Conservative MP Sir Robert Buckland has become the new chairman of the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee at Westminster.
He replaces Simon Hoare, who left the role after he was appointed as a local government minister at the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities as part of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s recent reshuffle.
Sir Robert takes up the position with immediate effect and will serve until the end of the current Parliament.
The committee is currently carrying out a number of inquiries, including into a massive PSNI data breach in which personal details of all police officers and staff members in Northern Ireland were published online, and into the implications of a Court of Appeal ruling for applicants in the region’s renewable heat incentive (RHI) scheme.
Sir Robert said: “I am thrilled to have the opportunity to chair the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee.
“With thanks to my colleagues who nominated me and supported my appointment, I am honoured to take on this privilege and at such a critical time for Northern Ireland politically.
“I will bring to the role experience and knowledge of Northern Ireland’s political landscape gained throughout my career, first as UK Government law officer, where I handled issues related to devolution and oversaw the passage of legislation through the Assembly, then latterly as Lord Chancellor, where I worked closely with senior judges in Northern Ireland to overcome judicial issues.”
He added: “As chair, I will not shy away from the necessary scrutiny required of the Northern Ireland Office, particularly as we see events unfold without a functioning Executive in Stormont.
“Northern Ireland is a valued and vital part of our United Kingdom, with communities and a history for which I have deep respect.
“I will work tirelessly, together with my fellow committee members, to provide effective scrutiny and, ultimately, improve the policies affecting the lives of people in Northern Ireland.”