1. Pre-appointment hearings were recommended in the
Liaison's Committee's report Shifting the Balance Sheet: Select
Committees and the Executive published in 2000.
Although the idea was initially rejected by the Government, the
July 2007 Governance of Britain Green Paper contained a
proposal for select committee scrutiny of prospective appointments
in the following terms: "
the hearing would be non-binding,
but in the light of the report from the [relevant select] committee
the Minister would decide whether to proceed. The hearings would
cover issues such as the candidate's suitability for the role,
his or her key priorities, and the process used in selection
2. A list of posts proposed by the Government as
suitable for pre-appointment scrutiny was published by the Liaison
Committee in 2008. A
list of the appointments that come under the aegis of the Ministry
of Justice and the Attorney-General's Office is annexed to this
report (Annex A) and includes the Information Commissioner.
3. On 13 January 2009 the Ministry of Justice announced
Mr Christopher Graham, Director-General of the Advertising Standards
Authority, was its preferred candidate for the post of Information
Commissioner and invited this Committee to report on his suitability
for the role. The Information
Commissioner is the second such appointment within the remit of
the Ministry of Justice that we have scrutinized in line with
the Liaison Committee's interest in extending parliamentary oversight
and accountability of key public appointments; the first was the
Chair of the Office of Legal Complaints.
4. In preparation, we took oral evidence from the
current Information Commissioner, Mr Richard Thomas, on 13 January
2009; and subsequently conducted a pre-appointment hearing with
Mr Graham on 27 January. This evidence, together with relevant
memoranda, is published with this report.