Members present:

Tony Wright, in the Chair
Kevin Brennan
Annette Brooke
Mr Ian Liddell-Grainger
Mr Michael Trend
Mr Anthony D Wright


Examination of Witnesses

MRS BARBARA ROCHE, a Member of the House, Minister of State, MR CHRISTOPHER LESLIE, a Member of the House, Parliamentary Secretary, and MS HELEN GHOSH, Director of the Central Secretariat, Cabinet Office, examined.


  1. Could I call the Committee to order and welcome our witnesses this morning. This is part of our inquiry into public appointments and patronage, although we may stray into other Cabinet Office territory and I cannot guarantee that we shall not. We are delighted to have Barbara Roche, who is the Minister of State, Christopher Leslie, the Parliamentary Secretary, and Helen Ghosh, who is Director of the Central Secretariat. Barbara, did you want to say something by way of introduction?
  2. (Mrs Roche) Thank you very much. I will be brief but if I may set the scene on some of the things you would like to discuss with us - although of course there may be other things that you may want to put to us. Just to say that Chris Leslie and I work in the Cabinet Office supporting the Deputy Prime Minister across the full range of his responsibilities. I know you have already had a copy of the PQ which sets out those duties in some detail. In addition, as Minister for Women and Chair of the relevant Cabinet sub-committee (DAEQ) I hold responsibility for co-ordinating equality across Whitehall, implementing Article 13, and also the co-ordination of cross-cutting equality issues. Chris Leslie oversees in particular the work of the public bodies and public appointments team, which is a branch within the Central Secretariat of the Cabinet Office. We are supported today by Helen Ghosh from the Cabinet Office who is the Director of the government machine for propriety in public bodies and public appointments. Can I also mention to the Committee at this point that today especially I have come armed with reinforcements in that I am accompanied by a number of young women from the Wood Green District Rangers and Hornsey School for Girls. The reason why they are here today is that today is "take our daughters to work" day. It is organised by Girl Guiding UK and also the Guide Association, so it seemed particular appropriate today to bring them along to this Committee and I am certainly on my very best behaviour!

  3. Can I on behalf of the Committee extend a particular welcome to our guests.
  4. (Mrs Roche) The reason why it is absolutely appropriate is because we are trying very much to encourage more diversity and more young women into public life and to do more education in this area. I thought this was a wonderful opportunity.

  5. A little unfair on those of us who have not got daughters.
  6. (Mrs Roche) Indeed. I cannot claim, by the, way parental responsible for them! We do very much welcome the Committee's inquiry. We are very much open to change and new ideas and recommendations in this area. We look forward to your report. Our aim is to see more representation of women and men in public appointments. We also want to see pro rata representation of ethnic minority groups and certainly increased participation of people with disabilities. We want to look at any constraints and any barriers on this. Why is this important? I think it is important because when we look at our public bodies very much I believe that those public bodies are about improving all our public services and it is difficult to argue that our public services can be improved if we do not see all sections of our society there and represented. That goes for different age groups as well. We are pleased about this opportunity. I am in the process of leading a series of seminars across the country which are targeting women with relevant experience gained at a local level and encouraging them to apply for national appointments. So far, as a result of the seminars, as 91 per cent of the women who have attended have said they are more likely to apply. We are now looking to extend the programme to target business women, trade union women and also black and ethnic minority women. As I say, I see this as part of the agenda of public sector reform. What we want to do with public appointments is draw on the best from within the widest and most diverse pool of talent. We believe that this is absolutely essential to good governance.

  7. Thank you very much indeed for that. We will start with some general questions and then we will perhaps come back to the specific areas that you have raised. This inquiry that we are doing concerns patronage and public appointments. "Patronage" is a rather perjorative word but it does get at the idea that these are people appointed by ministers. Why should members of public bodies be appointed by ministers?
  8. (Mrs Roche) It is a good question. I suppose ultimately when you look at the numbers of appointments made - something like over 1,000 bodies and 30,000 appointments - you have to look at what would be the most appropriate system. At the end of the day ministers are accountable for their actions and their responsibilities to Parliament but what is needed is an open and transparent system as to the way in which that appointment system takes place. That is why it is absolutely right that we have the Commissioner who is there to make sure that there is probity and there is an open system. It seems to me that the key thing with this system is that people appreciate what the system is and I think our real difficulty is that people do not know how the system works, how you go through the process, and the qualities that we are looking for. We need to open the whole thing up.

  9. We shall get on to all of that. If for a second I can stay with the big picture before we go into the detail. The reason I asked the question, and in your answer you got into this territory, is that people say that ministers have to do it because they are accountable for these bodies, but ministers are accountable for civil servants but they do not demand the right to appoint civil servants.
  10. (Mrs Roche) No they do not, but we are responsible for the advice that we might give to Parliament as a result of some of the actions that those public bodies take. You have to look to what other sort of system you could possibly have. You have to look at the line of accountability. If you did not have ministerial responsibility at the end of the day then members of the public could quite rightly say, "Here we have public bodies who have a great measure of independence who are operating in a complete vacuum." I think in terms of public reassurance, because vast systems of public money can be spent by these bodies, people do have to know that there is some connection with the electorate. It seems to me that the best connection is, first of all, to ministers and then to Parliament and then of course from Parliament to elected Members of Parliament and then the electorate.

