Before we proceed with the debate, I will now announce the result of the ballot held today for the election of a new Chair of the Treasury Committee. Five hundred and twelve votes were cast, with one spoiled ballot paper. The counting went to two rounds—505 valid votes were cast in the second round, excluding those ballot papers whose preferences had been exhausted. The quota to be reached was, therefore, 253 votes. Elected Chair of the Treasury Committee, with 263 votes, was Mr Mel Stride. The right hon. Gentleman will take up his post immediately.
Perhaps I can be the first very warmly to congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on his appointment. He and I have interacted regularly over the years, both, of course, during his service as a Minister, notably as a Treasury Minister, when he was unfailingly courteous both to the House and to the Chair, and during his short, but distinguished, period as Leader of the House in which capacity, of course, he sat on the House of Commons Commission under my chairmanship. He was punctilious, co-operative and every inch the public servant, and it was a pleasure for me to interact with him.
The results of the count under the alternative vote system will be made available as soon as possible in the Vote Office and published on the internet for public viewing, but, meanwhile, once again I say to the right hon. Gentleman: congratulations and good luck.
On a point of order, Mr Speaker. May I thank you very much indeed for your personal kind words and say what an honour it is to have been elected by this House to this very important Committee? I would like to extend my thanks to my fellow candidates—we had a very strong field—and to say that I will reciprocate the confidence that the House has shown in me by chairing that Committee with the utmost fairness. Finally, may I say that, at a time of great sound and fury in this Chamber, I hope that our Committee now brings forward some illumination and light.
I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman. One of those distinguished competitors was Harriett Baldwin.
Further to that a point of order, Mr Speaker. May I add my voice of congratulations to my right hon. Friend Mel Stride and to my hon. Friends the Members for Wyre Forest (Mark Garnier) and for Thirsk and Malton (Kevin Hollinrake)? I thank the House staff for organising such an orderly election and all those who voted for me.
That was a particularly gracious response by the hon. Lady, which resonated with colleagues, and I underline it. I also know the hon. Members for Wyre Forest (Mark Garnier) and for Thirsk and Malton (Kevin Hollinrake) very well. Both are very committed parliamentarians, and I thank them for putting themselves forward, for being here for the announcement of the result, and, I am sure, for their ready acceptance of the verdict of colleagues. I wish them well in everything they go on to do. I think that we will leave it there.
Further to that point of order, Mr Speaker. This is my first ever point of order in the House for four years and what better occasion to use it than to thank my colleagues in this race, which was always conducted in the best of spirits. My congratulations go to my victorious right hon. Friend, Mel Stride. He will do a brilliant job of chairing that Treasury Committee and will do an important job at a very key time.
Would Mark Garnier also like to say something?
Those contributions were typically gracious of hon. Members. I thank them for what they have said, as I am sure the right hon. Member for Central Devon does.
I have now to announce the result of today’s three deferred Divisions on questions relating to regulations in relation to exiting the European Union. In respect of the question relating to freedom of establishment and free movement of services, a point to which I know Mary Creagh is keenly attending, rather than engaging in her fevered private conversation with Helen Goodman; I am sure she wants to hear this announcement. Essay question: does the hon. Member for Wakefield know in relation to which question I am announcing the result?
Yes, European Union—the question relating to freedom of establishment and free movement of services. Very good. The hon. Lady passed; first-class honours. The Ayes were 315 and the Noes were 286, so the Ayes have it. In respect of the question relating to auditors—I know this is on all your lips—the Ayes were 315 and the Noes were 287, so the Ayes have it. In respect of the question relating to financial services, the Ayes were 315 and the Noes were 284, so the Ayes have it. We shall now proceed with the debate.
[The Division lists are published at the end of today’s debates.]