Select Committee on Public Administration Minutes of Evidence

Letter from the Cabinet Office (PAP 43(a))


  1.  The Prime Minister makes a relatively small number of appointments to public bodies, and advises The Queen on others. Such appointments are generally to executive and advisory non-departmental public bodies and public corporations and fully within the remit of the Commissioner for Public Appointments (under the 1995 Order in Council) up to and including the point at which advice is provided to The Queen. Such appointments include, for example, the chair of the Police Complaints Authority or trustees of museums and galleries, and the Prime Minister makes or recommends such appointments on the advice of departments that handle the selection process. Information on diversity in public appointments to these bodies is set out in the annual Public Bodies publication.

  2.  In addition, the Prime Minister advises The Queen on a number of other government appointments. Such appointments are generally made on the advice of departments or relevant bodies in the sector concerned and selection follows the standard procedure for selection in that sector. Information on diversity in all of these appointments is not compiled centrally. The main categories of such appointments are:

    (i)  Civil Service Appointments, on advice, with selection procedures in line with the guidance provided by the Civil Service Commissioners;

    (ii)  Judicial appointments and certain appointments to tribunals, generally made on the recommendation of the Lord Chancellor;

    (iii)  Senior Armed Forces appointments, on the recommendation of the Secretary of State for Defence;

    (iv)  a small number of other statutory office holders and commissioners (for example the Commissioner for Public Appointments), made on the advice of the relevant Government departments.

  3.  The Prime Minister also makes or advises The Queen on a number of appointments that are not to government bodies. They include certain ecclesiastical appointments, scholastic appointments (for example Regius Professors) and certain Parliamentary appointments. He also provides advice on certain ceremonial or honorary appointments, for example, the Lord-Lieutenants, the Astronomer Royal and Her Honorary Physicians. The Prime Minister gives his advice after consultation with relevant bodies, following the standard procedures for the sector concerned and in line with the principle of selection on merit. Such appointments are made under the Royal Prerogative.

May 2002

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