  11. But it would be quite possible for ministers to specify the qualities that they wanted in public appointees but not actually be formally responsible for making the appointments. Just to extend the question, and I know Chris wants to come in, we have done this precisely in relation to the Health Service. We have set up an NHS Appointments Commission to break the link with ministerial appointments because that had seemed to be contaminated. The argument would be if we can do it in one field, why not across the board?
  12. (Mrs Roche) If we look to see what appointments take place, and looking at the appointments I have made in my ministerial career, you are quite right, ministers are there and they are acting within the criteria and they will set the criteria. Ministers certainly do not get into the stage of going out there and saying, "So-and-so would be a suitable person, I know them," that is not the way this works. By the time it gets to ministers it is at the very, very end of the process and names would be put to ministers and by that stage it would have gone through officials who are looking at the final balance. I regard the minister as being a final check in the process and a necessary check, ministers being the body, as I say, that is accountable to Parliament. Chris?

    (Mr Leslie) Barbara's point is right and what you have raised is a pretty big constitutional question about the role of public bodies and where they sit. Sometimes we should not neglect the obvious and the obvious here for me is that a lot of public bodies are exercising functions on behalf of the executive as opposed to the work of the legislature and are therefore accountable to the legislature through ministers in their executive roles. So even with the NHS Appointments Commission the appointments are still ultimately made by ministers who are the vessels where the buck stops ultimately for the actions, the advice and the policy that actually is implemented by those public bodies on behalf of those ministers. That is the constitutional position. To alter that may be possible but then you would have to look at the wider constitutional settlement.

  13. Do you know how much time ministers spend worrying about appointments?
  14. (Mrs Roche) It is a good question. In a sense it is driven by the imperative. A submission will come up. It will depend on the department. From time to time there will be departments which will have a lot of appointments and there will be others which will have very few. I would guess - and this is from my own experience and the anecdotal experience of other ministers - the thing that exercises ministers most (and it is difficult to quantify the time) is the lack of diversity in the list that comes up. There are too few women, too few people from black and ethnic minorities, and a pretty limited age group. That is the thing that exercises people most and that is a common complaint. You will get ministers who say, "There are no women or no black people on the list", and officials will say, "We could not think of anybody in the process", and the ministers will say, "Go back there and try again because we want to see a balance."

  15. There is no reason why an Appointments Commission could not be charged with that responsibility to get that balance but we have explored that. Do you know how many public appointments are outside the orbit of the Commission for Public Appointments?
  16. (Mr Leslie) I think most of public appointments come under the remit of Dame Rennie Fritchie's Commission which is working on enforcing the code. There are a small number of Crown appointments which are vested with the Prime Minister and, again for, historic reasons tend to be made by him. The Archbishop of Canterbury is a classic example. Helen, you might have an idea about specific numbers.

    (Ms Ghosh) I believe it is about half of the total number of appointments that are made. The NDPBs and the Prime Ministerial appointments fall outside the remit of the Commissioner but for the reasons that Chris said.

  17. I do not think that can be right. The NDPB appointments come within the orbit of the Commission.
  18. (Ms Ghosh) Which are at 30,000 appointments. I expressed myself wrongly. About 15,000 appointments of the very specialist kind that Chris describes, for example ecclesiastical appointments, are not within the remit of Commission for Public Appointments.

  19. Just as a way of clarifying things it would be very helpful - and I know it is difficult for you to say just now - if you could let the Committee have a note on those outside and then of course the question would be, when we are talking about a range of Prime Ministerial appointments/prerogative appointments, what is the rationale for having a category of appointments outside the orbit of the person who has been put in charge of making sure the system works well.
  20. (Mrs Roche) I would say history but Chris?

    (Mr Leslie) A lot is history. The short life so far of the existing Commissioner for Public Appointments has been pretty good in its record and it has extended quite rapidly over a large number of appointments. Not all appointments are the same. Some are quasi judicial or tribunal based and they have different criteria, qualifications and processes. We are constantly looking at the scope. We will be looking very shortly at the existing orders covering the role of the Commissioner for Public Appointments. Devolution is an issue we need to start to reflect a little bit more. As those constitutional changes come so too we have got to look at the scope of the work of the Commissioner.

    (Ms Ghosh) As the Minister said, many of those appointments are extremely specialised, regius professors in universities and so on. There would be an issue about the efficiency of pulling them all in under the auspices of the Commissioner.

  21. Any information you can give us will be gratefully received.
  22. (Mrs Roche) We will do that.

  23. Thank you. We are trying to compose a Committee entirely of those with the same name. We have only made progress in one direction so far.
  24. (Mrs Roche) We might have to look at the diversity on that!

