Pre-appointment hearing with the Government's preferred candidate for Chair of the Committee on Climate Change - Energy and Climate Change Contents

1  Appointment of the Chair of the Committee on Climate Change

Introduction: Pre-appointment hearings

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] The outcome of the hearing is non-binding, though the Report from the Committee should inform Ministers' decision-making on whether to proceed.

2. In 2011, the Liaison Committee published a Report on pre-appointment hearings which included draft guidance for Committees and Departments on the pre-appointment hearing process. [2]

3. On 5 July 2012 the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change announced that Lord Deben had been chosen to succeed Lord Turner as Chair of the Committee on Climate Change, the Government's advisor on setting and meeting carbon budgets and preparing for the impacts of climate change. The Secretary of State wrote to us on 4 July to invite the Committee to hold a pre-appointment hearing. This took place on 4 September 2012. We are grateful to Lord Deben for making himself available to give evidence to the Committee.

The Committee on Climate Change

4. The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) is an independent, statutory Non-Departmental Public Body established under the Climate Change Act 2008. Its purpose is to advise the UK Government and Devolved Administrations on emissions targets, and to report to Parliament on progress made in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

5. In fulfilling this objective, the Committee's priorities are to:

  • Advise on the appropriate level of the UK's carbon budgets and steps required to meet them. The budgets define the maximum level of CO2 and other greenhouse gases which the UK can emit in each 5 year budget period, beginning with 2008-12.
  • Monitor progress towards meeting carbon budgets and recommending actions to keep budgets on track.
  • Advise as requested on Devolved Administration carbon targets and strategies, and progress towards reducing emissions.
  • Conduct independent analysis into climate change science, economics and policy and advising the Government as requested by the sponsors.
  • Advise on the preparation of the UK Climate Change Risk Assessment and monitoring implementation of the UK Government's National Adaptation Programme.
  • Engage with a wide range of organisations and individuals to share evidence and analysis.

6. The Committee provides increased transparency, accountability and independence, operating at arm's length from the UK Government and the Devolved Administrations, reporting annually to the UK Parliament and the respective Devolved Administrations on the progress being made by the UK towards meeting carbon budgets and targets.

7. The Committee currently comprises seven members: a chair and six independent members. The Committee employs a Chief Executive and a Secretariat of around 34 staff to provide analytical and corporate support and operates with an annual budget of around £4m. It is jointly-sponsored by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), the Northern Ireland Executive, the Scottish Government and the Welsh Government.

8. The Adaptation Sub-Committee of the Committee was also established under the Climate Change Act to advise the UK Government and Devolved Administrations and reports to Parliament on preparedness for climate change in the UK. The Chair of the Adaptation Sub-Committee sits on the main Committee and it is jointly-sponsored by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Scottish Government, the Welsh Government and the Northern Ireland Executive.

The role of the Chair of the Committee on Climate Change

9. The overall purpose of the job, as described in the information pack made available to prospective applicants for the post of Chair, is to "be responsible for steering and developing the overall work of the Committee on Climate Change, while the Chief Executive manages the day to day running of the body. […] He or she will also represent the Committee and promote its strategy and overall direction".[3] The Chair will be the figurehead of the Committee. Key responsibilities will include:

  • Chairing meetings and determining procedures for the Committee;
  • Providing excellent vision and leadership;
  • Being responsible for fulfilling the Committee's functions as set out in the Climate Change Act including presenting reports to Ministers, UK Parliament and the respective Devolved Administrations;
  • Overseeing the work of the Chief Executive providing appropriate support ensuring appropriate management and governance within the organisation;
  • Representing the Committee externally and fostering close working relationships with key experts, including academics, business as well as foreign governments and intergovernmental institutions.[4]

10. In the information sent to candidates, the Government stated that the position would require the following skills and experience:

  • A track record of achieving results and providing strategic vision to lead a high-profile public organisation;
  • An exceptional ability to communicate and build relationships at all levels alongside strong interpersonal skills, including the ability to negotiate, persuade and influence;
  • The stature and capacity to provide independent and pragmatic advice to Ministers and a track record of dealing with senior representatives of academic, NGO and business sectors, the media, and with policy-makers in central government and internationally;
  • Expert ability to process and interpret complex information; well-developed analytical reasoning skills and judgment, and the ability to provide intellectual leadership and demonstrate a creative and pro-active approach to problem solving and a high level of professionalism;
  • Ability to ensure that the organisation's financial dealings are prudently and systematically accounted for, audited and publicly available; and
  • A commitment to work according to Nolan's seven principles of public life: selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership.
  • Expertise in specific areas: Candidates should be able to demonstrate a good knowledge of the range of the Committee's work and an understanding of applied economics and climate change policy. (The Committee's work covers business competitiveness, climate change policy, in particular its special impacts, climate science, economic analysis and forecasting, emissions trading, energy production and supply, financial investment and technology development and diffusion.)[5]

