Appointment of the Chair of the Office for Students Contents

3The preferred candidate

Candidate’s background

14.The Government’s preferred candidate is Lord Wharton of Yarm. Lord Wharton was the Chairman of Hume Brophy UK Communications until November 2020. He served as the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for International Development from July 2016 to June 2017 and served as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Communities and Local Government, with responsibility for Local Growth and the Northern Powerhouse from May 2015 until July 2016. Prior to that he worked as a solicitor. He was awarded a life peerage to the House of Lords in September 2020.

15.As part of the application form, he declared he had undertaken political activities in the past five years.5 Lord Wharton’s CV has been included as an appendix.6

16.In the Secretary of State’s view, Lord Wharton “[e]merged as the strongest candidate suitable for the role from a competitive field”.7

Line of questioning

17.In line with the guidance drawn up by the Liaison Committee on the conduct of pre-appointment hearings, our questioning sought to test the professional competence and personal independence of the candidate. The Liaison Committee also observes that a candidate will need to be able to withstand parliamentary and public scrutiny should they take up the post, and that questioning may therefore be robust.8 We questioned Lord Wharton on the following areas:

18.A transcript of the oral evidence is published on the Committee’s website.

The Committee’s views on the suitability of the candidate

19.The Committee held a pre-appointment hearing with the Government’s preferred candidate for Chair of the Office for Students on 2 February 2021. The Committee endorses the appointment of Lord Wharton as Chair of the Office for Students.

5 Appendix 3

6 Appendix 4

7 Appendix 2

8 Liaison Committee, Pre-appointment Hearings, Third Report of Session 2017–19, HC 2307, 19 June 2019

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