Memorandum by the Cabinet Office (PAP
There is a wide range of public bodies. Some
are well known within Parliament and have a high profile in the
media and with the general public. Others are less well-known
but all of them have an impact on the way that citizens live,
whether they are concerned with the delivery or development of
public services or they play a part in helping to define policy
on issues of public concern.
Since 1997 the Government has taken various
steps aimed at promoting awareness of what individual public bodies
do and at making them more open and accountable. Summary information
on all public bodies, including their responsibilities, is set
out in an annual publication, Public Bodies. The latest edition,
Public Bodies 2001, was published in February 2002 and is available
at the Public Bodies website (http://www.quango.gov.uk).
Public Bodies also includes some information
on the people appointed to serve on the bodies concerned, including
their remuneration. While their individual roles may vary widely,
along with the skills, experience and expertise required for the
different appointments concerned, they all have a vital role to
play in ensuring that the body to which they are appointed fulfils
its terms of reference and achieves its objectives. This is perhaps
the most obvious reason why the overriding principle in making
appointments to these bodies is that selection is made on merit.
Clearly, a pre-requisite is that Ministers are in a position to
select the best of all potential candidates when making public
This is why the Government remains committed
to the principle that women and men should hold an equal proportion
of all appointments, and that more appointments should be held
by people from ethnic minority backgrounds and disabled people.
What matters most is what skills and abilities people have and
what qualities they as individuals would be able to bring to the
work of the public body concerned.
Against this background, the Government's initial
views on the Issues raised by the Select Committee and the specific
questions set out in its consultation paper are set out in the
Annex to this Memorandum. However, these are initial views only
and the Government will consider carefully the Committee's eventual
conclusions on the issues it has raised.