Examination of Witnesses(Questions 1140-1159)|
THURSDAY 12 DECEMBER 2002
1140. Are you arguing in the pamphlet for extending
the principle across the education system, that places should
be allocated by random selection by lot?
(Mr Wainwright) No.
1141. You are not, so this is just an interesting
(Mr Wainwright) Exactly and you use it yourselves.
1142. On page 9 you give some other interesting
examples of conscription in the United States and admission to
medical schools and so on. It seems to me from reading this list
on page 9 that people either want to do it, whether it is on the
community fund, doshing out money, or if they do not do it, there
is some sanction. In the United States, if you do not sign up
to the draft, then you go to jail. But what about a system of
lot which brings forward people who are just not interested in
participating in this quango? What sanctions would apply there?
(Mr Wainwright) Well, it will not do that because
they will not respond. I was interested in that Andy got a very
big response. When we did this in Yorkshire and the Humber, we
had three from York and two from Barnsley which made it a lot
easier and most people self-select themselves out. It is not like
jury service, there is no compulsion.
1143. This is very limited in scope and no one
is going to be press-ganged into doing something that they do
not want to do?
(Mr Wainwright) No, definitely not.
(Ms Paraskeva) It may be limited in scope in that
respect, but I think the whole idea is not limited in scope. I
was the person who took Martin's idea and made it happen across
nine regions and am a firm believer in what it actually achieved.
What it achieved was to bring together a pool of people from which
to select and I think what it actually brings, rather than election
where you get a particular kind of person who wants to put themselves
forward for an election or is searching for a job, again a particular
kind of person looking for a specific job, it draws from a wide
range right across the community, whether you are looking for
diversity in terms of age, intellectual capacity, ethnicity, gender,
from which you can then select. Having run a small quango and
having been myself on a health trust, I know that on both of those
occasions I got there partly on merit, but also, in terms of the
trust, because somebody knew whose shoulder to tap because of
the experience that they knew that I had and they thought it might
be useful. What if I had had some of that experience in a different
place which nobody knew about? What I think this particular example
that Martin came forward with and actually did for the National
Lottery's Charities Board, as it was then, was introduce a whole
range of people to the opportunity to put themselves forward.
We were tapping the shoulders of lots of folk and saying, "Have
you thought of this?" It was not in many ways very different
from the approach of the head-hunting industry. They go out to
people who might not be looking for a job and say, "Did you
know this job was available and have you thought of applying for
it?" All we are doing here is saying to the community, to
whom all of the time we are saying, "Put something back,
volunteer, come and give of your experience", so all we are
doing is saying to the community, "Here is something we would
like community involvement in. Have you thought of putting yourself
forward?" I do think then that some kind of selection is
necessary obviously in the very cautious way that Andy has suggested
and certainly no sanctions if you do not want to do it. But I
actually would be more ambitious with your idea, Martin, I think,
than you are and I would like to see it applied as a way of getting
the consumer involved, for example, in organisations, actually
going out there, getting the names and addresses from the electoral
roll, writing to people inviting them, then seeing who responds
and gathering the people who respond together. Then some self-selection
happens and then at the end of the day you might have criteria
or you might not, which you might want in the case of your school
in order to make sure that you have an ethnically-balanced committee.
As I say, I am more ambitious than Martin for his own idea.
1144. So there is a huge pool of people out
there who are just straining at the leash?
(Ms Paraskeva) Yes, I think so. I think we would all
like to be asked and what actually happens is we tell people that
they should volunteer and there is lots of onus about, "Come
and volunteer, get involved", but no one actually goes and
says, "Will you please?" to people other than the people
they already know might say yes, and I think there are a lot of
people who would say yes if they were asked properly.
Chairman: You could say that the citizens' panels
which many local authorities, probably most local authorities,
now run are done in the same way. They simply take people off
the electoral register, write to them and say, "Would you
like to join our citizens' panel?", and they say yes or no,
so that could be another example of how it is operating.
