House of Commons Library

Business Appointment Rules

Published Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Ministers and civil servants leaving office are subject to rules regarding appointment in other sectors. These rules, known as the Business Appointment Rules, exist to prevent former civil servants and ministers being able to profit from their knowledge of and contacts within Whitehall, and to prevent any perception of wrongdoing. The rules are administered by the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments.

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The Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (ACoBA) considers applications under the Business Appointment Rules about new jobs for former ministers, senior civil servants and other Crown servants. ACoBA is an advisory non-departmental public body, sponsored by the Cabinet Office. The Membership includes political party nominees and independent members appointed by the Prime Minister. The current chair is Baroness Browning, who took up her post in 2015.

The Business Appointment Rules and ACoBA have been subject to recent scrutiny by the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Select Committee (PACAC), and its predecessor Committee the Public Administration Select Committee (PASC). In January 2012, PASC reported that the system had lost public confidence and needed reform.  They recommended the Advisory Committee should be abolished and replaced with a statutory system of ethics regulation in the UK. The Government rejected the main recommendations. 

This Commons Library Briefing Paper sets out the rules and the role of ACoBA before setting out recent parliamentary scrutiny of the system for considering business appointments.

Commons Briefing papers SN03745

Authors: Lucinda Maer; Atkins; Gail Poulton

Topics: Central government, Civil Service, Ministers

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