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Who's on the select committee?

Here's an introduction to the members of the House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee, gleaned from Wiki pages, TheyWorkForYou and so on. For each member, I've given details of constituency, party, educational/professional background and details of their voting records on climate change issues.

The good news is that there are a reasonable number of people there with genuine scientific backgrounds, including a few PhDs and one full professor.  In terms of credentials I think this is probably a reasonable group of people to assess the questions that have been asked.

Overall they seem to be much more sceptical of global warming than one might have expected. Intriguingly the distribution of sceptics over the different parties is almost the opposite of what might have been expected, with the Conservatives all appearing to be vigorously green, while their Labour counterparts appear to be the ones who vote against climate change legislation. This could be a case of the Tories trying to establish their environmental credentials as mandated by their party leader, David Cameron.

Here's the list.

Phil Willis (Chairman) Harrogate and Knaresborough (LD). Degree in history and music. Former teacher. Has voted moderately for laws to stop climate change.

Dr Roberta Blackman-Woods City of Durham (Lab). Sociologist. Has voted moderately against laws to stop climate change.

Mr Tim Boswell Daventry (C). Former farmer. Has voted very strongly for laws to stop climate change.

Mr Ian Cawsey Brigg and Goole (Lab). Background in IT. Has voted moderately against laws to stop climate change.

Mrs Nadine Dorries Mid Bedfordshire (C). Former nurse and businesswoman. Has voted strongly for laws to stop climate change.

Dr Evan Harris Oxford West & Abingdon (LD). Medicine. Voted very strongly for laws to stop climate change

Dr Brian Iddon Bolton South East (Lab). Professor of Chemistry. Voted for and against laws to stop climate change.

Mr Gordon Marsden Blackpool South (Lab). Former editor of History Today magazine. Voted moderately against laws to stop climate change.

Dr Doug Naysmith Bristol North West (Lab). PhD in Immunology. Voted moderately against laws to stop climate change.

Dr Bob Spink Castle Point (Ind). Electronic engineer. Voted strongly for laws to stop climate change.

Ian Stewart Eccles (Lab). Chemical plant operator. Has voted moderately against laws to stop climate change.

Graham Stringer Manchester, Blackley (Lab). Analytical chemist. Has voted strongly against laws to stop climate change. Has voted strongly against laws to stop climate change.

Dr Desmond Turner Brighton, Kemptown (Lab). PhD in biochemistry. Has voted moderately against laws to stop climate change.

Mr Rob Wilson Reading East (C). Small businessman. Has a commitment to "scientific evidence-based research into climate change". Has voted strongly for laws to stop climate change.



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Reader Comments (24)


Louise Gray in today's Daily Telegraph quotes chairman Phil Wills:

"There are a significant number of climate change deniers, who are basically using the UEA emails to support the case this is poor science that has been changed or at worst manipulated.

We do not believe this is healthy and therefore we want to call in the UEA so the public can see what they are saying"

This looks as though Wills at least "has an agenda" (to disarm deniers). Perhaps the airing of the dirty laundry in public may backfire on him?

Jan 23, 2010 at 12:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard M

If the Conservatives are "following orders" from CallMeDave then this will just turn into the usual whitewash we have come to expect from all Parliamentary/Government enquiries as they will be unable to bring any independent thought to their investigation. What a waste that would be, and what a boost for the alarmists.

CallMeDave may have decided not to put his wind turbine back up on the roof but he's still a fully signed up member of the Global Colling Denial brigade and will force his party in the same direction as, for purely political reasons, he can't be seen to "do a U turn" on ANY major policy area in the run up to the election. So he'll ignore all scientific evidence until it's so completely overwhelming he's actually forced to concede there's been a mistake (which will take more time than we have) or a major political event concerning Mann Made Global Warming allows him to move.

Jan 23, 2010 at 1:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohnRS

Ah, Rob Wilson is my MP. Think this means I need another copy of your book to help give him some background to the quality of the 'evidence based research' as put forward by Mann et al.

Jan 23, 2010 at 2:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterAtomic Hairdryer

This is extremely encouraging news. Phil Willis is a total creep (IMHO) but with so many doubters on the committee including a professor of chemistry and an IT guy, we can but hope.

It makes me wonder if after Copenhagen, the politicians would like a way out!

I want David Cameron to be green, but in a more traditional way - being opposed to forest destruction, waste of raw materials etc.

