Select Committee on Public Administration Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum by Joy W Fraser (PAP 5)

QUESTIONS ON MINISTERIAL PATRONAGE

General

  1.  I am not able to comment on this.

  2.  I am sure that the public at large would view this as an even more costly option, also:

    —  how would you decide which committees should be elected;

    —  on what criteria would you choose candidates (or would it involve newspaper adverts etc. and then people offering themselves as candidates, with or without, a given number of sponsors) and who would be able to "vote"?

  3.  Public appointments should not be a requirement of an individual's civic duty:

    —  people would be drafted onto committees with little knowledge and less interest in the subject to be addressed;

    —  public resentment about perceived "waste in time and money by government" would increase;

    —  time taken to reach an agreed opinion would increase.

  4.  Main priorities for improving the system:

    —  I am afraid that I do not have sufficient knowledge to comment.

  5.  I cannot think of a fairer option.

  6.  Concerns tend to be generated by media stories of "cronieism".

Political Influence on Appointments

  7.  Press reports sometimes imply that there might be occasions when appointments are "political" and this shows the need for transparency, particularly in the appointments of committee chair.

  8.  Politicians with the support of the Civil Service are probably best placed to have knowledge of suitable appointees, but again the reasons for the choice of candidates should be made more transparent.

  9.  Little evidence of political bias.

  10.  Yes, if a balanced view of either political thinking, gender bias, age, religious affiliation etc. is required, but again the criteria for the selection of members should be "upfront".

  11.  It depends on the nature of the specific committee being formed, but in general, it should be left to the Government.

  12.  No, there are already sufficient independent appointment commissions and this would merely add a further layer and more costs.

Diversity in Public Appointments

  13.  Possibly not, but it is difficult to think of a different system which could appoint a broader selection of people who have the time, commitment and ability to fulfill the roles required.

  14.  I do not know.

  15.  Remunerating members has advantages:

    —  enables people who could not afford to give their time for free to participate,

    —  may broaden the numbers available;

    —  gives added "worth" and "status" to membership, which may encourage participation,

  and also disadvantages:

    —  reduces the value of participation "for participations sake";

    —  devalues other committees where payment is not available.

Public Understanding

  16.  "Joe Public" generally is either indifferent, unaware of the number and work done by most committees and, if aware, is cynical about the whole process.

  17.  The question of advertising public appointments is exceedingly difficult; getting the "ear" of the most "suitable" (however that is to be defined) potential candidates is a subject on which I know I am not competent to comment.

  18.  I have no understanding of her role.

Other Issues

  19.  Yes, the Code of Practice is a reasoned sensible document and no one could disagree with its underlying principles.

  20.  I have no knowledge of these independent assessors.

  21.  I cannot comment on this.

  22.  Again, no comment.

  23.  I see no reason why it should not.

  24.  I have little knowledge of these and, again am therefore not in a position to comment.

  25.  Yes, if the system is to be deemed equitable. The interviews do not need to be protracted but it does focus all concerned on the responsibilities required of the candidate.


 
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