    Mr Wright

  25. Taking you back to the question of gender, you mentioned how you have been to some of the regional seminars. What were the main reasons given for women not being able to take up public appointments or not putting themselves forward for public appointments?
  26. (Mrs Roche) Thinking it is not for them. What is fascinating about this is that if you look in most of the regions and you look at local appointments, if you look for example at lay magistrates or you look the local health trusts or school governors, women are extremely well represented at sometimes well over 50 per cent, but that somehow does not translate into national appointments. First of all, sometimes they feel that what is required is technical knowledge that they did not possess. There is a great deal of apprehension, to be absolutely frank, and that is a criticism of the process. There are stories of women who have applied and never had any feedback and that is a major criticism. People not understanding how it works. They think that somehow the central list means that you have access to all the departments and that clearly is not how it works at the moment. Thinking perhaps it is all a bit too London centric. Remuneration is an issue. All of those things can be a barrier. The most interesting thing sometimes is the application form itself. We have changed the application form. At one stage it had a section listed "honours". There is nothing wrong with honours at all but there was an implication that if you did not have an honour perhaps you might not be considered for a public appointment. All of those things.

    (Ms Ghosh) To put a gloss on that, the Department of Transport, Local Government and the Regions recently did some research into precisely this point and, as the Minister said, there is a whole group of issues but probably the ones that came out as top of the list of the reasons why women did not get involved were awareness of the opportunities existing, which of course is part of the object of the regional seminars, but also issues around confidence and whether my competencies fit the model. As well as the series of regional seminars, what we are looking at very closely is how we can more actively make women particularly at the very local level (where, as the Minister said, there is diversity and the figures look good) apply and how do we translate that from the local level up to the regional and smaller national appointments. We think possibly one way we might do that is to give regional offices a more active role in identifying women and people from minority groups at a local level and actively picking them, mentoring them and giving them shadowing opportunities so they both have access to information and they grow their confidence. Also we are well aware that we need to make the availability of opportunities more transparent. We are developing - and again we know it will not necessarily hit the most disadvantaged groups - a much more rational web site sort of system. I think people find the current system of a central register and then individual departmental advertising systems rather untransparent, but to have a central system where, possibly with help from the government office in the regions or local contacts, local women could get access directly to a departmental list under the area of their interest, see the opportunities coming up, hit a button, and get an application form, would be a wonderful way of dealing with this problem of awareness. Awareness came out at top of the list.

  27. Do you find any regional variations?
  28. (Mrs Roche) We are about halfway through. It seems to me from what I understand so far on the feedback that the issues are very, very similar. It is lack of awareness about the process, and it is really getting over the message that serving on a public body can be very rewarding in terms of the contribution that you can make to public life. It also sends to people the message that they have the skills to do it. I do not think there are many regional variations. Things are remarkably constant, as I say, in terms of numbers of women who are active in local life.

  29. I would suggest that perhaps in the public bodies in which I have been involved a large majority of the women would be professional women, whereas in my constituency, for instance, we have a large proportion of people with high benefit dependency at the lower end of the economic scale. They themselves would find an obstacle in terms of what their aspirations are but also one of the important things is ability to travel. It is a very important subject. They may well have to travel to and from places.
  30. (Mrs Roche) That is right and one of the reasons people are put off from applying is that they think that all the bodies will be based in London, which is not the case. Sometimes expenses are available for people and there is no awareness of that. We are trying to do two things. The first thing to say about the seminars is that we aimed the seminars at those women who already have some experience of public life. We are aiming it at people who are perhaps already magistrates or school governors, perhaps very active school governors, or members of local trust boards. So they are active locally but they have not made the leap to national. We want to do something about that fairly immediately. I absolutely agree with you that there is a different programme that we need to encourage about getting more people in their own communities as well in terms of working people to become school governors or to become magistrates. That really is a task. There is a particularly important reason for this. If I look at another side of the work I do in terms of the present government offices or some of the new deals for regeneration programmes, we want very many of those to be community led. They are totally community led. The onus is not on the local authority, it is on the local people who have got control of the monies and therefore we need to encourage more people to come forward and feel that public service is a good thing and, of course, that has to start in schools.

  31. Is there not an argument, taking what Helen has just said, that rather than taking it down to regional level for appointments perhaps there is an argument to take it down to more local levels to people who know the localities, for instance a hospital trust or -
  32. (Mrs Roche) You are quite right, people have seen what we have done and they have said, "We want one in our area." We cannot do it everywhere. There is nothing to stop people using the template that we have come up with or some of the packs and information on ways of doing it, and organising it themselves. We could say this is what we use. This is the method that we have found successful for example in the way in which we have done it. We have had somebody who has been on a public body and shown how they have made it and what they have done. Dame Rennie Fritchie has been very helpful and come along and spoken and given an overview. We have done some case studies. That has proved to be a very helpful template and we have had some good feedback on it. There is no reason at all why we cannot provide a do-it-yourself pack for people to do it which other local bodies may well want to take on.

    (Mr Leslie) We had a useful debate in Westminster Hall on Tuesday. It looked precisely at many of the issues raised here and how we can get greater regional and national diversity as well. A lot of these issues we have got to focus in on a lot more because of the perceptions that you have talked about. What certainly I am interested in, and Barbara I know is interested in, are fairly radical thoughts. I know you are going to produce a report and we want to look at suggestions about how we can engage more with local communities and particularly lower income groups from wider social backgrounds as well. This is exactly what we need, not diversity just for the sake of it but because it enriches the output of the bodies we are talking about.

    (Ms Ghosh) Back to the local point. For example, one issue we might like to explore is whether we can make more use of local strategic partnerships. From my previous experience working on regeneration type projects you get these marvellous local people emerging through things like chairs of tenants at a very, very local level who you know could be stars. Very often they will get involved in things like local strategic partnerships and perhaps that is a way at a local authority level we could harness that kind of local community involvement to make them aware of the opportunities and, as I say, to mentor and shadow and all the kind of things the Minister is describing. That would be a micro climate in which one might try and do that.


