Examination of Witnesses(Questions 1200-1213)|
THURSDAY 12 DECEMBER 2002
1200. Do you think the balance on committees
should be more for people who are prepared to say, "Maybe
we have to look at this again"?
(Ms Parkinson) We have done that as well.
1201. You have all looked at it and said, "We
are not sure. We need to chuck this back and think long and hard"?
(Ms Parkinson) Yes. There is the opportunity to do
that and our committee has done that before.
(Mr Freeney) We have a deferring system.
1202. How many times can you defer?
(Mr Freeney) Once, usually.
1203. And then it gets out of time?
(Mr Freeney) Yes. If a project needs to start and
you defer and defer, the project cannot survive.
1204. How many of you buy a lottery ticket every
week? Hands up.
(Mr Gray) Not every week.
1205. It occurred to me that there already is
a system to choose people at random from the lottery itself and
at least those would be people who buy lottery tickets, unless
you agree with the proposition that basically the lottery is a
tax on stupidity and therefore those who buy tickets would not
be qualified to serve. Would it not be a good idea to try to have
people who buy lottery tickets serving on these boards?
(Ms Parkinson) You are reducing it to a small minority
who do buy a ticket every week. I buy them but not every week.
It is a good idea because it gives everybody a chance to have
1206. How many numbers are there in the lottery?
(Ms Parkinson) 49.
1207. If your number on the electoral register
is 50 or above?
(Ms Parkinson) That is right.
(Ms Paraskeva) It is the last two digits of your electoral
(Mr Wainwright) They did discuss this with Camelot
and the idea was that you should choose them randomly through
the Camelot computer but it was not possible.
(Ms Paraskeva) You would not get a properly random
selection. People do not buy lottery tickets to give money to
charity; they buy lottery tickets to win the lottery.
1208. If they win a million quid on the lottery,
they might give a little bit back?
(Ms Parkinson) I would say you were naive.
1209. You were asked, Linda and Martin, whether
you were serving on other quangos at the same time. Do you think
you are more likely to serve on quangos in the future because
of your experience of serving on this one?
(Ms Parkinson) I would like to. Whether I get the
offer is something totally different.
1210. I think you will.
(Mr Gray) The lottery is a very interesting and broad
based quango. If there was something that was specifically of
interest to me, I would, but I would not automatically serve on
1211. Martin, you are hosting this. You are
saying that juries are democratic in virtue but you are selecting
people. You are innovative head hunters.
(Mr Wainwright) You can fine tune. There are different
ways of doing it. Can I quickly mention merit?
1212. We started with De Tocqueville and J.
C. Mill had great democratic views too but what he said was people
who are illiterate cannot vote and people who are bright can have
several votes. That is a winnowing out. You are doing a winnowing
out too because when you have done your lot exercise you look
at these people and say, "Who has the skills?" With
juries you do not. You do not say, "Can they do logical reasoning
or be aware of the difference between good and evil?" You
just take them.
(Mr Freeney) Barristers will argue and get rid of
people on juries.
1213. Not for those reasons.
(Mr Freeney) It is for some reason.
(Mr Wainwright) I think it is meritorious to say,
"Yes" when you are tapped on the shoulder like this.
There is great merit in a wider understanding of day to day issues
rather than having a specialist focus. There is merit in a different
approach, which has been the point made about, "Hang on a
minute", an outsider's view the emperor's new clothes. There
is a great merit in balancing a quango and a balanced quango may
be more meritorious as a quango than a quango made up of individually
meritorious people. The merit of motivation also comes into this
because this is the one shot probably for these people. They probably
will not generally go on to become career quango people. Finally,
the system is meritorious because it spreads active citizenship.
Chairman: Thank you all for coming. It has been
absolutely fascinating and we are very grateful to you for your