Sir Sydney Chapman
1145. If we were, in our report, to recommend
appointment by lot, from what you have just told us, that is not
the case for Linda and Martin. Yes, by lot to get on the first
long list, but then subsequently, it seems to me, selection turned
out Linda and Martin. That is the first point I want to make.
The second is that whilst, Mr Wainwright, you said that you did
not think that the system should be throughout the 30,000 appointments,
nevertheless, could I press you perhaps to agree that, as a general
rule, a quarter of people appointed to a quango might be initially
by lot, or are you saying that the person who is pin-pricked on
the electoral register should actually, if he or she wants to,
be appointed to the quango without an interview?
(Mr Wainwright) I think there are two very interesting
points there. On the first one, the question of the balance between
the random nature of things and the subsequent de-randomising
of it, one reason why I am cautious, and I am impressed at the
radicalism which seems to be in the room, but one reason why I
am cautious is that I think a small experiment would allow the
quangos involved to fine-tune that and think about it all the
way from being literally random, as you suggest, and dropping
on someone and saying, "It's you, provided you agree",
or having a more substantial interview side to it and then going
to the other extreme where you ultimately place parameters on
the interview side. The reason why it would be tremendous if you
recommended a more robust experiment is that those things could
be looked atwhat works and what does not. In terms of appointing
such a large section of a quango by lot, I would be a bit scared
about that, to be honest. On the one hand, I would think,"Great",
but, on the other hand, I keep thinking that one must be practical.
This is such a tiny experiment at the moment, you must not hope
for the moon. I think the feeling is for more than one `by lot'
member per quango as I think that one on their own would probably
find it very difficult, so the Community Fund system of having
a couple works very well. I know it could be described as tokenism,
but I just feel that that criticism is a criticism really that
stops anything happening because all change begins as tokenism.
1146. But if people, for example, had to be
elected to some quango, you think that two would be too many?
(Mr Wainwright) I am revealing my mathematical inability!
In that case, it could be too many.
1147. The other point I would like to put to
you is that rather than initially by lot to get your long-list
or short-list, why not have a publicity drive, either nationally
or regionally, to say, "If you are interested in serving
on a quango, write in", and then from those people, from
that list, from a national register or a regional register according
to the particular job, somebody is appointed. How would they approach
(Mr Wainwright) Well, I do not think the two are opposed
to one another. I have been really interested in all the imaginative
ideas that have come as a result of your inquiry and the evidence
to it and I do not think these things are exclusive. I think Janet's
point is very fundamental about this. I do not know if it is a
national characteristic, but people are so loathe to put themselves
forward. I personally am. I was approached in the old, dreadful,
pre-Nolan way and I would have never put myself forward for a
quango. There is something which says that you should not put
yourself up for a quango and that is one distinct thing about
this system, that it does actually go to people and say, "Go
1148. You mentioned the jury system, but of
course there is a qualification with the jury system and that
is that you have got to be under 70. Now, I am getting very sensitive
about this! What I am really asking, and perhaps Andy might like
to answer this, but when those people came and you saw them, was
it in your mind, "Well, he's too old", or, "That
person is just over 18 and has not got the experience"? Did
you take those factors into consideration? I am not suggesting
you should have done.
(Mr Freeney) No, the definition of it, made on the
understanding of the committee, is that it is fully representative
of the whole of the north-west, both geographically, in terms
of male and female and in terms of age, so we have a young person
as well as a mature person, so we try to make sure that the committee
does represent all of the community of the north-west, as far
as that is possible in ten people and obviously that is a big
challenge, but age is not an issue in that sense. In other words,
we would positively try to get people to represent older people.
As Mr Prentice knows, in the north-west older people and their
carers are one of our targeted groups for the year and we are
trying desperately to get more money into Help the Aged and Age
Concern and all of those sort of activities, so that is the first
thing. The point you made earlier was an interesting one about
actually how you select. It is technically possible to use a computer
and get one person from one area to come forward and we did in
fact look into that. The problem is or the challenge is that when
you have got one person and he or she says no, you have got to
start again and again and even if you are successful in attracting
that person when they come to the first, second or third meeting
and then they opt out, the cost in time to us and other costs
is enormous, so we go for a sample, if you like, a random sample
and by interacting with that sample, yes, we make a decision.