  33. There used to be a phrase "ladder of participation".
  34. (Mrs Roche) That is exactly it. We all know from our own constituencies the person in the local church, the parish council, the local organisation for the disabled without whom that bit of the community would not run. Some people are perfectly happy to carry on doing that and that is great, you do not want to take them away. Very often many of those people have transferable skills that you could use and therefore it is providing that ladder of opportunity and progress if people want it, and not everybody will want to do it but some will.

  35. It is about getting people on the ladder and moving them up it if they want to go. If we could see the DTLR evidence that would be extremely useful to us. When Dame Rene came she talked about "pale grey and stale males".
  36. (Mrs Roche) I cannot possibly think who she was talking about!

    Chairman: Most of us here, I am afraid, apart from you. Annette is not one of those.

    Annette Brooke

  37. Thank you, I think, but I am an ambassador for the Guides, to put my credentials forward on those grounds.
  38. (Mrs Roche) I am afraid I stopped at the Brownies. I can exclusively reveal I was a Pixie!

    Chairman: I was expelled from the Boy Scouts.

    Mr Liddell-Grainger: What for?

    Chairman: This is for a private session. Annette, come on.

    Annette Brooke

  39. I did not lead you astray. I think it is a very good initiative that the Girl Guide movement has organised today because it is just the sort of thing we want to have a promotion on. You do not need your own daughter, everybody here could have adopted one. We need to know more about those initiatives. I do not know very much about the seminars but who gets invited and how are they advertised? Could you expand a bit on that.
  40. (Mrs Roche) It is done by invitation but what we do do is consult with people in the regions - the local business community, the local authority, local magistrates, local health boards. This is not targeted at everybody, it is targeted at women who are already in public life in some way. We are looking for something like 100 people to take part because that is where it is workable. It is run over a morning where what we do is there is an overview, some case studies, advice on preparing your CV. We have got the Women's National Commission involved because it is no good running a seminar and leaving it at that, you have to provide some sort of support so we have got a network with the Women's National Commission showing where other posts are coming up as advertised appointments and there is a website. We launched the first one through the good offices of the WI in Abingdon. There are all sorts of partner bodies that we use.

  41. I have a slight concern that there is an element of patronage in who gets invited to these things because you mention local experience and certainly my local experience is that there are some leading women in the area but they tend to hold quite a few positions and they will always be the first people invited to something. How do we break through that?
  42. (Mrs Roche) It is correct to say that we are targeting these, you are absolutely right, because in a sense it is part of this ladder. Given that we have got only something like 34 per cent of women, we have got 4.8 per cent of ethnic minorities, and we have got 1.5 per cent of women from black and ethnic minorities we do need to try and make some sort of step change. The great thing to do would be to say we are going to go for it straightaway but the first bit of the strategy is to look at why is it that you have got all these women involved locally. If you look at the figures they are there as magistrates, they are there as school governors, so why is this not translating into public life? In the short term that is the strategy but there is a wider area of work that we need to do which, as Tony says, is that ladder and then inviting more people. I see these things spreading. You start here and then you go wider.

  43. I agree there is a longer term agenda to really widening participation. Could I ask Christopher a question. I have got a quote which is probably out of context from you from a debate and it is talking about appointments to non-departmental public bodies and task forces and you say that the Government want to keep numbers to a minimum and the five-year review process will look at the fundamental questions, etcetera, etcetera. What progress are you making in reducing the number of these appointments?
  44. (Mr Leslie) I was talking about the number of bodies. In 1997 there were around 1,128 something like that and now we are at about 1,025 so there has been roughly a ten per cent drop in numbers, but sometimes circumstances come along where a particular issue requires greater attention and we may need to look at establishing a public body here and there. We are not being completely inflexible about it but we do want to keep a lid on the vast proliferation of the number of quangos because of wider concerns about the history of the quango state in general. We recognise that public bodies play an important role. They oversee about 25 billion of public expenditure on behalf of ministers, so they are very important, as the appointments to them are very important. That is really where we are with that. I do not know whether you think that is sufficient or not but I think we have always got to keep an eye on the numbers.

  45. Do you have any targets or are you thinking about targets in the context of moving towards regional government in terms of the fact that there might be much more scope for elected bodies given elections in the regions?
  46. (Mr Leslie) We have got a White Paper on Regional Governance coming out shortly. There may be or there may not be issues addressed in that and I would not want to pre-empt it today. Suffice to say if you look at our manifesto commitment on elected regional assemblies ---

  47. I am making the assumption that will happen. My question really is is there a vision that the number of public bodies and appointees would diminish with regional government?
  48. (Mr Leslie) Again, you will have to wait for the White Paper. In general I am not going to get too fixated on trends in numbers other than saying that we need to keep an eye to preventing this massive growth and proliferation of the numbers of public bodies for the reason that I think there is a broadly efficient number for ministers to be able to keep track of and to manage. Certainly we will want to look at those functions that can be done at the regional level and, as has already been said, one of the concerns I have got is making sure we have got much more regional and national diversity reflected on the boards not just at the local and regional level but national strategic boards which are comprised of people reflecting much more all corners of the nation.