Jan 23, 2010 at 2:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid Bailey

Oh, I see that the "Liberal" "Democrat" Dr Death is on the committee, too. Surprise, surprise: he is also a strong supporter of climate alarmism.

Jan 23, 2010 at 3:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterOwen Morgan

It will be either a white wash or a witch hunt. It all depends on the weather this year and what the voters are thinking. Do not forget these are politicians driving this and they will use it to their own good.

If the voters don't give a damn, then it will be a white wash because the politicians don't want to make waves. If they do complain about the taxes and such, even Dr. Death will be screaming for Phil Jone's head for having "miss lead them".

Jan 23, 2010 at 3:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

I sent them all a message:

The British and American public will be closely watching your investigation into the corruption of the UN. This is from the UN and is a quick look at the problem.

A Political Issue for 2000 - and Beyond

(In particular refer to page 19/20: 'Politics Enters into Drafting the IPCC Report.' Here examples are given of 'substantial changes ... made between the time when the report was approved in Madrid and the time it was printed. (The convening lead author, Ben Santer, readily admitted to making these changes.)

Jan 23, 2010 at 3:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterKate

"Intriguingly the distribution of sceptics over the different parties is almost the opposite of what might have been expected, with the Conservatives all appearing to be vigorously green, while their Labour counterparts appear to be the ones who vote against climate change legislation. "

I would suggest that the answer to this is the corporations believe this is a huge profits opportunity for fleecing the sheeple with the trading involved with carbon credits, etc. and which party represents the corporations? G.E., Goldman Sachs, etc...why wouldn't they like cap and trade?

Jan 23, 2010 at 4:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterHello there

Election in May, biggest problem for the Conservatives is Camerons big green issue.
Lots of tories not happy about their leaders stance on green issues above conservative values.

How to swing an election part 1.
kill the green issue make it a huge public debacle, it was the scientists that done it gov’ner, split the tory party at just that critical time running up to the election.
Take the election by default, gain the mandate of the vote, for the first time, for another four years of being Prime Minister.

'Evidence in by 10th Feb please we have a lot of work to do before May' says Gordon as he skulks into the shadows stoking his white cat ‘ The country is mine, mine I say aarrghh ha ha ha’.

Jan 23, 2010 at 4:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterLord BeaverBrook

If I was a Labour member of the commitee*, I'd be feeling quite liberated.

no need to worry about re-election - it just isn't going to happen,

no need to worry about towing "the party line" as the current leadership will be gone the day after the election.

Tories all concientiously trying to look "Green", let them lie in the bed they're making for themselves.

Unless the labour members have got jobs lined up with GreenPeace, Friends of the Earth or some other bunch of fat arsed mammy Gaia's favourite snotty nosed brats (unlikely, somehow).

Then they are all free to be objective, even if it means two reports from a split committee.
Fan-effing -tastic!


*(hardly likely - no one with any sense would elect me to anything, and I'm too libertarian to go anywhere near Labour)

Jan 23, 2010 at 5:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterKeith

With due respect to the composition of this committee it should be emphaised that only 3 (yes three) Mps voted against the recent Climate Change Act under which a range of draconian measures will be implemented - so don't hold your breaths.

Jan 23, 2010 at 6:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterSpen

The voting record is interesting, but I think it can also be a little misleading - for instance, the campaign for the Government to sign up to 10:10 in October last year was started by the LibDems and huge numbers of Labour MPs voted against it, including Ed Miliband and Joan Ruddock, for party political reasons (as far as I can make out), which helps to skew the result.

I'd say that the member who might come closest to being a sceptic is Labour's Graham Stringer, a supporter of the aviation industry and also interested in solar physics, as per the Extreme Solar Events debate in Parliament last June.

Jan 23, 2010 at 6:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlex Cull

The outcome will be that some scientists behaved badly, but the British Government must still 'save the World' and prevent climate change ...
... unless some more unsavoury stuff comes to light in regard to Patchygate, and the IPCC.

I don't know if its worth writing to them, after my experience with various Parliamentarians right after the CRUtape letters appeared: I didn't even receive the usual boilerplate acknowledgement, never mind an answer.

I do wonder, however, if it might not be worth trying to get the Public Accounts Committee interested. after all, Defra paid Patchy ... and there's a certain Douglas Carswell on that committee ... hm ...

