Select Committee on Public Administration Minutes of Evidence

Memorandum by Ivy Cameron (PAP 64)

  I fully support the reforms intended to create fairness and consistency in public appointments and I look forward to exploring the barriers and opportunities with the Select Committee on 12 December.

  However, as in corporate life generally I fear that the new transparent procedures act as a cloak for the old systems in practice, eg:


    (a)  some appointments are openly advertised (albeit in a restricted context) whilst others continue to be a "tap on the shoulder";

    (b)  I suspect that for reasons of "respectability" one or two outsiders are shortlisted, but that recruitment panels continue to clone the "usual suspects";

    (c)  the theoretical end of "buggins turn" has ironically resulted in some competent radical ex-politicians and trade union leaders being excluded from consideration. I suspect because they are judged not to be a safe pair of hands, ie too effective!

    (d)  a small group of "acceptable" minorities are regularly recycled.


  I believe there to be equal pay implications, ie that "mature" white males monopolise the senior well paid appointments whilst women and ethnic minorities generally sit on the low or unpaid bodies, health authorities, boards of governors.


  Whilst independent assessors are trained to be aware of stereotyping and ensure objectivity in the process, other key players are assumed to be inherently objective. I refer specifically to politicians, consultants/head-hunters/senior civil servants. I would suggest from my experience of trade unions and corporate life that this assumption needs to be fundamentally challenged.


  Whilst there is a preponderance of retired and executive level management on public appointments ordinary working people are generally excluded because their employers will not give them paid leave of absence. So, whilst active women and ethnic minority trade unionists and community workers have the required expertise and democratic accountability they are excluded from making an important contribution because they cannot afford to.

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