  49. I am hoping that there might be more elections and fewer appointments. Is there a role beyond the political parties for encouraging women to go forward for elected positions?
  50. (Mrs Roche) In general terms?

  51. In general terms. Each party is obviously looking at the situation but is there a government leadership role as well to encourage women to put themselves forward for election?
  52. (Mrs Roche) I think it is right to say that the mere fact of bringing in the legislation which allows political parties to use positive measures that are now within the law sends out an extremely strong signal. The important thing about that sort of legislation is that it has all-party support. That does send a very, very powerful signal to people. I think there is an important role that political parties can play. Anybody who is interested in the democratic deficit or in the fact we have low voter turn-out and not so much active participation in conventional politics knows that by encouraging more people to play a role, both in their communities and also to get involved in political parties, you help to re-engage the electorate. That is an incredibly important question and that is why I think the legislation so that political parties are able to do it - and it is totally up to them whether they want to do it - is so powerful.


  53. Just a footnote to one of Annette's questions. All governments love setting up quangos. It is bread and butter to them. Every initiative has a quango attached to it. Is there a mechanism inside government and maybe in the Cabinet Office which tests this aspiration against the need to control?
  54. (Mrs Roche) No but we could have another quango to do that, Tony! To answer you seriously, I am not aware that there is. Chris may be able to tell me. On the other hand, remember that if you do set up such a body given the rules that attest to it, it has to fulfil certain criteria and there will be a cost implications, so that I am sure that will excite the Treasury, as an ex-Treasury Minister. And that is always a good check on those things. There is no overwhelming desire to set up these things because if you do set up a quango that comes with all the rules that that implies. Chris?

    (Mr Leslie) Obviously in the Cabinet Office we try marginally to keep track as well as to oversee departmental wishes to establish public bodies. We publish the annual inventory which hopefully you have found weighing down your brief this morning, which I think has been a useful innovation to have a bigger picture about the whole totality of public bodies. And there are the usual internal government procedures that we go through when departments propose to establish new public bodies. There are ways we can keep a strategic check on these things.

    (Ms Ghosh) In the Cabinet Office in my team, when departments are first thinking about why they are setting up an NDPB, we have a challenging and questioning function. What is it you want to do? Is the NDPB the right way to do it. I assume the department believes that it is the right thing to do. It then goes through the collective discussion Cabinet sub-Committee type route. This whole issue about in particular whether an NDPB in a particular situation is the right model or an agency is the right model or direct delivery by a part of a government department is the right model, is an issue which has been looked at quite closely. Some of you may be aware there has been an agency policy review which has been going on in the Cabinet Office which is likely to be published shortly. That is likely to raise these issues with the focus on delivery and how departments can deliver their PSAs. Departments will begin to look very closely at whether they have got the right mechanism for doing it and whether the kind of structure they have (whether it is an agency or whether it is an NDPB) is the right one? A new focus on PSAs and delivery and how we do it will raise the profile of precisely what the relative roles of all those things are. The landscape may conceivably change.

    (Mrs Roche) My experience in whatever department ministers are in is that you think very, very carefully before you establish a new body because there are so many hoops that you have to go through. There may be other avenues through which you can achieve that same aim.

  55. Who is the guardian? I was not wanting a new body. Is the Cabinet Office not the body that deals with that?
  56. (Mrs Roche) As Helen says, we would certainly know and certainly with the publication it is there and we would be able to say these are the bodies and these are the steps that you must go through, but if you are going to do it I suppose at the end of the day the person who holds the ring is collective government because you would have to get Cabinet government agreement to set up any such body. So we are each other's guardians, if you like.

    Mr Liddell-Grainger

  57. How many people have you personally appointed since you have been in post?
  58. (Mrs Roche) Since I have been a Minister?

  59. Yes?
  60. (Mrs Roche) That is a very very good question.

  61. Roughly?
  62. (Mrs Roche) As a much travelled Minister.

  63. Just take the Cabinet Office.
  64. (Mrs Roche) I do not think I have ---

  65. What about you, Christopher?
  66. (Mrs Roche) Can I just answer the question.

  67. A little more quickly please.
  68. (Mrs Roche) Since I have been at the Cabinet Office with Patricia Hewitt it would have been some of the new commissioners that have come on to the Equal Opportunities Commission.

  69. How many do you think?
  70. (Mrs Roche) About three I should think, perhaps a bit more.

  71. What about you, Christopher?
  72. (Mr Leslie) The broad totality of my esteemed appointments has been the Advisory Committee on Advertising and I think there were about eight of those. We do not have that many public bodies in the Cabinet Office fortunately, or unfortunately, so we do not get that many vacancies coming up.

  73. But you have had 36 since September last year. The reason I am asking is not just to make mischief.
  74. (Mrs Roche) Perish the thought!

  75. It is that you get people in front of you, you look at the CV, and you ask yourself whether or not these people are right. We have gone round this issue slightly. Are you given what their ethnic background is and the suitability of that for the particular post?
  76. (Mr Leslie) I think we do have those details and we also have recommendations from the interview and selection process.

