Memorandum by Professor Howard Thomas
I enclose my personal comments on the issue
of Public Administration for the Select Committee.
These public offices should be filled by nomination
from independent bodies, able to assess the merits of each candidate,
having identified a profile of the person required. The latter
must take into account:
(a) Technical competence and excellence in
(b) Evidence that candidate can work in a
(c) Evidence of integrity.
In the medical field the Royal Colleges, Academy
of Medical Science and Royal Society, are potential sources of
the information. Several views should be obtained to exclude bias
of individuals responding. In many cases, several of the above
institutions will have a competent view.
The selection of lay members is more difficult.
If we are trying to get a "snap shot" of the general
populations view, we should make this "service to the community"
equivalent to "jury service" and use the same system.
This would start to spread the concept of citizenship to additional
areas. When you ask the population to enter their names on the
Electoral Register you might ask whether they would be prepared
to take part in public committees.
Almost as good an election, is unbiased (random
computer based) selection as indicated above. Election would be
The government department who will receive the
advice probably should not be involved in the selection of the
chairman and membership of the committee but should generate the
profile of the people required. The Commissioner for Public appointments
might supervise the selection process.
It would be seen to be independent if a Parliamentary
Commissioner oversaw the process, making recommendations direct
In the Advisory System, political bias is not
acceptable. The executive should influence the process after the
expert advice is delivered.
I do believe an independent appointments commission
would be best. This also protects politicians from unfair allegation
Professor Howard Thomas
Chairman of Advisory Group on Hepatitis,
Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine