House of Commons Library

Pre-appointment hearings

Published Monday, February 23, 2015

This note sets out the background to the pre-appointment hearings; considers the operation of the hearings to date; and outlines the Liaison Committee’s reports on the issue. It also includes information about some posts where there is greater parliamentary involvement. The appendix sets out the full list of appointments the Government has agreed should be subject to pre-appointment hearings.

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Since June 2008 select committees have routinely held pre-appointment hearings for a number of public appointments. Committees consider the candidate’s professional competence and personal independence, and make a report on the candidate’s suitability for the post. Under these arrangements, first proposed in the Governance of Britain Green Paper in 2007, committees are not able to veto an appointment.

The May 2010 Coalition Agreement stated that the Government would strengthen the powers of Select Committees to scrutinise major public appointments. The Chancellor of the Exchequer agreed to the Treasury Select Committee having a power of veto over appointments to the Office for Budget Responsibility which was created in 2010.

There have been four negative assessments made of Government candidates by select committees. In two of cases the appointment went ahead. In one case, the candidate withdrew and in the other the appointment was not made by the Minister. In an additional case, a candidate withdrew following their pre-appointment hearing but before a report was issued by the Committee.

This note sets out the background to the pre-appointment hearings; considers the operation of the hearings to date; and outlines the Liaison Committee’s reports on the issue. It also includes information about some posts where there is greater parliamentary involvement. The appendix sets out the full list of appointments the Government has agreed should be subject to pre-appointment hearings.

For background information, international comparisons and a discussion of the issues raised by the introduction of pre-appointment hearings, see Library Research Paper 08/39 Parliamentary Involvement in Public Appointments.

Commons Briefing papers SN04387

Author: Lucinda Maer

Topics: Central government, House of Commons, Non-departmental public bodies, Parliament, Public administration

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