Examination of Witnesses(Questions 1160-1179)|
THURSDAY 12 DECEMBER 2002
1160. Martin, you wanted to add to that?
(Mr Gray) Yes. I received a letter. Curiosity is a
marvellous thing when you open some of these letters and there
is something unknown at the end of it and, by nature, I will always
Chairman: You must be a dream for these mail
1161. And time share!
(Mr Gray) Once introduced into the process, it appeared
attractive and I actually felt complimented to a degree. I did
not actually understand that it was literally by a number that
I was chosen, but you find out in due course. At that time the
door has been opened and you can make the decision either to go
to it or not to go to it.
1162. Is it not the case though, Andy, that
at the end of this process you have described, there really was
a selection taking place and you got down to a handful of people
with a few people falling out through self-selection, so there
really was a selection going on? Was it not likely that at the
end of the day you were choosing people who fit, who fit the image,
that you would feel comfortable working with? This is not in any
way a personal comment about Linda or Martin, but they are just
the same as the people who would have put themselves forward in
the ordinary course of events anyway? Can you tell us a bit more
about that final stage of the selection process?
(Mr Freeney) Can I, in contrast, tell you what we
do with the selected ones so then you will see that there is a
difference. In that sense, people who select themselves to apply
to an advert, such as that which we are currently running in the
press in the north-west, for example, will in the main be people
who are interested in the voluntary sector, possibly involved
in the voluntary sector who know what charities are about and
so on, so we attract people who are, as I say, currently in the
know and with them we would go through a series of questions against
which we would have answers and we would want answers from them.
For example, we would insist that they know something about the
voluntary sector. For random people, we would not dream of doing
that, but we would just want them to be interested in doing the
task that is in front of us. The selection of the eight members
is by criteria and it is an interview and members of the committee
and myself will sit on an interview panel, so while there is a
day when they can wander around the office and talk to staff and
look at the processes and so on and so forth of what we are doing
and what the business is, there is still a point where they will
sit in a room with a panel and be interviewed and we will make
a decision, saying, "This is the better of the two candidates"
or the best of the six, as the case may be. So there is a very
formal process. With the randomly selected, we do not do that
at all. We do not have a series of questions other than we are
having now in the sense of a conversation and so on and in the
end some, as I say, will select themselves out because they feel
it is too onerous or because of their work commitments, whatever
the case may be. Then, yes, we are left with half a dozen and
the chair will say to the members and myself, "Who do we
think will fit?" Remember, going back to Sir Sydney's question,
if we are looking for an older person at that stage, and we feel
that the older person has made a good contribution, we may say,
"We are short of an older person" or, "We are short
of a younger person", so somebody of 25, and currently we
have a young person on and she is due to leave next year, so randomly
when a young person comes forward, we would say, "Well, we
will go towards the younger person", so it does depend on
the composition of the committee we are trying to sustain.
1163. Are the key words there not, "Who
do you think will fit?" when you have a core of six people?
The whole thrust of equal opportunities policy in employment and
fair selection processes in employment has been precisely to attack
that problem of choosing people who will fit which has resulted
over the years in choosing white, middle-class, very often male
people, and that is the result of that process, that it ultimately
chooses people who will fit.
(Mr Freeney) It is not a perfect system, but in terms
of minority communities, again if there is somebody in the random
group from a minority community and that is what we are lacking
in terms of representation, that is the person we would want to
go for. Currently we are well represented in terms of my committees,
but if were to do that tomorrow, we have to say, "In the
random, for example, we are going to Bolton to do a random there",
and if we get people from those communities that we would like
to serve and target, then that is the way we would select. Yes,
there is a form of selection other than the IT system I described
to you which is very costly and very long-winded in terms of getting
somebody for three or four years, which is a long commitment for
somebody who has not made a decision.
