HOUSE OF COMMONS COMMISSION
Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards:
Nomination of Candidate
1. On 19 July 1995, the House debated the First Report
of the Select Committee on Standards in Public Life,
and passed the following Resolution:
" That the appointment of a Parliamentary
Commissioner for Standards be set in hand under arrangements to
be made by Madam Speaker on the advice of the House of Commons
Commission and in accordance with the recommendations of the Select
Committee on Standards in Public Life."
2. The principal duties of the Commissioner are:
Maintaining and monitoring the
operation of the Register of Members' Interests.
Providing advice on a confidential basis
to individual Members and to the Select Committee on Standards
and Privileges about the interpretation of the Code of Conduct
and about questions of propriety.
Preparing guidance and providing induction
courses for new Members on matters of conduct, propriety and ethics.
Monitoring the operation of the Code
of Conduct and, where appropriate, proposing possible modifications
of it to the Committee.
Receiving and investigating complaints
about the conduct of Members (whether related directly to alleged
breaches of the Code or not) and reporting findings to the Committee.
3. Sir Gordon Downey was nominated by the House of
Commons Commission to be the first Parliamentary Commissioner
for Standards, and his nomination was approved by the House on
6 November 1995.
4. The Commission nominated Ms Elizabeth Filkin to
succeed Sir Gordon, and her nomination was approved by the House
on 17 November 1998. Ms Filkin's appointment comes to an end on
14 February 2002.
5. The House of Commons Commission would like to
record its appreciation of Ms Filkin's dedication to the work
of the House. She has successfully brought a number of complex
inquiries to a conclusion. Coupled with the Standards and Privileges
Committee's consideration of reports presented to them, her work
has fully validated the system of Parliamentary self-regulation
established following the recommendation of the first Nolan Report.
6. The Commission decided that, on the expiry of
Ms Filkin's appointment, there should be an open competition for
the post. Ms Filkin was assured a place on the final short list
should she wish, but decided not to enter the process.
7. Following advertisement in the national press
and a search by recruitment consultants, a total of 63 candidates
was reduced through sifts and interviews to a short list of six.
Those candidates were interviewed by a Board consisting of the
Clerk Assistant, Mr Roger Sands (Chairman), the Rt Hon. The Lord
Newton of Braintree OBE, the Rt. Hon Eric Forth MP (a Member of
the Commission), Sir Gordon Downey KCB, and the Director of Finance
and Administration, Mr Andrew Walker.
8. The interview Board recommended three candidates
for final interview by the Commission. For those interviews, Commissioners
were joined by the Chairman of the Committee on Standards and
Privileges, the Rt. Hon Sir George Young, Bt., MP. Mr Archy Kirkwood,
a Member of the Commission, decided to take no part in the interviews
because a complaint against him will fall to be examined by the
incoming Commissioner. The Commission regretted his absence but
believed that his action was entirely right and proper in the
9. The Commission wished to ensure that the selection
process followed best practice. Lord Newton and Sir Gordon Downey
were independent members of the Board. Ms Sheila Drew Smith, an
assessor recommended by the Commission for Public Appointments,
attended the later stages of the sifting process, the meetings
of the interview Board, and the final interviews by the Commission.
The Commission is very grateful to her, and to Lord Newton and
Sir Gordon Downey, for their help and advice.
The nominated candidate
10. Following the exacting process set out above,
the House of Commons Commission, with the agreement of the Chairman
of the Committee on Standards and Privileges, recommends to the
House Mr Philip John Courtney Mawer, at present Secretary General
of the General Synod of the Church of England and Secretary General
of the Archbishops' Council. The Commission is confident that
he has the necessary standing, ability and personal authority
for the role, and that he will bring to it the independence, discretion,
and strength of character required to ensure that the system of
Parliamentary self-regulation continues to work effectively, and
that it is seen to do so both inside and outside the House.
11. Mr Mawer's curriculum vitae is set out
in the Annex.
12. If the House approves the nomination, the Commission
intends that the appointment should be initially for three years.
Mr Mawer has indicated that he would be able to take up the appointment
at the beginning of March 2002. There would thus be a gap of less
than one sitting week between the end of Ms Filkin's contract
and Mr Mawer beginning work.
13. The House's Internal Review Service (IRS) is
carrying out a review of the resources necessary to support the
work of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards. The Commission
will base its judgement of the resources required on the IRS's
advice and on the views of the new Commissioner and of the Chairman
of the Committee on Standards and Privileges. Whatever resources
are judged to be required will be provided, and the situation
will be reviewed as necessary.
14. The new Commissioner will wish to form a view
on the time commitment necessary for him fully to discharge his
duties. If his nomination is approved by the House, Mr Mawer will
take up the appointment initially on the basis of a three-day
week at a salary of £75,000 p.a.; it is of course likely
that the workload will vary from time to time, and the Commission
will impose no restriction on the days per week which the Parliamentary
Commissioner considers necessary.