Mr Speaker: I will now announce the result of the ballot held today for the election of a new Chair of the Select Committee on Defence: 479 votes were cast, with one spoilt ballot paper. The counting went to seven stages and 438 valid votes were cast in that round, excluding those ballot papers whose preferences had been exhausted. The quota to be reached was therefore 220 votes. Mr Rory Stewart was elected Chair, with 226 votes. The other candidate in that round was Dr Julian Lewis, who received 212 votes. Rory Stewart will take up his post immediately. [For full results, click here.]
May I be the first, on behalf of all colleagues in the House, warmly to congratulate the hon. Gentleman? I am sure I speak for all colleagues when I thank all the other candidates who took part in the election. [Hon. Members: “Hear, hear.”] 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 both the intranet and the internet for public viewing.
Rory Stewart: On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I want to say a huge thank you. It has been an enormous privilege to stand alongside colleagues who have approached this in such a collegiate and kind fashion. I have so much to learn from them. I am a very young and inexperienced new Member and this is a very great honour. Thank you very much, Mr Speaker.
Mr James Gray: Further to that point of order, Mr Speaker. May I take this opportunity, perhaps on behalf of all of my colleagues, to congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Penrith and The Border (Rory Stewart) on his great success and undertake, as far as I can on behalf of those of us who are members of the Committee, to serve loyally behind him in the months that lie ahead? I thank the Clerks of the House, who carried out the election with absolutely immaculate efficiency.
Mr Speaker: I thank the hon. Gentleman. His remarks are typically gracious and I think will be acknowledged by the House. If there are no further colleagues wishing to detain the House – they are very welcome to do so in exceptional circumstances, but if they do not choose to do so it is best that we move on. I thank the Minister, who is always sensitive to the atmosphere in the House.
Mr Julian Brazier rose –
Mr Speaker: Mr Brazier cannot contain himself.
Mr Brazier: On a point of order, Mr Speaker. As you have made the generous offer, Mr Speaker, it falls to those of us who are sitting members of the Committee and competitors to congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Penrith and The Border (Rory Stewart) on a remarkable victory and say how much we will enjoy serving under him.
Mr Speaker: I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on those remarks.
Dr Julian Lewis: Further to that point of order, Mr Speaker. It would be a shame not to join the party. I can only thank all those who supported me, congratulate the winner, commiserate with the other hon. Members who stood and say that I am very sorry for whoever it was who hoped to replace me on the Intelligence and Security Committee – [Laughter.] They will have to wait a little longer.
Mr Speaker: I thank the hon. Gentleman. With that, I think we should now return to the business of the House.