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Parliament to have greater role in appointments process for key public sector posts

Parliament to have greater role in appointments process for key public sector posts

CABINET OFFICE News Release (CAB/057/08) issued by The Government News Network on 2 June 2008

Sixty key public sector appointments will now be subject to increased scrutiny by Parliament, the Government announced today.

In July 2007 the Governance of Britain Green Paper set out the Government's programme of constitutional renewal. This included a commitment to increase democratic scrutiny of public appointments.

Now, in response to the Liaison's Committee report "Pre-appointment Hearings by Select Committees", the Government has re-affirmed this commitment. Following consultation with the committee, the Government has published a list of key posts which will be subject to pre-appointment hearings by Parliamentary select committees.

These include posts which play a key role in protecting the public's rights and interests and where the post-holder needs to show professional independence from Government. Hearings will also be held for posts that play a key role in the appointments process itself.

Among the key posts that will undergo pre-appointment parliamentary scrutiny for the first time are:

* HM Chief Inspector of Education, Children's Services and Skills
* HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary
* HM Chief Inspector of Prisons
* Health Service Commissioner for England
* Chair of the Committee on Standards in Public Life
* Chair of the Food Standards Agency
* Chairs of the utility regulators
* The Information Commissioner

The process will involve Parliamentary select committees taking evidence from the Government's candidates for key positions before they are appointed. In line with the Government's commitment to increasing openness and transparency, these hearings will be held in public and reports of the hearings will be published in full.

Minister for the Cabinet Office Ed Miliband welcomed this increased level of Parliamentary scrutiny and said:

"Pre-appointment hearings by select committees are part of the Government's desire to make the executive more accountable to Parliament. Regulators, Ombudsmen and other public bodies exercise significant power over people's lives and it is right that the appointment of these powerful posts should be subject to scrutiny by Parliament. I hope that hearings for appointments to the sixty key posts will help ensure a high standard of accountability and service to the public."

Notes to editors

1. The Liaison Committee's First Report of Session 2007-2008 "Pre-appointment Hearings by Select Committees" (HC384) was published on 5 March and can be found at http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm/cmliaisn.htm

2. The Government's response to this report including the list of positions to be scrutinised can be found at http://www.parliament.uk/liaisoncom

3. The Public Administration Select Committee also published its Third Report of Session 2007-2008 "Parliament and public appointments: Pre-appointment hearings by select committees (HC152) on 16 January. This, together with the Government's response can be found at http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm/cmpubadm.htm.

4. Following the introduction of pre-appointment hearings on a pilot basis, the Government will want to work with Parliament to assess the success of this new approach and any lessons that can be learned.

5. A pre-appointment hearing has already taken place for the candidate of the post of Chair of the Care Quality Commission. Baroness Young appeared before the Health Select Committee on 8 May and was subsequently recommended for appointment.

Cabinet Office Press Office 22 Whitehall LONDON SW1A 2WH
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