Memorandum by NESTA (PAP 53)|
1. What, if anything, is the justification
for such a large number of public offices (around 30,000) being
filled by appointment rather than election?
The cost and complexity of elections.
The need for high levels of specialist knowledge
and experience in many of the posts.
The need for "balanced boards".
However, some recently established bodies (GTC,
ETB) have used elections successfully for some of the seats on
their Council/Board. These have worked well and should be examined
closely for models for the future.
2. What problems might arise if elections
were held for membership of some public bodies, instead of the
current system of appointments?
The danger of "takeover" by lobby
Even greater delays than presently bedevil the
3. Should a public appointment be part
of an individual's civic duty? Would a system similar to jury
service be effective and fair?
It would not be possible to expect individuals
appointed in this way to accept the level of personal responsibility
and accountability expected of NDPB board members.
The variation in requirements between bodies
is so wide-ranging that the load on individuals would be very
unfairly and unevenly distributed.
NDPB Board Members need to have made a conscious
decision to embrace the mission and values of the specific body
concernedthis could not be expected of individuals allocated
as part of "civic duty".
4. What are the main priorities for
improving the system of public appointments-should it for instance
be to extend the range of people involved in bodies, to improve
the effectiveness of the bodies in providing advice or administering
services, or to change the balance so that elected national, regional
or local government has more of a role in public life?
Improving effectiveness in providing advice
and services is the key aim and this would certainly be assisted
by broadening the range of people involved. An extensive programme
to encourage nominations and self-nominations would be highly
5. Government departments publicise
public appointments, assess applications and draw up shortlists
for interview. Independent assessors take part in the process
and appointments are made on merit. Is this a sensible devolution
of power to departments or does it cause problems and create unfairness?
The system makes theoretical sense, but in practice
the register of independent assessors needs substantial expansion
The bodies, themselves, should perhaps play
a more open and active role, for example including in their website
and standard printed information an encouragement to individuals
interested in joining the Board to make contact, with a clearer
system of channelling suggestions from the body to the Government
6. Are there any aspects of the Government's
approach to public appointments which appear to be inconsistent
Not as far as I'm aware.
7. Is there any evidence to suggest
that politicians sometimes play an improper role in the current
public appointments system? What are your main concerns, if any?
No particular concerns, other than the length
of time taken to make an appointment.
8. What part, if any, should politicians
play in the public appointments process?
As at present.
9. Is there any evidence to suggest
that there is political bias in the public appointments process?
Certainly, NESTA has been well-served by this
Secretary of State and her predecessor, with no political bias
10. Is political bias ever acceptable
in the appointments system, for example to correct a political
imbalance accumulated under a previous Government?
Board members should be selected for their experience
and expertise, irrespective of political persuasion.
11. What role if any should Parliament
play in public appointments?
General oversight of processes.
12. Do you believe that an independent
appointments commission should be introduced instead of ministerial
13. Is there evidence to suggest that
the current system is not attracting applications from the widest
pool of candidates?
YesI do think the pool can and should
14. How can greater diversity best be
combined with reassurance that the principle of merit in public
appointments is being upheld?
Quinquennial reviews to include review of make-up
and conduct of Board.
15. Would a more consistent use of remuneration
for members of public bodies help to increase diversity in their
membership? Are there any possible drawbacks to an increase in
the number of remunerated members?
Yesthe time commitment can be significant
and should be recompensed adequately.
16. Is the public appointments process
understood by members of the public and seen to be fair, open,
transparent and easy to travel through?
Probably notgreater public awareness
of the role of NDPB Boards and ways of serving on them would certainly
17. What improvements, if any, should
be made in the way in which advertising or publicising public
appointments are made?
Greater involvement of the Bodies themselves
would help a lot. It needs to be more of a joint responsibility
of the NDPB and the Department.
18. What is your understanding of the
role of the Commissioner for Public Appointments, Dame Rennie
Promoter of good practice.
19. There are a growing number of sometimes
informally-constituted partnership bodies and task forces charged
with carrying out public functions, especially at local level.
Should these bodies be subject to the Commissioner for Public
Appointments' Code of Practice?
20. Are there ways in which the system
of independent assessors for public appointments can be improved?
Constant refreshment and widening of the pool.
21. What is your opinion of the Government's
proposals for future appointments to the House of Lords? Should
it be treated in the same way as other public bodies?
22. Are there any lessons to be learned
by Government departments about the way in which the Scottish
Executive and the National Assembly for Wales approach public
23. The Commissioner for Public Appointments'
remit covers specified Ministerial public appointments and her
Code of Practice, which is based on Nolan principles, sets out
the regulatory framework for these appointments. Should the remit
be extended to all other appointments?
24. What is your opinion of the reforms
recently introduced in the system of appointments to NHS bodies?
25. Should every candidate, even important
people for high level appointments, be asked to complete application
forms and attend interviews in the normal way?