Appointment of IPSA Board Members Contents

1Appointment of IPSA Board Members

1.The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) was established by the Parliamentary Standards Act 2009. The Chair of the Board of IPSA and other Board Members are appointed by Her Majesty the Queen, following an Address from the House of Commons. The Speaker of the House of Commons is required to select individuals to serve on the Board of IPSA “on merit [and] on the basis of fair and open competition”, and the Speaker’s Committee for IPSA must approve all candidates selected by the Speaker.

2.The Act specifies that, in addition to the Chair, there shall be four Board Members, and that:

a)At least one of the members of IPSA must be a person who has held (but no longer holds) high judicial office (within the meaning of Part 3 of the Constitutional Reform Act 2005 (c.4)).

b)At least one of the members of IPSA must be a person who is qualified under Schedule 3 to the National Audit Act 1983 (c.44) to be an auditor for the National Audit Office.

c)One of the members of IPSA (“the Parliamentary member”) must be a person who has been (but is no longer) a member of the House of Commons.

3.On this occasion, the relevant vacancies on the Board of IPSA were for a former holder of high judicial office and a former Member of the House of Commons.

4.This report provides information about the procedures followed by the Speaker’s Committee during the selection of a candidate to join the IPSA Board.

The Process

5.Although this is not a Ministerial appointment, the Speaker has 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 posts, in September the Speaker appointed the following independent panel:

The panel was asked, in respect of each position, to provide the Speaker with an unranked list of the candidates it considered appointable to the role.

6.It was agreed with the Speaker’s Committee that recruitment consultants would not be engaged for this particular recruitment process. Support for the process was provided by the House of Commons Human Resources team.

7.The panel reviewed the role description and person specification for each post and agreed them with Mr Speaker. The posts were then advertised between 1 and 21 October.

8.Both positions were advertised on the IPSA website and the Cabinet Office Public Appointments site. For the former holder of high judicial office post, the Ministry of Justice, Judicial Office and the Parole Board were asked to draw the attention of interested parties to the vacancy. For the former MP post, the House of Commons HR team sent details to MPs on their records who had stepped down in 2019. The whips’ offices in the House of Commons and the Association of Former MPs were also asked to promote the vacancy.

9.The panel assessed the applications against the criteria for the role and agreed with Mr Speaker that two candidates would be shortlisted for the former holder of high judicial office post and five candidates would be shortlisted for the former Member of the House of Commons post. Interviews with the former judges were held on 11 and 17 October and those with the former MPs on 19 October. In the case of each post, the candidates were all questioned in the same areas relevant to the role. They were assessed as to how they met the essential criteria for the role in question.

10.The Speaker and the Committee are 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. We are grateful to Mark Addison and his fellow panel members.

Preferred candidates

11.Following the interviews, the panel presented Mr Speaker with a list of two candidates it considered appointable to the former holder of high judicial office position, and three candidates it considered appointable to the former Member of the House of Commons position. Mr Speaker and the Speaker’s Committee carefully considered the panel’s report. The Committee agreed with Mr Speaker that Sir Robert Owen should be recommended for re-appointment to the former holder of high judicial office position, and that Helen Jones should be recommended for appointment to the former Member of Parliament position.

The preferred candidate: former holder of high judicial office

12.Sir Robert Owen has served as an IPSA board member since 2016. He was a judge in the Queen’s Bench Division of the High Court, a nominated judge of the Administrative Court and the Presiding Judge of the Western Circuit. He also chaired the Litvinenko Inquiry in 2014-15.

The preferred candidate: former Member of the House of Commons

13.Helen Jones served as the MP for Warrington North from 1997 to 2019. She chaired the House of Commons Petitions Committee from 2015 to 2019 and had previously been an Opposition Spokesperson, senior Government Whip and Parliamentary Private Secretary. Prior to entering the House, she worked as a solicitor, teacher and as a justice and peace officer in the Liverpool Archdiocese.

Conclusion

14.The Committee invites the House to approve an Address to Her Majesty for the appointment of Helen Jones as a member of the Board of IPSA for a period of five years and the re-appointment of Sir Robert Owen for a period of three years.




Published: 14 December 2020 Site information    Accessibility statement