We say out of the 30 people, "We think Martin or Linda are
the people we want to make a contribution", and to a certain
extent it is a form of selection, but I think the initial bit
is a very important one and that is what we say to the sector
in the-north-west. We say, "Eight of our members are selected
by interview and two are selected, as far as possible, randomly",
and they have a completely different view and how they are introduced
into a very complex system, because of our financial regulations
and so on, is a different way. The other thing I would want to
say to the Committee is that the other area which certainly I
am beginning to work on now is the relationship with their employer
because a lot of employers say, "Yes, we will give our staff
community time", but when actually push comes to shove and
the demands on the economy and so on happen, as in Keith's case,
it was, "It's your job, so you make the decision". They
were, as I say, changing over to Jaguar and there were a lot of
issues going on. I do think another aspect of that is that I as
the regional manager need to go along to Jaguar and say, "Look,
we are very interested in Keith making this contribution. What
is your contribution? Will his job be protected?", in other
words, to support that person better. However, the person who
applies for a job has made a decision that he or she has the time
because we tell them that it is two days a month or whatever it
might be, so they say, "Yes, I can do that", whereas
the person who is randomly selected gets it dumped on them, as
it were. So we are still learning from this, but I think what
we have learnt so far is that it does work and we are very positive
about it. Yes, Janet was right, it is a system which has worked
for us and the proof is in the pudding, but there are areas that
we need to strengthen. One of them is my relationship with employers
and convincing employers that it is good for their workforce that
this person is involved in this. Can I just make one point, Mr
1149. You keep coming back to me!
(Mr Freeney) Yes. It is a very good job to give money
honestly. There is no better product, is there? We delight people
in your constituency
1150. No, you do not!
(Mr Freeney) Precisely! They are the people you write
to me about, so the job of the committee is to make decisions
to say, "A will get it and B will not", and B is the
letter I get the next day from Mr Prentice, and I understand that,
but that is what the committee is about. We do not have enough
money, it is decreasing and the challenge for the committee is
becoming greater, so I still think it is the way forward in terms
of representing our communities.
1151. On the Prentice point, when I read your
press cuttings, you have got one in here which says, "Lucky
number for mother who can change Barnsley's fortunes", and
I read it and it says, and it is quoting the person you found,
a 27-year-old wife and mother, "`Barnsley does not get much
cash and they thought having someone like me would make the situation
better'." It surely cannot be right that people come on to
it on the basis that they are going to get more money for their
areas, can it? Otherwise, you will have troublemakers like Gordon
(Mr Freeney) No, and that is a press comment, I have
to say, and it does not work that way. I think what happens is
yes, they do come in with a local flavour, as it were, but they
get very rapidly the understanding that their task is to serve
a region and in my case that is five major areas, a lot of rural
areas, a lot of urban areas and so on, so the challenge is much
greater and it does take them a while to bed in. Martin and Linda
can probably talk about that better than I can. I do not know
long it is before they are happy with the decisions they have
to make. I am sure it is at least a year.
(Mr Gray) Following on from Mr Prentice's point, I
can agree with him that being approached by the Lottery is a very
pleasant task to undertake, but if you want to extend this elsewhere,
and I know very little about quangos, but I would have thought
that some of the jobs that they do are probably less attractive,
and you will find it quite different. You will not get the same
response possibly. As far as the quango is concerned, it has a
job to do, so I would suggest that an interviewing process is
required because really I would have thought that you want to
make sure that those people who serve on it can actually make
a positive contribution to it because if you actually end up putting
someone on it who, though they might be willing, might not be
able to make any contribution, you should question the value of
that person's contribution.
1152. I want to try and tease a bit more information
out of Linda and Martin, if I may. How long have you each been
doing this job?
(Ms Parkinson) Myself, this is my second year.
(Mr Gray) This is my fourth.
1153. Is there a time limit?
(Ms Parkinson) Yes.