1164. I understood that this was in two stages.
We have actually heard about the Government's organised roadshows
to attract people to be on quangos, and it occurred to me, hearing
you talking, and I think I could probably address the question
right across the board, but could you make an attractive enough
invitation sent out by lot to actually get a proportion of people
to attend a roadshow to learn about the issue in general? The
way Linda and Martin described it, your letter sounded a bit like
winning the Lottery, whereas this one would not be quite so exciting.
I just throw that to any of you. How would you make the invitation
attractive enough so it is not just the great and the good that
go to the roadshows?
(Ms Parkinson) For me, I would say talk to someone
like me. I was randomly selected and I had no idea what I was
letting myself in for until I went along, so I could tell them
what it is like.
1165. So you would be a good person to have
at the roadshow. What about the current format of the letter to
make it sound attractive enough because you will not even get
them in the first place if you are only going to the roadshow?
(Mr Freeney) I think the letter could be constructed
in the way you suggest to attract people. You have heard from
Martin and Linda why they came forward and I think there are many
people out there who come for the same reason. I know from my
own friends, they say, "I would love to do that", and
so on and currently we are encouraging people to put their names
forward. I have a number of people who have written to me, saying,
"We are interested in joining your committee" because
they have heard about what we are doing, and I am sure my colleagues
in the regions have the same. In terms of the roadshow, yes, we
do have some spin-offs from that and people say, "Yes, I
heard this in the roadshow and I am interested in that",
so I think you could construct a letter to attract as many people
to that sort of a roadshow as possible.
(Ms Paraskeva) You have to make sure that the letter
is personally addressed. The other thing you might need to consider
is people's transport costs because even locally that might be
something which could prevent some people who would really want
to be involved and at least making that offer, I think, demonstrates
the commitment to how people get there, so I think that would
be something very important if you are going to get a wide range
of people, to cost that into it.
1166. Could we perhaps have a copy of the letter
that you do send out to people which says, "Congratulations!
You have not won the Lottery, but. . ."? Could we please
have a copy of that?
(Mr Freeney) Yes.
1167. Could I very briefly ask Linda and Martin,
do you think it would have been helpful if people were actually
offered proper expenses for the day?
(Ms Parkinson) In actual fact I got my expenses back
for the day once I actually got there. It was just reimbursed,
my time and travel, irrespective of whether I had got through
1168. So time as well?
(Ms Parkinson) Yes.
(Mr Freeney) There is a financial loss allowance given
to members who attend on those days and who also attend the committee.
1169. Moving on slightly, I am interested in
this first base because it certainly gets away from just the great
and the good being invited to the roadshow, which we talked about.
If we actually looked at a more widespread use of the Lottery
for different bodies, and I will ask Janet in the first instance,
we have had suggestions that perhaps various quangos could actually
have a scale of the skills which might be required for them, so
could you actually apply the Lottery system to all quangos or
would you actually have to be very specific, do you think, about
the skills which are going to be required?
(Ms Paraskeva) I think given what the by-lot system
does, which is to give you the pool of people from which to select,
whereas there is no reason why you could not apply that in a general
sense to any quango or organisation
1170. Even an NHS trust?
(Ms Paraskeva) Yes, perhaps most particularly an NHS
trust because having sat for eight years as a non-executive on
an NHS trust, I feel sure that there are very many people in the
community who have personal experience of the health system who
would have a significant contribution to make there. Remember,
as I said, that what the whole system is about is getting your
pool to select from, so there is a selection procedure and let's
not kid ourselves that it is just a complete by-lot system, but
what it does is broaden the range of people who have the opportunity.
I am absolutely convinced that if you asked some people personally
to come to a meeting, to come to an interview, it is significantly
different and their reaction is significantly different than just
responding to an advertisement and I just think that out there
in the community people do have skills. They have experience of
education and they have experience of the Health Service. Most
people are involved in jobs which require some kind of decision-making,
some intellectual contribution to their job, they have homes and
they manage budgets, so why should they, therefore, not be consumers
of whatever services it is that they are to receive, representing
the interests of those consumers.
