Supplementary Memorandum by the Transport
and General Workers Union (PAP 3A)
I am very pleased to enclose the T&G's response
to the specific equality questions raised in the Issues and Questions
Paper from the House of Commons Public Administration Select Committee.
Question 13Is there evidence to suggest
that the current system is not attracting applications from the
widest pool of candidates?
Currently women make up only 33% of those serving
on public bodies. Black and ethnic minority people are also under-represented,
as are disable people and young people. In addition, those from
non-professional backgrounds but with relevant skills (such as
trade unionists) are far less likely to apply for a public appointment
than their professional counterparts. This under-representation
is significantly worse amongst higher-level public appointments.
We believe monitoring should take place at every level of the
public appointments process to determine the extent of under-representation
and also how representation relates to seniority of public appointments
and whether or not they are paid. These problems of under-representation
not only have democratic implications for society, but also mean
that public bodies are not drawing upon as wide and diverse a
range of skills and experiences as they might.
Question 14How can greater diversity best
be combined with reassurance that the principle of merit in public
appointments is being upheld?
Far less women apply for public appointments
than do men. Research by the Women's National Commission has shown
that this is to a large extent due to a lack of training, a lack
of confidence and a lack of support services, not that they do
not possess the relevant skills and experience.
The government's recent attempts to increase
women's representation on public bodies through setting targets,
publicising this drive and providing training and mentoring, is
to be welcomed. The recognition of non-traditional career patterns
as equally valid experience is particularly important. However,
many posts are still without remuneration, a fact that is likely
to deter applicants with lower incomes from applying for those
We have also encountered people who would like
to apply for a public appointment, but due to the fact that they
would have problems getting time off work, have not done so. This
is particularly the case with those who work part-time, who are
disproportionately women. We have sometimes found that new technologies
such as teleconferencing can be a way of enabling the participation
of those who might not otherwise be able to. In addition, although
the government is encouraging public bodies to provide expenses,
in particular childcare, this is not currently compulsory, something
we would like to see addressed.
It is vital that the good example the government
has set in bringing forward initiatives to extend the representation
of women be extended to other under-represented people as soon
as possible. Similar research, including the setting of targets
and the provision of resources to tackle identified problems are
crucial to this. In particular, there should be extensive use
of positive action as defined by the amended Race Relations Act.
Question 15Would a more consistent use
of remuneration for members of public bodies help to increase
diversity in their membership? Are there any possible drawbacks
to an increase in the number of remunerated members?
A more consistent use of remuneration would
clearly increase diversity as those from lower incomes (disproportionately
women, black and ethnic minority people, non-professionals, disabled
people and young people) would be more able to afford to give
up their time to serve on a public body. Whilst such increased
remuneration would require a significant increase in resources
allocated to public appointments, this would seem a price worth
paying for a more representative and therefore more effective,
system of public bodies.