Select Committee on Public Administration Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Memorandum by Mr Douglas Alexander MP, Minister of State, Cabinet Office (PAP 65)



  I promised to write further on two matters that arose at the recent evidence session I gave to PASC on 31 October.


  On the first issue, concerning the accountability arrangements for appointments made by the NHS Appointments Commission, I need for completeness, to cover one or two points that have already been made.

  On 1 April 2001 the NHS Appointments Commission was established as a Special Health Authority with delegated power from the Secretary of State for Health to appoint non-executives to Health Authorities, NHS Trusts and Primary Care Trusts. By virtue of this delegation, all appointments made by the NHS Appointments Commission and indeed the Appointments Commission itself, fall within the remit of the Commissioner for Public Appointments. It remains the case that ministers are responsible for the appointments system, albeit that the administration of the process is discharged by the Appointments Commission.

  The responsibility for setting the criteria against which candidates are judged and in setting equal opportunities, goals and objectives remains with the minister. The Commission's remit is set out in the framework document, which can be summarised as follows:

    —  the Commission is charged with recruiting, selecting and appointing people to serve as chairs and non-executive members of NHS Trusts, Primary Care Trusts, Strategic Health Authorities and Care Trusts, and to ensure that individual appointments meet the particular needs of NHS boards;

    —  all appointments made have to be in accordance with the criteria set by the Secretary of State;

    —  the Commission is charged with devising and implementing a recruitment and appointment strategy, which commands the confidence of the public and encourages widespread participation;

    —  it is expected to establish effective lines of communication within the NHS and particularly with Strategic Health Authority chairs and other local chairs;

    —  it is charged with ensuring that adequate training is available to chairs and non-executives both to assist them in their current roles and to help develop them for future positions;

    —  it is required to establish and maintain a programme of annual performance review for all chairs and non-executives.


  The second point you sought clarification about concerned the public appointments (about half) that fall out side the remit of the Commissioner for Public Appointments. As you know, the Commissioner's post was created by the Public Appointments Order in Council in 1995, in response to the Nolan recommendations. The original remit was to regulate appointments made by ministers to Executive NDPBs and NHS bodies, this Government extended the order in 1998 to include ministerial appointments to Advisory NDPBs, public corporations, nationalised industries and the appointment of the utility regulators. The current order in force dates from July 2002, and includes re-appointments as part of the remit. This brings the order up-to-date reflecting current practice rather than necessarily introducing a new initiative.

  Tribunal appointments are the vast majority of the public appointments not cover by the Commissioner for Public Appointments, but of course those made by the Lord Chancellor are regulated by the Commissioner for Judicial Appointments. The tribunal appointments not currently regulated are those made by ministers other than the Lord Chancellor. This was one of the issues raised by Sir Andrew Leggatt in his review of Tribunals. Government is considering Sir Andrew's report and an announcement will be made in due course.

  Additionally the Commissioner's remit does not include appointments of Ombudsmen, or appointments to Taskforces or Boards of Visitors to Penal Establishments. Those with responsibility for selecting individuals to fill these posts and appointments are encouraged to follow the Commissioner's code as best practice.


  The Prime Minister makes a relatively small number of appointments to public bodies and advises The Queen on others. Appointments are generally to executive and advisory non-departmental public bodies and public corporations and fully within the remit of the Commissioner for Public Appointments. Such appointments include, for example, the chair of the Police Complaints Authority or trustees of the museums and galleries, and the Prime Minister makes or recommends such appointments on the advice of departments that handle the selection process.

  The Prime Minister advises The Queen on a number of other Government appointments. Such appointments are generally made on the advice of departments or relevant bodies in the sector concerned and selection follows the standard procedure for selection in that section. The main categories of such appointments are:

    —  Civil Service Appointments, on advice, with selection procedures in line with the guidance provided by the Civil Service Commissioners;

    —  Judicial Appointments and certain appointment to tribunals, generally made on the recommendation of the Lord Chancellor;

    —  Senior Armed Forces appointments, on the recommendation of the Secretary of State for Defence;

    —  a small number of other statutory office holders and commissioners, for example the Commissioner for Public Appointments, made on the advice of the relevant Government Departments.