Jan 23, 2010 at 6:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterViv Evans

"The outcome will be that some scientists behaved badly, but the British Government must still 'save the World' and prevent climate change ..."

"Although a few academics in one department of one university have allowed subjectivity to distort the high standards demanded, there's loads and loads of other evidence for AGW from other sources which are unimpeachable. It remains that no educated person can doubt the reality of Climate Change. The government and opposition are both of one mind that the course the nation is steering as regards the real dangers of Climate Change, is correct, and in fact, the only sane course."

That would do unless another clog drops before the end of the enquiry. It might be to do with Patchy, it could be a complete blindsider.

It will be interesting to see how this turns out.

Jan 23, 2010 at 9:33 PM | Unregistered Commentercosmic

On what evidence has the Committee concluded that the e-mails have been "hacked" (per its terms of reference) as opposed to being released by an insider or accidentally made visisble to the outside world as a result of poor housekeeping?

Please ask your MP.

Jan 23, 2010 at 10:17 PM | Unregistered Commenteroldtimer

British mps were lead to suicidal future cuts in CO2 without a single bleat of protest. This will be easy.

Britain's moral duty is to lead the way in saving the world.

London's financial centre is the main home to the incipient global carbon market. Prof Heal believes that in a decade, the trade could be worth trillions of dollars.

Jan 24, 2010 at 2:53 AM | Unregistered CommenterE Smith

I cant figure out how you have worked out "voted moderately for". The Chairman is the most important person.

In the case of the Mann paper review by the National Academy's, NSR, Gerald North managed to cloud over an unfavourable report.

From what I can see Phil Willis has agreed with all the climate change legislation put up to vote so far.

If that be true, we cant expect very much from this committee.

Jan 24, 2010 at 6:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterRichard

It will go he way of all select committee enquiries... It will be a complete whitewash. I'd guess that its final summary is already written.

Jan 24, 2010 at 12:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterPogo

Phil Willis is my MP. He has a background in education and whenever I've heard him speak he sounds like a Guardian editorial. From conversations with party workers, he is a signed up AGW believer. Having said that, this is a middle class area and we have the typical professional attitude to recycling, food miles and saving the planet. So the party workers may just be appealing to the bien pensant crowd.

It's worth noting that he is retiring come the election, so he is free to be independent.

Regarding the Lab/Con split. It has been my life experience that Labour MPs tend to be marginally brighter than Conservative ones. If the wind is changing on AGW then you can be sure that Labour will pick up on it faster than the Conservatives.

Jan 24, 2010 at 1:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterTDK


I wouldn't want to argue with your experience of Labour and Conservative MPs, I have no opinion. I note the recent report that Conservative PPCs viewed climate change as one of their lowest priorities and were then packed off on a green awareness course. Whichever way the election turns out, there will be a lot of new faces in the HoC.

I see this as the political establishment, including the EU, setting out on the AGW course and being committed to it and the current is turning against it. Whichever government is in power will be inclined to stick to the course. The Conservatives are missing a trick by not raising doubts and preparing the way for an about turn. I suggest that Cameron is a true believer and won't allow it.

As for the select committee, my view is that were it accurate in its conclusions, it would find that the work of the CRU was untrustworthy and had to be redone or discarded. Given the important position of the CRU in forming the IPCC's output and the huge consequences of pursuing policies based on the findings of the IPCC, there should at least be a pause.

I don't see the committee wanting to be a brick wall stopping the AGW juggernaut, even if that's where the facts point.

Jan 24, 2010 at 7:11 PM | Unregistered Commentercosmic

This is a copy of an email I sent Phil Willis on Sunday 24 Jan:-

"Phil Willis MP

"Thank you for the courtesy of your response dated 29 November 2009.

"I now note in the press:-

"Phil Willis, Chairman of the Commons Science and Technology Committee said:
"There are a significant number of climate deniers, who are basically using
the UEA emails to support the case this is poor science. We do not believe
this is healthy and therefore we want to call in the UEA so that the public
can see what they are saying."

