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
initially rejected by the Government, the Governance of Britain
green paper of 2007 proposed scrutiny of prospective appointments
as follows: "
the hearing would be non-binding, but
in the light of the report from [a] 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
". We note the recent
review of this process by the Liaison Committee.
2. A list of posts proposed by the Government as
suitable for pre-appointment scrutiny was published (without endorsement)
by the Liaison Committee in 2008. The appointments from that list
under the aegis of the Ministry of Justice and the Attorney-General's
Office are set out in Annex A and include HM Chief Inspector of
Prisons. We recommend that our successors, early in the next
Parliament, examine this list against all the public appointments
made by the Ministry of Justice and Attorney General's Office
with a view to making recommendations as to whether any other
post should be included.
3. On 3 March 2010, the Secretary of State for Justice
announced that Mr Nicholas Hardwick, Chairman of the Independent
Police Complaints Commission, was his preferred candidate for
the post of Chief Inspector of Prisons and he invited us to report
on Mr Hardwick's suitability for the role. The Secretary of State
described the process as follows:
The preferred candidate for the post is subject
to scrutiny by Parliamentary select committee prior to appointment.
Such hearings will be non-binding but the Government will consider
the committee's conclusions before deciding whether to proceed
with the appointment.
4. This appointment is the fourth we have scrutinized
under this initiative: the first was the Chair of the Office of
Legal Complaints, then a new Information Commissioner and then
a new Chief Inspector of the Crown Prosecution Service.
5. This request was timely as we had recently published
our findings in relation to: the role of the prison officer (which
involved consideration of the objectives of the use of custody
overall); and "justice reinvestment" (a broader look
at potential contributions to the reduction of offending and re-offending
from preventative measures outside the criminal justice system,
and non-custodial sentences within it, in the light of planned
spending on prison-building).
6. In preparation for the hearing, we took oral evidence
from the current Chief Inspector, Dame Anne Owers DBE, on 2 February
2010 and subsequently conducted a pre-appointment hearing with
Mr Hardwick on 10 March 2010. This evidence is published with
7. The Ministry of Justice submitted the information
supplied to applicants in respect of the role. The background
material is used throughout our report and the person specification
and terms and conditions are summarised in Annex B.
1 Liaison Committee, Second Report, 2009-10, The
work of Committees in Session 2008-09, HC 426 Back
Applicants pack, post of HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, Ministry
of Justice, January 2010 Back
Seventh Report, 2007-08, Appointment of the Chair of the
Office for Legal Complaints, HC 1122; Third Report, 2008-09,
The work of the Information Commissioner: appointment of a
new Commissioner, HC 146; Third Report, 2009-10, Appointment
of HM CPS Chief Inspector, HC 244. Back
Twelfth Report, 2008-09, Role of the Prison Officer, HC361;
and First Report, 2009-10, Cutting crime: the case for justice
reinvestment, HC 94 Back