Mr James Arbuthnot has written to me in accordance with Standing Order No. 122C, giving notice of his wish to resign from the chairmanship of the Select Committee on Defence. I therefore declare the chair vacant.
I would like, I feel sure on behalf of the House, to make two points in respect of the Chair of the Defence Committee. First, the combination of skill and conscientiousness which the right hon. Gentleman has brought to his task of chairing that Committee—[Hon. Members: “ Hear, hear”]—over a long period has been greatly to the advantage of the House. It is a matter of record that the right hon. Gentleman regards the chairmanship of the Committee as the single most stimulating and rewarding function that he has undertaken in the House in the course of his nigh 27 years in it. We are grateful to him. Secondly—and I say this with some personal feeling—I have always felt that the right hon. Gentleman has treated the House and me with the most exemplary courtesy, which is appreciated by me, and his general approach is hugely appreciated by the House. [Hon. Members: “ Hear, hear.”]
The following will be the arrangements for electing a new Chair of the Defence Committee. Nominations should be submitted in the Lower Table Office by 12 noon on Tuesday 13 May. Following the House’s decision of 26 May 2010, only members of the Conservative party may be candidates in this election. If there is more than one candidate, the ballot will take place on Wednesday 14 May from 11 am to 1 pm in a Committee Room to be announced. A briefing note with more details about the election will be made available to Members and published on the intranet.