(Mr Freeney) It is three to five.
1154. Potentially could they be renewed and
kept on, given the skills that they provide?
(Mr Freeney) Currently on our boards it is a maximum
of three to five years and then we need to renew them, and that
applies to selected members as well. They sit on them for three
to five years and some people commit themselves to three and say,
1155. I am wondering if there is a trap in this.
Clearly Linda and Martin have contributed greatly through the
work that they have done and the skills they have developed and
potentially you could say, "Thanks very much and off you
go", but that would be a potential loss, I would have thought,
to the board and a loss to the community in general. Do you have
a comment on that?
(Mr Freeney) I hope that the way people move off the
committee is done in a limited way and that we do not get half
leaving at the same time, although that is potentially possible
if you have illnesses and other matters, but because we try and
turn over the committee on a regular basis, I think the opportunities
for finding the Martins and Lindas of this world are still there
and we still have more people out there that we want to attract.
Yes, it is sad sometimes when people like Martin and Linda have
to move on because during their last two years they are making
an enormous contribution because they are obviously not the new
kid on the block anymore, but they actually have taken over from
those who have served longer, but I still think the opportunities
for bringing in new blood, new ideas and keeping us fresh and
me fresh is a very important element of committees changing regularly.
I do not like the idea of people staying on committees until their
coffin is taken away.
1156. Martin, do you want to say anything?
(Mr Gray) I agree, I think it is refreshing to have
new people come on to committees, whether it is in this situation
or whether it is in a social organisation or whatever. I think
it is important that there is a turnover of committees, otherwise
it becomes almost a club rather than a committee. The other thing
you have to remember is that people like myself, I rely totally
on my employer to give me the time to carry out my commitments
and it would be unfair to expect an employer to have to continue
in that direction.
(Ms Parkinson) I agree too. It means that the experience
I have had I can take on elsewhere and people like me who think,
"Gosh, what can I do? Do you really want somebody like me?
I am just a housewife?", it means that someone else can have
the experience. You cannot keep taking and you have got to be
able to give something back. As far as my employer is concerned,
I have to use my holidays to do this job, so it is a whole week
or more out of my annual holiday that I use, so I am all for your
employer to say, "Yes, you don't have to use your holiday".
1157. As a result of the experience you have
had with the Lottery, have either of you got more involved in
public life in other ways, more voluntary work or community work?
Has it had that effect?
(Ms Parkinson) For myself, not as yet because I was
already volunteering in the college as an assistant teacher for
adults with learning difficulties, so this is just something else
that has happened on top. It is an old cliche« and I have
said it before, but because I work with children, it has made
me feel like an adult and it is fascinating. It is hard work,
I must admit. In the first year you sit there very quietly and
you put your hand up quietly, unsure whether you want to put this
question across, but our chairman says, "It does not matter
what type of question it is, that is the reason why you are here
and unless you ask, you'll never learn", or there could be
a mistake that they have made because you were too frightened
to ask the question and it is the sort of thing, well, personally
it is what I do. The question might seem obvious, but perhaps
someone has not asked it.
1158. You mentioned earlier about the coupling
system where you take two people chosen by lots, say. Have you
both experienced that?
(Ms Parkinson) Yes, that is how I was chosen.
1159. Were there benefits and positives in that?
(Ms Parkinson) Initially no, because you just have
this letter saying that you have been chosen and basically it
is an invitation to come to an interview to find out about the
charity work. It did not make me feel, "Gosh, that is novel.
I have never thought of doing that before". I just looked
at the letter, thinking, "Why do they want me?" Then
it was, "How did they get my number and my name?" and
of course I did not even think of the electoral roll first of
all, so it does not make you feel that you are important or that
you have the experience they are looking for. It is not until
you actually go and then obviously you see that you do have some
value, but personally I would rather have seen that first. Not
everyone wants to take that risk. When you talk to other people,
they say, "Gosh, you were brave doing that. I'm not sure
I could do that just from a letter like that".
2 Note by Witness: By which I meant MP's Lottery
for time for private members bills. Back