Pre-appointment hearing with the Chairman-elect of Ofcom, Dr Colette Bowe - Business and Enterprise Committee Contents


1  Introduction

1.  The July 2007 Green Paper, The Governance of Britain, proposed the introduction of pre-appointment hearings for key public officials in which Parliament has a particularly strong interest. It stated that in each case, it should fall to the relevant Select Committee to conduct the hearing, which should cover "issues such as the candidate's suitability for the role, his or her key priorities, and the process used in selection".[1] Accordingly, the House of Commons Liaison Committee has published guidance for committees to ensure that hearings are conducted appropriately.[2] The outcome of the hearing is non-binding, though the Report from the Committee should inform Ministers' decision-making on whether to proceed. The post of Chairman of Ofcom is one of the positions to which this procedure applies.

2.  Lord Currie of Marylebone has been Chairman of Ofcom since its creation. The Secretaries of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) and Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) are jointly responsible for appointing his successor, the process for which must be conducted in accordance with the Code of Practice for Ministerial Appointments to Public Bodies.[3] The recruitment process was conducted by a company of consultants, Egon Zehnder International, who advertised the post between 14 September and 8 October 2008. Interviews were held in November by a selection panel independent from Ministers.

3.  On 17 December 2008 the Government announced that Dr Colette Bowe had been chosen as Chairman-elect of Ofcom, the independent regulator and competition authority for the communications industries. If her appointment is confirmed, Dr Bowe will take over from Lord Currie following his retirement from Ofcom later in 2009. In accordance with the new process of scrutiny, the Government invited the Business and Enterprise Committee, and the Culture, Media and Sport Committee to hold a joint pre-appointment hearing. This took place on 13 January 2009. We are grateful to Dr Bowe for making herself available to give evidence to the Committees so promptly.

4.  The next section looks briefly at the role of the Chairman of Ofcom. The section after considers the suitability of the candidate.


1   Ministry of Justice, The Governance of Britain, July 2007 Back

2   House of Commons Liaison Committee, First Report of Session 2007-08, Pre-appointment hearing by select committees, HC 384, p 8-9 Back

3   Commissioner for Public Appointments, Code of Practice for Ministerial Appointments to Public Bodies, August 2005 Back


 
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