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".
Accordingly, the House of Commons Liaison Committee has published
guidance for committees to ensure that hearings are conducted
appropriately. 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.
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
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
House of Commons Liaison Committee, First Report of Session 2007-08,
Pre-appointment hearing by select committees, HC 384,
p 8-9 Back
Commissioner for Public Appointments, Code of Practice for
Ministerial Appointments to Public Bodies, August 2005 Back