Memorandum by the Welsh Assembly Government
The establishment of the National Assembly for
Wales in 1999 has created new structures of democratic accountability
for those public bodies in Wales which the Welsh Assembly Government
funds. Through the Welsh Assembly Government and the Subject Committees
of the Assembly, new and open processes for setting the policy
framework for, and scrutinising the performance of, public bodies
have become a key element in the governance of Wales.
The main categories of public bodies concerned
are Assembly Sponsored Public Bodies (ASPBs)the equivalent
of NDPBs in Englandand the bodies responsible for managing
the NHS. The performance of these bodies is crucial to the delivery
of the objectives of the Welsh Assembly Government, accounting
for nearly half its budget. It is essential that their boards
have the confidence of Ministers, have the appropriate skills,
experience and diversity and are appointed in a way which carries
the confidence of the public.
The Welsh Assembly Government supports and exercises
the procedures in the Commissioner's Code of Practice on Public
Appointments which ensure that appointments are made on merit
against the job and person specification. A feature of the Welsh
Assembly Government's inclusive approach to government is reflected
in the Assembly's own Code of Practice for Public Appointments.
The involvement of cross-party nominees from the relevant Assembly
Subject Committee in all appointments (either through personal
involvement or by consultation) provides a check against the risk
of political bias and ensures that all parties are involved in
a transparent system.
In line with the Assembly's statutory obligation
to promote equality of opportunity, its Equality of Opportunity
Committee has been investigating how to improve practice in public
appointments. The aim is to achieve applications for public appointments
which are broadly reflective of the Welsh population and which
enable appointments to be made so that public bodies broadly reflect
the communities they serve.
The Committee has received two reports from
A paper from Wendy Morgan on some
of the main issues (such as job definitions, awareness and recruitment,
remuneration, retaining and developing appointees). The broad
proposals of this report were endorsed by the Committee and the
full Assembly. (1)
The summary of a scoping study by
Professor Teresa Rees into what motivates people to take up public
appointments (commissioned in association with the Commissioner
for Public Appointments. (1)
The Committee has also considered an internal
report on a more consistent approach to remuneration of appointees
which reflects the need to address barriers to participation.
The main results have been:
Some immediate improvements to designing
and equality-proofing of forms, advertisements and training for
those involved in appointments.
A drive to achieve a high quality
and consistent process which administrates, records and monitors
the selection procedure and which provides appropriate information
and support for candidates and selection panels.
A draft Action Plan on "Mainstreaming
Equality in Public Appointments"addressing how to
improve the diversity of candidates coming forward and ensuring
the that the boards themselves embrace equality and diversity
in all aspects of their work. The draft Action Plan is currently
subject to consultation. The implementation stage will be underway
by the Summer.
In-depth consultation on and consideration
of the remuneration issues. The consultation phase is complete
and a final report is currently with Ministers.
A revised Code of Practice in draft,
which brings together the existing Assembly Code with the Commissioner
for Public Appointments "revised Code of Practice".
Subject to consultation, it is intended that the revised Code
will be debated by the Assembly in Plenary session in June.
Proposals for the recruitment, training
and management of additional Independent Assessors to scrutinise
public appointments. The intention is that in future Independent
Assessors will be subject to an appointments process, which parallels
a lower tier appointment in the Commissioner's Code.
Proposals for an annual training
programme for Independent Assessors in addition to mandatory induction
The last two years have been about creating
a framework to underpin the drive by the Welsh Assembly Government
towards Wales having a public appointments system which:
meets high standards in the quality
of service which it offers;
meets the tests of transparency,
fairness and appointments made on merit;
reduces barriers to participation
and encourages diversity;
supports the development of boards
which can play their part in responding to the challenges which
The Assembly's Equality of Opportunity Committee
has played a crucial role in developing ideas as have partners
more widely. If the last two years have been about creating the
frameworks we need, the next two will be about making those frameworks
a success on the ground.
(1) Detailed papers on most of this work
are accessible in the Committee on Equality of Opportunity's records
on the Assembly's websitewww.wales.gov.uk.