Appointment of Mr Harry Rich as Registrar of Consultant Lobbyists Contents

2The Appointment of the New Registrar

The Vacancy

4.This is a part time post. The Cabinet Office estimate a commitment of 30–40 days a year,2 though it would seem that this is an underestimate: the current Registrar reported that she worked 65.5 days in the 2016–17 reporting year.3 The post is remunerated at £420 per day. The vacancy description described the post as “an important and high profile role with both ministerial and media interest”.4

5.The vacancy description lists the following duties of the Registrar:

6.The required skills and experience were listed as:

The Application Process

7.The post was first advertised between 27 April and 1 June 2018 when eight applications were received. It was then reopened between 11 and 25 June 2018, during which time a further three applications were received.5 Of the eleven applications received, three were from women. One woman was included among the three shortlisted candidates.

8.Final interviews were completed by 23 July 2018.6 The Government announced its nominated candidate on 7 September 2018. The interview panel comprised:

The Government’s Preferred Candidate

9.On 7 September 2018, Chloe Smith MP, Parliamentary Secretary in the Cabinet Office, wrote the Chair of the Committee to notify us that the preferred candidate as the new Registrar is Mr Harry Rich.7 He currently runs a business advisory consultancy. He is also a non-executive member of the Press Recognition Panel and Chair of its Audit and Risk Committee. He is a Governor of the Glasgow School of Art. Mr Rich trained as a solicitor before holding Managing Director roles at a series of SMEs. He is a former Chief Executive of the Royal Institute of British Architects, of the Design Council, and of Enterprise UK. He has sat on the Charter Compliance Panel of the Press Complaints Commission, a number of advisory councils, and on the boards of several charities.

The Pre-Appointment Hearing

10.Our pre-appointment hearing with Mr Rich was held on 13 September 2018. Mr Rich also completed a questionnaire sent to him by the Committee in advance of the hearing.8 The hearing focussed on Mr Rich’s relevant experience, how he intends to balance his role as Registrar with his business and other commitments, and how he intends to approach the role.

11.While the post of Registrar of Consultant Lobbyists is not a high-profile role, we nevertheless attach great importance to the appointment because of the potential controversy around lobbying. On the basis of his evidence to us, we are satisfied that Mr Rich has the personal integrity and professional experience to be appointed as the next Registrar.

12.The Registrar is a corporation sole. As such, there needs to be a Registrar in post for the work of the ORCL to continue: if the term of office of the previous Registrar had ended before a new one was approved, no changes could have been made to the Register, a scenario the Government is understandably anxious to avoid. Yet we were notified of the Government’s preferred candidate only a few days before a recess and Ms White’s tenure would have ended before the House returned. Therefore, we agreed to accelerate the pre-appointment process and we thank Mr Rich for his cooperation in this.

13.The Cabinet Office has not provided the Committee with an explanation for why Mr Rich’s nomination was so delayed. Nor is it clear how they intended to proceed had we not been able to accelerate the hearing or had we failed to endorse Mr Rich’s appointment. This is not acceptable.

14.When he gave evidence to the Committee in June, Oliver Dowden MP, the Minister for Implementation, apologised for the Cabinet Office’s earlier failure to consult the Committee on the selection process for the Registrar, as it is required to do by its own guidance to departments.9 He committed to ensuring that the Cabinet Office improved its procedures to ensure that such failings did not occur again and set out the steps he had taken in a letter to the Committee dated 29 August 2018.10 It is therefore disappointing that, in practice, Mr Dowden’s efforts have evidently yet to have an effect on the Cabinet Office’s own practice. If matters do not improve, the Committee may not be so accommodating in the future.

5 Appendix A

6 Appendix A

7 Appendix A

9 Oral Evidence taken on 3 July 2018 HC 909, Qq 142–155

Published: 17 September 2018