  77. From the Civil Service? They will vet it. Let's take the advertising side, they will say, "This is somebody from an ethnic background, this is why we think they are good - because they will look at whatever dimension." Is it that specific?
  78. (Mr Leslie) No, the advice from officials is always based on the merit of the individual and their ability to do the job. That is the overriding principle. It is a very difficult question if you are asking about how do we square a move towards improving diversity whilst also appointing the best individual for the job. That is a very difficult thing to do when looking at individual appointments in a linear sequence.

  79. That is what you do as ministers. You look at those ones as individuals. You have appointed four between you roughly and there will be a lot more. You have really got to make a decision, sit and think about it, "Do I or do I not. Shall I go against my civil servants?" It is easy with bishops but not so easy with other people. It is much more difficult with somebody you are not quite sure about.
  80. (Mrs Roche) I am not quite sure about that. You must also always remember that by the time it comes to us it is at the end of the process so there will be an earlier time when you have had a discussion with your officials about what criteria you are looking at so you will have come to a view. My view on this is if you are an open and good minister that the discussion that you will have had with your officials will be one of you equally trying to determine the best sort of criteria. It is very rarely that a list is going to come up that you are going to violently disagree with because between you you will have had advice and discussion about the criteria.

  81. As a matter of interest, how does the Prime Minister fare on appointments? How many people has the Prime Minister appointed? It is a rhetorical question because I do not know myself. What is his target like for percentages from women and from ethnic minorities. Do you know the answer to that?
  82. (Mr Leslie) We will have to drop you a note on that.

  83. I am intrigued because the Prime Minister has enormous power of patronage and I am wondering if he is hitting his targets. The Cabinet Office is trying to hit targets.
  84. (Mrs Roche) I assume that quite a lot of these things are done through individual departments. We will do a trawl.

  85. I am thinking of him personally. He has enormous patronage in the Lords and other areas.
  86. (Mrs Roche) The interesting thing about the Lords is the Prime Minister has given up quite a lot of the traditional powers of patronage in the Lords. The interesting thing in recent years about those people who have been appointed peers is that they show a much better range of diversity, particularly on ethnicity, and in that they have a much better record than the Commons I have to say. We can certainly provide you with some information.

    Mr Liddell-Grainger: There is an area I am quite interested in and that is Scotland. You have a Parliament and I notice in this that there is a problem with Scottish.

    Chairman: A problem with Scottish? Could you just elaborate.

    Mr Liddell-Grainger

  87. Scottish appointments. There are too few women, too few disabled people and too many from the central belt. As a Scot I can understand that because I come from the Borders and that has always been a complaint. On that sort of trend - and I will come on to regional assemblies in a minute - how do you get round a problem like that? You cannot dictate to a Scottish Parliament that they have to change but you see there is a problem.
  88. (Mr Leslie) That is devolution. We are here to talk about those issues that come under the ambit of Westminster accountability and Westminster ministers. The Scottish Executive have their own policy and approach and are accountable for their own policies.

  89. There are a lot of things that are not devolved such as foreign policy and defence and under the Ministry of Defence there is an enormous amount of appointments which you keep your beady eye on, I trust, which do come under the Scottish situation. I am not going to talk about Wales because Kevin will do that. There is a Parliament that you have still got to vote appointments into. Are you able to put your model forward?
  90. (Mrs Roche) Where they are devolved responsibilities, as Chris says, that is devolution. One would hope and also one would expect that what the Parliament will do would be perhaps to look at what we are doing. We obviously keep in touch. It may well be that they will perhaps decide to look at some of the same practices we have followed on diversity. We would welcome that, of course we would.

    (Ms Ghosh) Of course Dame Rennie, to whom you have obviously already talked, is fully involved in all the arrangements for setting up the new separate Commissioner for Public Appointments in Scotland. She is fully seized of the importance because she believes so strongly in her own procedures.

  91. That is precisely why I was asking the question. Will you back Dame Rennie? I was hoping you would come up and say, "Yes, we will back Dame Rennie all the way. I want to come on to regional assemblies. I come from the West Country. We are looking for ethnic minorities in Bridgewater and we have not got many and we are stuck. I am a Scot and we have the Cornish so there is not a great deal to choose from. How are you going to build them into regional assemblies, the RDAs, etcetera, which are speaking for vast areas of this country with enormous diversity. If you take the West Country and turn it on its end you get the Scottish borders.
  92. (Mr Leslie) I think you are going to be one of the first in the queue at the Vote Office for the White Paper.

  93. I am and I am also going to be there for the Civil Service Act but I am still waiting.
  94. (Mr Leslie) It will be out in due course, of course. The point you are making, though, is that if there are bodies for which we are responsible -

  95. Very much so.
  96. (Mr Leslie) --- That we try and get the best reflection possible of those people on the ground locally, those communities that are served and using the services of those public bodies. We have got to find a way of reflecting that. I do not know Bridgewater that well. I am sure there are a whole range of different people, dare I say men and women as well in Bridgewater who may be able to serve on public bodies and we should be encouraging them to come forward.