The recruitment process

11. DECC informed us that the recruitment process was as follows:

  • The advert was placed on 21 December 2011 on the Sunday Times online, Executive Appointments online, the Economist online, Cabinet Office public appointments, DECC, CCC and Scottish Executive websites as well as Odgers Berndtson online with a closing date of 22 January 2012 . The candidate brief and advert were drawn up in consultation with the CCC and colleagues in the devolved administrations.
  • Ahead of the deadline for applications, Odgers Berndtson approached a number of people who were considered to be a good match with the requirements of the role and were invited to apply.
  • The selection panel for the appointment was chaired by Moira Wallace (Permanent Secretary, DECC). Tera Allas (BIS), Sir John Beddington (Chief Scientist), Clive Bates (Welsh Government) and Sheila Drew Smith (Office of the Comissioner for Public Appointments Independent Assessor) sat alongside.
  • The panel met twice: for a long list and a short list meeting. Seven candidates were placed on the long list from 12 applications. Following discussions held by the executive search company with these applicants, and based on the required skills and experience set out in the application pack, the panel agreed that four candidates should be shortlisted and invited to interview on 27 February 2012. One candidate withdrew from the process ahead of the interview.
  • At interview, each candidate was assessed against the qualities and experience required for the role which was set out in the candidate brief.
  • The panel considered two candidates to be appointable. The Climate Change Act 2008 specifies that the appointment of the CCC Chair and its Members are made jointly by the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change and Ministers in the devolved administrations. As such, the candidates were put to Ministers for their decision.
  • Ministers agreed that Lord Deben was their preferred candidate. The Prime Minister was informed of the decision and Lord Deben's name was put forward to the Energy and Climate Change Committee for pre-appointment scrutiny.

The preferred candidate: The Rt Hon John Gummer, Lord Deben PC


12. Lord Deben is President of GLOBE International (The Global Legislators Organisation, which seeks ambitious political leadership on issues of climate and energy security, land-use change and ecosystems). He also currently holds a number of Non-executive Director positions, is Chairman of several companies and is a Trustee of several charities. A list of Lord Deben's registered interests at the time of the hearing is provided in Annex 4.

13. Lord Deben was a Member of Parliament until 2010. He served as Secretary of State for the Environment from 1993-1997 and was Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food between 1989-1993. He was twice awarded the title "Parliamentarian who did most for the environment internationally" by the BBC as well as being described as "the best Environment Secretary we've ever had" by Friends of the Earth.

14. Lord Deben was Chairman of David Cameron's Quality of Life Commission, as well as Chairman of the Oxford Commission for Sustainable Consumption. For seven years he chaired the Marine Stewardship Council and he writes regularly on environmental and planning issues.

15. Lord Deben was educated at King's School Rochester and Selwyn College Cambridge where he was President of the Cambridge Union.


16. In line with the guidance produced by the Liaison Committee on the conduct of pre-appointment hearings, our questioning was intended to test the candidate's professional competence and personal independence. In particular, we asked about the following specific matters:

  • His vision for the CCC and ambitions for the post;
  • Real or perceived conflicts of interest in relation to posts currently held and party political connections;
  • His understanding of challenges on the horizon for the CCC and how he intends to tackle them;
  • His understanding of the work of the CCC to date; and
  • His experience in the world of business and ability to communicate with stakeholders in the sector.

A transcript of our cross-examination is published with this report.

The Committee's view on the suitability of the candidate

17. Lord Deben has demonstrated a longstanding commitment to the environmental agenda and has had a distinguished career in this area. He has been Secretary of State for the Environment, led the Quality of Life Commission, is currently President of GLOBE International, and has had extensive involvement with environmental bodies. During his evidence to us, Lord Deben also highlighted his business credentials which he is confident will enable him to command confidence and engage effectively with the business community.

18. In our questioning we sought reassurance about a possible perceived conflict between Lord Deben's personal financial interests and his prospective role as Chair of the Committee on Climate Change. We note that potential conflicts were assessed according to the 2009 guidelines from the Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments.[6] Lord Deben informed us that he had discussed these with the Department of Energy and Climate Change and the Cabinet Office, and would be taking appropriate steps to ensure that any conflicts were removed. We accepted Lord Deben's reassurances, in correspondence with us and during the hearing, that he will relinquish all relevant financial interests on taking up his appointment. We were further reassured that his political affiliation would not affect the independence of the Committee's work.

19. We are satisfied that Lord Deben is a suitable candidate to chair the Committee on Climate Change and recommend that he be appointed to this position. We look forward to maintaining a good working relationship with the Committee on Climate Change, and wish Lord Deben well in his new post.

1   Ministry of Justice, The Governance of Britain (Cm 7170), July 2007 Back

2   Liaison Committee, First Report of Session 2010-12, Select Committees and Public Appointments, HC 830


3   Briefing pack made available to prospective applicants for the post of Chair of the Committee on Climate Change Back

4   As above. Back

5   As above. Back

6   Letter from Ed Davey MP, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, September 2012, published as Annex 1 Back

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© Parliamentary copyright 2012
Prepared 10 September 2012