1.The Electoral Commission was established by Parliament as a body independent of Government. The Chair of the Electoral Commission and the other Electoral Commissioners are appointed by Her Majesty the Queen, following an Address from the House of Commons. The Speaker’s Committee on the Electoral Commission is required to oversee the procedure for selecting candidates for appointment to the Electoral Commission by section 3 of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000, as amended by the Political Parties and Elections Act 2009. Candidates’ names are put before the House with the agreement of the Speaker.
2.This report provides information about the procedure followed by the Speaker’s Committee during the selection of a candidate to replace Commissioner Toby Hobman. His term of office is due to expire on 31 December 2017. Mr Hobman has been a Commissioner since 2010, serving two terms. We are grateful to Mr Hobman for the contribution he has made to the Electoral Commission since his appointment.
3.Although this is not a Ministerial appointment, the Speaker’s Committee had regard to the Commissioner for Public Appointments’ Code of Practice for Ministerial Appointments to Public Bodies. In order to assist with identifying possible candidates for the post the Committee in February appointed the following independent Panel:
4.As with previous appointments to the Electoral Commission, funding was provided to support the use of recruitment consultants, who were appointed under the House Service’s framework agreement, which was awarded following a competitive tender. The Panel agreed to employ the recruitment consultants Veredus.
5.The Panel considered and noted the role description and person specification which had been agreed between the Commission and Mr Speaker, and agreed to the contents of the recruitment pack. All candidates were required to submit a written application.
6.The post was publicly advertised and the panel approved the text of an advertisement. The panel was advised by Veredus that web-based advertisement, in conjunction with the active search by the consultants, represented the best option to source a strong field. The position was advertised in the following places:
7.The Panel met on 27 September to consider the report from the recruitment consultants and agreed to shortlist five candidates for interview. The interviews took place on 10 October. All candidates were questioned on the same areas relevant to the role. They were assessed as to how they met the essential criteria for the role.
8.The Committee is entirely satisfied that the selection process was rigorous and that the panel discharged its duties conscientiously and with all due regard to the requirements of thoroughness, fairness and propriety. The Committee is grateful to Joanne Place and her fellow panel members.
9.The unanimous view of the panel was that Professor Sir Ian Kennedy should be appointed as an Electoral Commissioner. Sir Ian has been involved in public life for over three decades. He served as the first Chair of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority from 2009 until 2016. Between 2002 and 2009 Sir Ian was Chairman of the Healthcare Commission, which was the first body to regulate the NHS. He has also chaired a number of reviews and inquiries across a spectrum of public life, including an inquiry into xenotransplantation for the Department of Health and Rabies and Quarantine for the then Ministry of Agriculture. The panel’s recommendation was endorsed by the Committee at their meeting in October.
Section 3(2)(b) of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000, as amended, requires that the proposal to appoint (or re-appoint) a member of the Electoral Commission be the subject of consultation with the registered leader of each registered party to which two or more Members of the House of Commons then belong. The Speaker accordingly wrote to the leaders of the qualifying parties on 17 November 2017. Those leaders who responded were content with the proposed appointment. The responses received can be found at Appendix C
10.The Committee invites the House to approve an Address to Her Majesty for the appointment of Professor Sir Ian Kennedy as an Electoral Commissioner for the period from 1 February 2018 to 31 January 2022.
12 December 2017