Former health secretary Stephen Dorrell has been elected chair of the Commons health committee.

Mr Dorrell oversaw the implementation of GP fundholding during his 1995-97 term as health secretary and was critical of Andrew Lansley in the lead-up to the general election.

At last year’s Conservative party conference he told HSJ he wanted to see “a little sunlight” brought into the then shadow health secretary’s vision.

He said then it was not so much that Mr Lansley did not have a strong vision, but rather that he was not articulating it well. He was also concerned the party could miss the opportunity to make the case for radical public service reform: “We want to see not so much a new idea but a clear view.”

Mr Dorrell’s perceived critical stance towards Mr Lansley has made him a welcome appointment for the centre right of the party. A source told HSJ: “There has been no challenge from the centre right to the Lansley orthodoxy. He will want to focus on value for money, including NHS pay and pensions.”

“The Treasury are terrified about Lansley and were looking for a counterweight. People will listen to him [Mr Dorrell].”

Mr Dorrell told HSJ this week that in addition to providing scrutiny and advice to the government on health policy he was “also concerned with long term care of the elderly and dealing with the three terms unfinished business on social care”.

Asked about Mr Lansley’s plans to effectively abolish strategic health authorities and strip primary care trusts of the majority of their commissioning responsibilities, he said he was “interested to see how the plans will develop”.