  The Prime Minister also makes or advises The Queen on a number of other appointments, which as these are not to Government bodies, are also outside the remit of the Commissioner for Public Appointments. These include certain ecclesiastical appointments, scholastic appointments (for example Regius Professors) and certain Parliamentary appointments. The Prime Minister also provides advice on ceremonial and honorary appointments for example, Lord-Lieutenants, the Astronomer Royal and her Honorary Physicians. The Prime Minister gives his advice after consultation with relevant bodies, following the standard procedures for the sector concerned and in line with the principle of selection on merit. Such appointments are made under the Royal Prerogative. A list of Prime Ministerial and appointments made by The Queen is attached.


  There is a final category of appointments that is outwith the remit of the Commissioner. Whilst most appointments to NDPBs are either directly made by ministers, or as in the NHS case made using delegated powers, there are appointments that fall outside this scope. The constitution of some NDPBs reflects the fact that certain organisations should be represented on boards. The selection of the particular representatives is sometimes a matter for the organisation rather than a minister. In these circumstances the public appointment is not then a ministerial appointment. It is possible to have a mixture of appointments in the same NDPB so that the Commissioner regulates those that are made by ministers but not the others. This makes it complicated to document as the NDPB name will be listed on the schedule to the Order in Council, but Commissioner's remit does not apply to each appointment. An example of this is the Police Advisory Board for England and Wales. Appointments are made by ministers for the chair and deputies, with other places, as documented in the board's constitution, going to: Home Office officials; and representatives from the association of Police Authorities, Chief Police Officers of England and Wales, Chief Police officers staff association, Police Superintendents Association and Police Federation. These organisations nominate the appointment through their own selection arrangements, they remain public appointments but ministers do not make them. It would not be appropriate for such appointments to be regulated by the Commissioner.

  During the session we also touched on appointments to the House of Lords' Appointment Commission. I confirm of course that the Prime Minister makes the Commission appointments and those do fall within the OCPA remit.

Douglas Alexander MP


  All posts are chairmanships unless indicated otherwise


  Commissioner for Public Appointments

  Health Service Commissioner for England

  Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration

  British Broadcasting Corporation (Chair, Vice-Chair and Governors)

  Historic Royal Palaces

  Millennium Commission

  Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts (all members)

  Commission for Local Administration

  Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution (all members)

  Criminal Cases Review Commission (all members)

  Independent Police Complaints Commission (new body, currently in shadow form until April 2004)

  Investigatory Powers Tribunal (all members)

  Police Complaints Authority (will be wound up on 31 March 2004 and replaced by Independent Police Complaints Commission)

  Information Commissioner

  First Commissioner and Deputy Commissioners for Judicial Appointments

  Bank of England (Governor, Deputy Governor and members)

  Health Service Commissioner for Wales

  Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales (all members)

  Welsh Local Government Ombudsman

  Welsh Administration Ombudsman Auditor

  Ombudsman for Northern Ireland

  Northern Ireland Commissioner for Complaints

  Comptroller and Auditor General Scottish Parliament

  The Auditor General—Scottish Parliament

  Scottish Information Commissioner

  Scottish Public Service Ombudsmen (2)

  Scottish Commissioner for Public Appointments (Bill currently before the Scottish parliament)

  Commissioner for Children and Young People (Bill to be introduced in December 2002)

  Office of Her Majesty's Painter and Limner in Scotland (lifetime appointment unique to Scotland)

  The Regius Keeper (responsible for day-to-day management of the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh)


  Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland (chair and members)

  National Library of Scotland (chair and members)

  Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (all members)

  Royal Fine Art Commission for Scotland

  Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (all members)


  Advisory Committee on Business Appointments

  Committee on Standards in Public Life (all members)

  Honours Scrutiny Committee (all members)

  House of Lords Appointments Commission (all members)

  Security Commission (all members)

  Security Vetting Appeals Panel (all members)

  Senior Salaries Review Body (all members)

  British Museum (trustees only)

  Imperial War Museum

  Museum of London

  National Gallery

  National Heritage Memorial Fund

  Natural History Museum (trustees only)

  National Maritime Museum

  National Museum of Science and Industry

  National Portrait Gallery (trustees only)

  Tate Gallery (trustees only)

  Victoria and Albert Museum

  Wallace Collection

  Armed Forces Pay Review Body

  School Teachers' Review Body

  Doctors' and Dentists' Review Body

  Nurses, Midwives, Health Visitors and Professions Allied to Medicine Pay Review Body

  Intelligence Services Commissioner

  Interception of Communications Commissioner

  Police Arbitration Tribunal (members)

  Police Negotiating Board (Chair and Deputy)

  Prison Service Pay Review Body for England, Wales and Northern Ireland (all members)

  Surveillance Commissioners (all)

  Women's National Commission

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