  97. It goes slightly deeper than that. Since you have been very kind and mentioned it, if you look at the West Country, we have Objective 1 and Objective 2 but Objective 1 is purely to Cornwall and there is a real feeling that there are resources going in there and representation from one particular area which is too much for the rest and therefore the rest is being slightly discriminated against because of one particular part of our region. How do you get round that sort of feeling?
  98. (Mrs Roche) It is not easy. I was quite involved in the discussions over structural funds when I was DTI Minister. I negotiated the deal on behalf of the UK. It is difficult whenever you are talking about the regions. Of course you will get different bits of the region which feel they do not get their share of the cake and the trick in this, of course, is to make sure you have processes where you try and involve as many people as possible. I think the RDA in your region has been very successful and has managed to marry quite a lot of these different things together. I completely understand some of the issues there have been.

    Mr Liddell-Grainger: I am not sure that business in the South West would agree with you. I think they feel the bias ---

    Chairman: This possibly takes us slightly beyond our remit, fascinating though it is.

    Mr Liddell-Grainger: To an extent. We are talking about appointments to public bodies.

    Chairman: We are talking about appointments to public bodies.

    Mr Liddell-Grainger

  99. And this is a public body and I am trying to get down to representation and how representation is set. I am not quite sure I have got that. I was flicking through this report and I am confused as to what you are trying to achieve. There is an interesting one here where I did notice in the Cabinet Office in 2005 you are going to have 53.9 per cent of women. Are you discriminating against men in 2005? Is it going to go the other way?
  100. (Mrs Roche) That is our prediction if we added the numbers of women in the WMC and the EOC. We had the Women's National Commission and the EOC and that is our prediction for the way that the figures were going. At the end of the day what we are after very simply is the best people for the job. That is what we expect. What we want to appoint is the best people for the job. The difficulties with our procedures and the lack of awareness means that we do not get the best pool of talent. What the research shows is that they do pretty well in an objective and open process. The problem is because of lack of awareness people do not put their names forward.


  101. Which departments of government are really doing the business on this and which are lagging behind?
  102. (Mrs Roche) Health has done pretty well, has it not?

    (Mr Leslie) A lot of the trends on diversity go from local to regional to national and the local and regional tend to be more diverse. We need to look at those national strategic public bodies. That is where I personally feel the focus for attention should be.

  103. But the bodies that sit under which department are doing better?
  104. (Ms Ghosh) There are these super tables here.

  105. Just give us the verdict.
  106. (Ms Ghosh) Indeed, as the Minister mentioned, the Department of Health does do well with 54 per cent men 46 per cent women for example. That sort of figure reinforces the point that the Minister made earlier that we do comparatively very well where women (in this I particular case) can see a close connection between the situation and the scope of the body. So, for example, National Health Service bodies which will come under that DOH figure will do extremely well. Women see an instant connection and also there is the relative visibility of those bodies locally. Whether this department does well and that department does not so well may to some extent be a function of this very fact of visibility and women wanting to make a difference in areas where they feel they have a role.

  107. Who does badly?
  108. (Ms Ghosh) The Export Credit Guarantees Department does extremely badly.

  109. That is boys' stuff, is it?
  110. (Ms Ghosh) Money - women cannot cope with finance so that must be the answer there! As I say, all these figures are readily available here. The Treasury does not do very well. Perhaps that has got the same problem there.

    (Mr Leslie) I feel I should defend the Treasury.

    (Ms Ghosh) OFTEL does not do terribly well, DEFRA does not do terribly well.

    (Mrs Roche) The Treasury will be noted. Its card is marked!

    (Ms Ghosh) I am only quoting from very publicly available figures and they include ethnic minority and disability figures.

    (Mr Leslie) The point that we were making is do not forget that the Treasury will not have a lot of public bodies that are locally and regionally based. Because they tend to have disproportionately more of the national strategically based bodies they will therefore reflect those same difficulties that most other departments in the country have. For those bodies where the appointments are supposedly seen to be requiring particular qualifications or particular specialisms those are the ones where we need to put more effort into achieving diversity.

    Chairman: Your apologia would have been noted in the right quarters. There will be bells in a minute that will ring twice, if you can just stop talking while the bells ring for the note takers and then we will proceed after. But until they ring, Kevin Brennan.

    Kevin Brennan

  111. I apologise to our guests, the bells do not mean it is the end of the lesson, we have got to carry on after them. I was interested, Barbara, when you spoke earlier on and you said that officials really only get involved with names and things at the end of the process.
  112. (Mrs Roche) Ministers.

  113. Sorry, I beg your pardon, ministers only get involved at the end of the process. I find that quite surprising. In terms of really important public appointments do ministers not have a meeting with officials at the beginning of the process and not just in order to discuss the criteria, as you said earlier on on the record, but also for ministers to perhaps suggest maybe some names?
  114. (Mrs Roche) It can happen.

    (Mr Leslie) It can happen. The point is that because ministers are ultimately accountable to Parliament for the appointments that they make they have, of course, the freedom and ability to look around and pick the best people who they feel are there to do the job, so in certain circumstances they might want to look at general criteria alone, in other circumstances they might want to suggest that people put themselves forward, it is on a case by case basis really.

    (Mrs Roche) It is difficult because so much depends on the appointment that you are talking about. In the main you may be thinking about the criteria. If it is just a thing that is coming up the whole time you may not be looking at criteria at all if it is a regular appointment to a public body where in some cases you will have two or three people retiring and some other people going on, it really may just be at the end of the process. Then you will be looking at not only the three places that you are replacing but what the body looks like with it. Sometimes you will be looking at a mix of experience and new blood coming through.

