Memorandum by the English Tourism Council
The English Tourism Council is a Non-Departmental
Public Body. Its stated mission is to drive forward the quality,
competitiveness and wise growth of England's tourism by providing
intelligence, setting standards, creating partnerships and ensuring
coherence. Its Governing body consists of a Chairman and six Board
The English Tourism Council (ETC) welcomes the
decision of the Public Administration Select Committee to undertake
an inquiry into appointments to public bodies, and would like
to comment on a number of matters that relate to this inquiry.
It firmly believes that the overarching principle of the public
appointments process is to ensure that the right people are able
to become members of these bodies. It believes that the principles
identified by the Nolan Committee still provide the correct basis
for a fair and open process.
The ETC is however concerned that the present
system is a lengthy process, and would recommend the Public Administration
Select Committee (PASC) to consider ways in which the process
could be shortened. A lengthy process introduces too great an
element of uncertainty, both for existing and prospective Board
The ETC acknowledges the comment made by Dame
Rennie Fritchie, Commissioner for Public Appointments for England,
Scotland, Wales and Commissioner for Northern Ireland, in her
oral submission on 7 March 2002 to the PASC. In her submission
she states that "there is nothing wrong with having a great
many people who are willing to give public service come forward".
However the view of the ETC is that such a system inevitably results
in a considerable number of people being disappointed. This disappointment
is further compounded by the fact that there is not the administrative
support to inform each candidate why he or she has not been successful.
The ETC is concerned that the necessity to approach
people who will almost certainly not be successful, risks alienating
committed individuals and may lead to the sort of cynicism that
this inquiry is seeking to address. This is more likely to be
the case for those who already hold senior positions of responsibility
and have given considerable personal thought to how they will
undertake their public responsibilities.
The ETC does not consider that this type of
open competition is necessarily the only way to improve the system.
The best way to ensure that the process is fair, and that those
who are appointed are the most appropriate and are respected by
others is to focus on the skills that are required to undertake
the job. The importance of possessing the appropriate skills needs
to be stressed much more forcefully to those who would like to
serve on public bodies. It is also essential to ensure that, as
appropriate to each organisation, the mix of skill is considered,
so that new members compliment and balance the existing skills
of the Board.
The ETC fully supports the desire to increase
diversity but is emphatic that this must not be at the expense
of quality. If a decision is made to compromise on quality in
order to ensure diversity then it risks bringing the process into
disrepute, and ultimately it does a disservice to the laudable
aim of increasing diversity. What is required is to improve the
search processes to ensure that those who are encouraged to consider
serving on a public body are adequately qualified, and possess
the necessary skills for the job.
The ETC believes that there is more likely to
be confidence in the appointments process if mechanisms to address
Board competency are institutionalised within the system. Board
training is an area that receives little recognised support, yet
it is vital for all well-functioning bodies. The ETC operates
its own full-day formal induction process for newly appointed
Board members, but notes that this is not the case with all public
bodies. In addition a programme of on-going training, as and when
required, should reinforce the induction. This type of professional
approach should help to inspire confidence in the appointments
system, as well as improve competence. The ETC also believes that
a proper appraisal system (preferably 360 degrees) should be in
place for anybody serving on a public body.
The ETC recognises that the issue of remuneration
is important, but doubts whether it would be possible to develop
a system which would address all aspects of this issue. It does
however believe that anybody serving on a public body should receive
remuneration, appropriate to the time commitment and level of
skills/experience required, plus daily approved expenses.
The English Tourism Council welcomes the commitment
of the Public Administration Select Committee to review and improve
the system of appointments to public bodies. I would be happy
to provide any further information if required.