By Bob Hohler

Rep. Peter G. Torkildsen yesterday won the state's only chairmanship of a House panel in the next Congress.

Torkildsen, Republican of Danvers, was named chairman of the Small Business subcommittee on government programs, which oversees the US Small Business Administration's multibillion-dollar credit and capital programs.

The lone chairmanship reflects the Bay State delegation's loss of legislative clout in the Republican-controlled Congress. Under Democratic rule in the 103d Congress, delegation members were chairmen of 12 congressional panels, six in the House and six in the Senate.

Sens. Edward M. Kennedy and John F. Kerry will lose their Senate chairmanships under GOP control.

For Torkildsen, who spent his freshman term in the House minority, the subcommittee chairmanship is a valued prize. Rep. Peter I. Blute of Shrewsbury, the only other Republican in the state's House delegation, did not receive a chairmanship.

"Chairing the subcommittee will allow me to hold hearings in Washington and Boston on important issues facing the small-business community," Torkildsen said. "Small businesses are the backbone of our economy."

Three other House Republicans from New England also won subcommittee chairmanships: Rep. Bill Zeliff of New Hampshire will lead the Government Reform and Oversight subcommittee on national security, international affairs and criminal justice; Rep. Nancy Johnson of Connecticut will lead the Ways and Means subcommittee on oversight; and Rep. Chris Shays of Connecticut will lead the Government Reform and Oversight subcommittee on human resources and intergovernmental relations.

Meanwhile, House Democrats nearly completed the lengthy competition for their sharply reduced share of committee seats. They lost dozens of seats with the elimination of three committees, including the Merchant Marine and Fisheries Committee led by Rep. Gerry E. Studds of Cohasset. In addition, dozens of other seats shifted to Republican control in the transition of power.

In the Bay State delegation's fall from power, the lone consolation was Rep. Richard E. Neal's holding onto his seat on the Ways and Means Committee. Neal, of Springfield, is the state's only member of the committee and the panel's lowest-ranking member.

Rep. Edward J. Markey, Democrat of Malden, agreed to take a leave of absence from the Natural Resources Committee to make space for junior members. Markey, who ranks second on the committee, may reclaim his rank when he returns. Until then he will serve on the Energy and Commerce Committee, where he is ranked fourth, and where he is the top Democrat on the telecommunications and finance subcommittee.

Markey's leave of absence allows Studds to temporarily gain one slot in rank on the Natural Resources Committee. Studds, who moved to the committee after the demise of the Merchant Marine and Fisheries panel, would have ranked ninth on Natural Resources, after the former chairman and seven other members who headed subcommittees last session.

Meanwhile, Rep. Barney Frank of Newton moved swiftly up the seniority ladder on the Judiciary Committee, climbing from ninth to third. Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy 2d of Brighton made a similar gain on the Veterans' Affairs Committee, jumping from eighth to third.

Rep. John W. Olver of Amherst, who lost the state's only seat on Appropriations, will be ranked 14th on the Budget Committee and the Science, Space and Technology Committee.