1171. Finally, as a committee, we have been
told by various people who influence the appointments on NHS trusts
that there is a great deal of financial responsibility involved
and we have to understand this. You do not actually think that
should be a deterrent perhaps to choosing one or two trust members
(Ms Paraskeva) No, I do not think so. We traditionally
have gathered until fairly recently people on our committees who
are among the great and the good. We have not necessarily looked
at their experience or their background, how much or how well
they have managed or not managed small or large sums of money.
Frankly, managing a household budget, and I now manage a budget
of £90 million, the same principles apply.
(Ms Parkinson) We are looking maybe at different methods
but at the same principles and what we are talking about is having
confidence in the community and in people's ability to transfer
their skills to a different environment. With the right kind of
support and training there will be very many people from the community
who will be able to make a quite significantly different contribution
to the management of some of our findings.
1172. I am much persuaded and very enthusiastic
about pushing the whole idea forward. We have problems with the
great and the good self-selecting people and other people who
have been involved in public appointments for 30 years or more.
This would find a rich vein of people who have not been on public
bodies. One thing that concerns me is payment. Some public bodies
advertise publicly and you have a vast number of people applying
for an appointment and the money has an impact. How would you
feel about the extent to which people should or should not be
(Mr Wainwright) I have instinctively disliked it but
I was converted during my time on the committee on the grounds
of accessibility. I am not sufficiently knowledgeable about the
lucrative quangos. That is another reason why I am cautious because
it may be that those quangos are not appropriate to extend this
1173. You can get 500 for honorarian, which
is nothing by comparison to 20,000. There is a big difference.
Have you any thoughts?
(Mr Wainwright) I would still be cautious.
1174. Have financial considerations affected
you when you were agreeing to go ahead?
(Ms Parkinson) No. The only thing I was concerned
about was the expense of the travelling. If that was going to
be covered, I could not see a problem. Twice I have had to lose
pay to go to my meetings but I am not really out of pocket. For
people who have to work, that is a help. You would not do it otherwise.
I could not afford to be on the committee without being guaranteed
that I would get paid for it.
1175. Our local council pays £6,000 a year
in expenses and that is quite a significant amount of money. Would
you think there is a case for payment of that amount?
(Ms Parkinson) No. You are working for a charity.
Where is the money going to come from in the end? A charity has
to put a certain amount aside to pay you anyway. Even if it is
coming from the government you cannot keep taking and taking.
1176. Your feelings are very noble but there
are some people who might.
(Ms Parkinson) There always will be. I have had to
lose money to do it but sometimes you have to put that on one
side if you are determined to do something.
(Mr Gray) I did not take payment into consideration
at all. There was not payment when I started. If you are talking
about making substantial payments, the danger is when does it
become something which you want to do because something inside
drives you to do it and it then changes into a chore almost. I
am happy to do it. My commitment to it is reasonable on my time
and I can fit it in with my normal life. Fortunately, my employer
lets me take time to make that commitment. I do not look for any
remuneration but if the job became so large that it started to
take over my life, I may well take a different view.
1177. It is the attitude of people like yourself
that makes a significant difference to the sense of civic duty.
(Ms Parkinson) There are a lot of people like us,
but it is just not getting through to them.
1178. Sadly, some of the great and the good
as they are called have a financial interest.
(Mr Freeney) In terms of the community fund, it is
explained to members that the honorarian financial loss allowance
and expenses all come from our income, which is lottery. The more
we pay in salaries and so on, the less we have in grants. The
board has had to make a decision about a balance in terms of payment.
We are aware that some people are paid 20,000 on various bodies
but people who are attracted to us know that that is not the case.
If we gave £20,000, we would have less for your constituents
and the impact would be enormous in terms of nine regional committees
on which there are in all about 90 people. There is a context
for us which may not be the same for other bodies that you are
1179. Andy, in terms of the community fund,
is there any mechanism for you explaining what you do to other
areas and how you select and so on?
(Mr Freeney) Other areas of the community fund?