"Whilst I welcome your Committee's attention to this matter I have to say
that your use of the term "climate deniers" (coined I believe by Jim Hansen,
who also refers to coal trains as 'Death Trains" and coal fired power
stations as "Death Factories") is deliberately offensive and does not auger
well for the impartiality of the Enquiry or inspire confidence in the likely

"It is now becoming increasingly clear not only that the UEA have indulged in
poor, and probably fraudulent 'science' to further their personal agendas
but that other 'Climate' study establishments including the US National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the NASA Goddard Institute
for Space Studies (GISS) also stand accused (on the basis of material
obtained under Freedom of Information requests) of quite blatant
cherrypicking and distortion of World Temperature records. Witness the fact
that Bolivia, now mapped by GISS as being a global 'hotspot', has not
contributed ANY temperature data to NOAA's database for over twenty years,
the Andean 'hotspot' now being represented as manipulated averages of
Pacific beach and Amazonian jungle temperature data.

""Anthropogenic Global Warming" is now positively an Article of Faith for the
Liberal Democrat, Labour and Conservative Parties, who vie between
themselves as to who is 'Greenest'. It is also a matter of record that, when
the Government's Climate Change Bill went through the House of Commons on
29 October 2008, no less than 463 MPs voted in favour, with only 3 against.
This despite the fact that no-one (least of all the Government) had any idea
how much this would cost. DECC have subsequently come up with a cost
estimate of £18 billion per year for until 2050 although (having multiplied
previous estimates by 10) they suggest a 'benefit' of £1,024 billion
(seemingly plucked from thin air). You may believe these figures if you
wish. But you will allow that it might now be a good idea if MPs actually
considered whether, in fact "The science is beyond dispute and the facts are
clear" as Barack Obama asserted in 2008 and whether actions to move to a
'Low Carbon Economy" (which might be a good idea in an appropriate
timescale, once we understand the implications) has now to be pursued as a
matter of great urgency.

"A good starting point might be for MPs to acknowledge that since Margaret
Thatcher with Sir Crispin Tickell and Sir John Houghton back in 1988,
virtually every Government Scientific Advisor has not only been convinced of
AGW but have often been recruited from the ranks of alarmist activists. And
needless to say the present Government has been the most assiduous in
following this procedure. So both the Government and the majority of MPs
(who generally have little scientific training themselves), are advised by
'scientists' who share the general aspirations of the Green Party.

"MPs across the House have seen the indignation of the public concerning the
(rather overblown) expenses scandal. I put it to you that, when it is
generally recognised how flimsy is the scientific basis for the recent
doubling of domestic fuel bills (let alone Ofgem's prediction of an average
bill of £5,000 pa by 2020) then it may be recognised that little
difficulties with expenses are a mere bagatelle. I predict some measure of
irritation both amongst your constituents and the public at large.

"I remain of the view that a full Public Inquiry conducted by a Senior High
Court Judge is called for. But it is important that any examination by the
Commons Science and Technology Committee is not perceived to be partisan or
a whitewash. I suggest that the use of expressions like "climate deniers"
will scarcely assist you in this task.

Martin Brumby"

I invite other readers here to express their views to Mr. Willis, at

Jan 25, 2010 at 8:01 AM | Unregistered CommenterMartin Brumby


No particular disagreement.

I'm inclined to the argument of Climate Resistance that Politicians have retreated from politics with the result that it now occurs outside the political arena. In this case, the science of AGW is clearly preceded by the politics. The fact that a highly partisan advocacy group like WWF could regarded as a provider of disinterested science speaks volumes. Politicians can't engage with the science but neither do they engage with the politics.

The Conservatives are missing a trick by not raising doubts and preparing the way for an about turn. I suggest that Cameron is a true believer and won't allow it.

Absolutely. But that just confirms my belief that the Conservatives are on average a bit thicker than Labour. Labour recognises that there is an electorate beyond Islington. I'm not convinced that Cameron's Conservatives do.

Jan 25, 2010 at 12:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterTDK

Reply received already from Phil Willis:-

"Dear Mr Brumby,

"Thankyou for your email, which I have passed onto the Science and Technology Select Committee clerks. I assure you that when we are considering the emails leaked from UEA we will take your submission into consideration.

"I'd also like to add that I accept that my use of the phrase 'Climate Deniers' was a mistake, and I shall endeavour not to use it in the future. I apologise for any offence caused by my error, although I assure you that none was intended.

"Yours Sincerely,

Phil Willis MP"

Fair play to him, a reasonable response I think.

Jan 25, 2010 at 8:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartin Brumby

That's very encouraging Martin, well done for picking him up on it.

Jan 27, 2010 at 12:26 AM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

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