Memorandum by the Home Grown Cereals Authority
(HGCA) (PAP 16)
The responses given below are the views of the
Chairman, Mr Anthony Pike, and the Deputy Chairman, Professor
Christopher Ritsonthe two independent members of the Board
of the HGCA, and are given solely within the context of their
experience as members of the Authority. Similarly the views given
relate primarily to appointments made to the Board of HGCA.
HGCA REMIT AND
The HGCA is an executive NDPB and was established
under the Cereals Marketing Act 1965. Its purpose is to provide
a market information service; sponsor or undertake research work
in home-grown cereals and oilseeds; and to undertake other non-trading
initiatives aimed at improving the production and marketing of
cereals and oilseeds.
HGCA's mission is to improve the production,
the wholesomeness and marketing of UK cereals and oilseeds so
as to increase their competitiveness in UK and overseas markets
in a sustainable manner. The recommendations of the Curry Commission,
which emphasise the appropriateness of whole food chain integration,
substantiate the continued relevance of this remit.
HGCA's remit is tightly defined, and so are
the responsibilities of board members, in being able to represent
the interests of specified parts of the cereal and oilseeds production
and marketing chain. The Chairman and Deputy Chairman have to
be independent and with no pecuniary interests in the cereals
and oilseeds industry. They are appointed following open advertisement,
and interview by a panel with an independent chairperson and subsequent
recommendations to Ministers. Other members of the HGCA Board,
who represent specific sectoral interests, are elected by the
members of their respective trade organisation to their relevant
committees, who in turn nominate individuals to serve on the HGCA
Board. These are interviewed by DEFRA and recommendations are
subsequently made to Ministers.
HGCA is funded totally by the industry which
it is established to serve. No general taxpayer money is involved.
It follows that the main "public", whose confidence,
credibility and understanding it is important to maintain, primarily
consists of all those with a direct interest in the cereals and
oilseeds industry, especially those who are required to pay, a
levy which funds HGCA's programme of activity.
It is important therefore that the process by
which individuals are appointed to the HGCA is sound, practical,
cost-effective, transparent and understandable.
(1) As stated above, HGCA members are elected
by the members of their stakeholder organisations before being
nominated, interviewed and recommendations made to Ministers.
Each member represents a specific part of the grain chain and
this requires his/her having a thorough technical and commercial
knowledge of the associated activities. The advantage of appointment
is that the interviewers can judge the candidates' abilities against
these defined criteria.
(2) For HGCA, the technical competence of
the nominees is all important. The current system has the merit
of involving an element of election by an informed membership
of a trade association, with independent assessment by interview.
As indicated above, HGCA has a specific remit to support the competitiveness
of the different components of the grain chain. Moreover, to our
knowledge, the current system provides confidence, credibility
and effectiveness in HGCA's Board. Recent formal consultation
with HGCA's prime "public" confirms that this is the
(3) No, not for HGCA. A system similar to
jury service would be ineffective in relation to HGCA's requirements
because it is essential that members are capable of fulfilling
their role, which is clearly defined within The Codes of Conduct
within HGCA. As indicated earlier, this requires a high degree
of commercial and technical experience and expertise. The current
system where interviews take place against the defined remit for
the post has to date produced an effective and informed membership.
(4) The current system works well for HGCA
at present. To maintain its effectiveness, a watch needs to be
kept to ensure that the organisations being asked to nominate
candidates are appropriate, and continue to be representative
of the cereals and oilseeds demand chain.
(5) The system outlined causes no problems
and as indicated earlier has delivered competent members for HGCA
and the industry it serves.
(6) To date the Government's dealings and
approaches to HGCA appointments are consistent and clear.
(7) There is no evidence as far as HGCA
is concerned that politicians play an improper role. The work
of HGCA is not political and it follows that the selection process
should not have a political dimension.
(8) None as far as HGCA is concerned, other
than the Minister(s) involved being asked to select from a short
list of candidates.
(9) Not that we are aware of, in relation
(10) No, not in our view.
(11) Parliament's major role should be to
monitor the process and in particular to monitor the performance
of Public Bodies against their greed objectives in the areas or
industries that they support.
(12) No, this would appear to be just another
level of bureaucracy and quite unnecessary. It certainly should
not be considered for Executive NDPBs for which it is important
that the interview panels which make recommendations to Ministers
should be knowledgeable about the work of the Body concerned.
(13) In relation to HGCA, as indicated earlier,
wide pools of potential candidates are accessed by each stakeholder
organisation before the nominations are presented to the appointment
process. In our view, the current process works well.
(14) The maintenance of a rigorous and transparent
appointment procedure, which must be against defined job criteria
and specifications, is the way to ensure that merit in public
appointments is upheld.
(15) Remuneration needs to be kept under
review; it needs to be sufficient to attract the level of candidate
required, but not so high as to be the prime reason for attracting
(16) General public awareness is probably
low but this is not surprising. Amongst HGCA's prime "public"
(the cereals and oilseeds industry) however understanding is at
a much higher level.
(17) Were it felt that improvements were
necessary, DEFRA could make known in respective trade press that
appointments were underway for the specialist Board members. The
two independent appointments (Chairman and Deputy Chairman) are
already advertised in the National Press and are thought to be
(18) In our view, paragraph 6 of "The
Main Issues" in the Issues and Questions paper attached to
the questionnaire, provides an accurate description of this role.
(19) We believe that all public bodies should
be subject to the Commissioner of Public Appointments' Code of
(20) The effectiveness of the system of
independent assessors must surely depend upon first, a clear understanding
of the remit and role of the posts that are being assessed and
second, training in the assessment process.
(21) Our experience with HGCA does not equip
us to comment on this.
(22) Our experience with HGCA does not equip
us to comment on this.
(23) Our experience with HGCA does not equip
us to comment on this.
(24) Our experience with HGCA does not equip
us to comment on this.