Select Committee on Liaison First Report

Annex A: Correspondence between the Chairman and the Minister for the Cabinet Office

Letter from the Minister for the Cabinet Office to the Chairman

The Governance of Britain Green Paper sets out the Government's programme of constitutional renewal. This includes a specific proposal to increase Parliamentary scrutiny of appointments to certain posts by way of pre-appointment hearings with the relevant select committee. In keeping with our commitment in the Green Paper, I am writing to update you on progress and to share with the Committee the list of appointments that we are proposing should be subject to pre-appointment scrutiny.

The format of pre-appointment hearings will broadly follow the process set out in the Green Paper. This will involve the Government's nominee for selected posts giving evidence before the relevant Parliamentary select committee. We expect committee hearings to focus on issues of professional competence. Hearings will be non-binding but Ministers will consider committees' views carefully before deciding whether to proceed with the appointment.

Since publication of the Green Paper, we have consulted widely across Government to identify posts that would be suitable for pre-appointment hearings. In keeping with the principles in the Green Paper, we have focussed on posts which exercise statutory or other powers in relation to protecting the public's rights and interests. We have also considered posts that play a key role in the regulation and administration of the appointments process itself. As a result, the final list comprises senior ombudsmen, HM Chief Inspectors and key regulators. This is also in keeping with a recommendation from the Public Administration Select Committee that pre-appointment scrutiny should focus on "major auditors, ombudsmen and other complaint investigators, regulators and inspectors, and to those responsible for the appointments process itself". A full list of proposed appointments is attached.

As we have developed our proposals, we have listened carefully to the views of key stakeholders, in particular the Commissioner for Public Appointments and the Committee on Standards in Public Life. We are also giving careful consideration to recent reports published by the Treasury Select Committee and the Public Administration Select Committee. As a result, the Government plans to proceed with pre-appointment hearings on a pilot basis. This will involve Departments monitoring closely pre-appointment hearings and seeking feedback from those involved, including from select committees. As we embark on this process, it is essential that it is conducted in such a way that we both enhance the role of Parliament in scrutinising public appointments and maintain an appointments process which is proportionate and continues to attract high quality candidates.

Strengthening the role of Parliament is a key aim of The Governance of Britain Green Paper. I believe the approach I have outlined in this letter will contribute to this by delivering a process which enhances Parliamentary and democratic scrutiny of key public appointments whilst continuing to attract high calibre individuals into public life. I very much welcome the Committee's views on the proposed list.


Chair of the Gas and Electricity Markets Authority (GEMA)

Chair of OFCOM

Chair of the Appointments Commission

Chair of the Care Quality Commission

Chair of the Charity Commission

Chair of the Committee on Standards in Public Life

Chair of the Food Standards Agency

Chair of the Judicial Appointments Commission

Chair of the Office for Legal Complaints

Chair of the Office of Rail Regulation

Chair of the Postal Services Commission

Chair of the Statistics Board

Chair of the Water Service Regulatory Authority (OFWAT)

Chief Fire and Rescue Adviser

Commissioner for Public Appointments

Comptroller and Auditor General

First Civil Service Commissioner

Health Service Commissioner for England (Health Ombudsman)

HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary

HM Chief Inspector of Education, Children's Services and Skills

HM Chief Inspector of Prisons

HM Chief Inspector of Probation

HM Chief Inspector of the CPS

Information Commissioner

Local Commissioners for Administration for England (Local Government Ombudsmen)

Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration (Parliamentary Ombudsman)

Pensions Ombudsman

Pensions Protection Fund Ombudsman

Prison and Probation Ombudsman

Rt Hon Ed Miliband MP

23 January 2008

Letter from the Chairman to the Minister for the Cabinet Office

Thank you for your letter of 23 January which I discussed with colleagues on the Liaison Committee at our meeting on 31 January. We have also reported it to the House and placed it on our website.

Chairmen valued the Government's initiative, but wished to consult their Committees on the detail. At the initial discussion, there were suggestions that further posts should be added to your list. We have agreed to consider the issue more fully at our next meeting on 28 February, after which I shall write again with our fuller reaction to your proposals.

Rt Hon Alan Williams MP

5 February 2008

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