would be to empower the whole committee to deliver results as a team.  It would be a privilege to undertake that task.

Further information

Header image credit: UK Parliament/Elspeth Keep