  115. I just wanted to clarify that point.
  116. (Mrs Roche) It does happen.

  117. I do not think there is anything wrong with it, incidentally. I was surprised when you said that earlier on because I would have assumed that it would happen.
  118. (Mrs Roche) It sometimes does happen but very often a lot of these appointments - I hate to use the word routine because they are doing important things - are fairly routine appointments into numerous important but worthy bodies. Clearly if you are doing something that is new and something quite high profile then you might be looking at it slightly differently. I would say it was the exception rather than the rule but it does happen.

  119. Ten per cent of cases? I am talking about major appointments.
  120. (Ms Ghosh) It would just be a guestimate. Obviously the key thing from our point of view is that wherever the suggestions come from, and when it is a high profile appointment lots of people may know about it and ministers might get suggestions from parliamentary colleagues, in each case there will be an open invitation, that is a key requirement of Dame Rennie's rules, and what we are most interested in is that wherever the initial pool of applicants comes from the right procedures are followed thereafter in terms of making it entirely fair and open.

  121. Obviously things have changed hugely from the days when the Secretary of State for Wales would ring up his mate and ask him to become Chairman of the Welsh Tourist Board and that sort of thing. As I said, I emphasise, I think it is entirely natural that happens and if people said it did not happen I would find it difficult to believe. Is there sufficient protection now within the system to ensure that officials do not simply take that as meaning that that is who the minister wants to appoint?
  122. (Mr Leslie) I think there is and I think Dame Rennie Fritchie as Commissioner for Public Appointments, enforcing her Code of Practice, together with the role of the independent assessors who work in the individual departments are really rigorously making sure that is the case.

  123. So she would know?
  124. (Mr Leslie) She would report if there was any issue.

  125. She would know. The official would actually record the conversation and she would be aware of the fact that a minister had been the one who had initiated that name as a suggestion.
  126. (Mr Leslie) I think that the appointment process is quite clearly set out from those applications that arise to the drawing up of the shortlist, the interview process, to the actual appointment process. The independent assessors and the Commissioner are able to monitor those statements.

    (Mrs Roche) In my experience officials are certainly very well aware of the proprieties and what the process has to be because in a sense they are accountable for their own actions through this process as well. Again, in my experience, so are ministers.

  127. All I am trying to establish is that when that happens, and it does happen and it should happen, is there a procedure by which an official would record the fact that a minister has suggested a particular name, and the name might be suitable, it might not be but it might be suitable, and then later on in the process it is clear where that suggestion has come from so that the Commissioner can actually be aware of how the name was originally suggested?
  128. (Mrs Roche) I suppose it would depend on how that suggestion was made. If it was a sort of "oh, so and so might be interested", that might get recorded in the Private Secretary's note, it might not.

    (Ms Ghosh) The straight answer is there is no formal procedure, as far as I am aware. The whole point is once a person has got in through the door, or rather put in their application, in a sense you would not want them to be flagged up "this is a ministerial case", you would want everybody to be considered on the same flat playing field.

  129. I am not talking about it being on their application, I am talking about when Dame Rennie Fritchie is doing her job of monitoring the propriety and the methods that are used to appoint people to public bodies, would she be aware of that?
  130. (Ms Ghosh) Not necessarily.

    (Mrs Roche) Not necessarily.

  131. Do you think she ought to be in order to do her job?
  132. (Mrs Roche) Certainly if there was a feeling on behalf of the officials or the independent assessors that there had been an impropriety, or even the suggestion, then of course Dame Rennie should be involved. As I understand it, Chris is the expert here, that is how Dame Rennie's relationship with the independent assessors works, is it not, they are her eyes and ears?

    (Mr Leslie) That is right, but ultimately ministers are responsible and accountable for who they appoint and if a minister feels that they want to make a particular appointment then they account to Parliament for that, that is the way the system works.

  133. I am just thinking in terms of complete openness and transparency, which is what we desire, as to whether that piece of information is a relevant one for the Commissioner to consider. I do not know what my opinion is on that, I just wonder what your view is.
  134. (Ms Ghosh) When she does her post hoc audit of the appointment she would have access to all the relevant papers. If it were a case where that was formally recorded obviously she would be able to pick that up. As the Minister said, if the minister happened to say "you might consider so and so, he" she, I hope, "might be the right person", it is so informal that you would not necessarily have a record of it.

  135. We had some interesting evidence last week from Mark Thomas, the comedian, I suppose, cum journalist or whatever, who made an interesting suggestion about some public appointments, that they might be done by some sort of lottery, perhaps we should consider a random selection. I noticed recently with all the economic problems in Argentina they actually had a game show whereby the prize at the end of it was a job rather than money.
  136. (Mrs Roche) The Minister of the Economy.

  137. If you want to get genuine diversity rather than self-selection into these sorts of bodies is not the answer perhaps some sort of random selection, go out there, find them, ask them, train them and pay them?
  138. (Mr Leslie) I watched the Mark Thomas Product on television, bits of it, last night.

  139. I missed it. Did we get on?
  140. (Mr Leslie) You were featured actually.

  141. Thank you, I did not know that.
  142. (Mr Leslie) I noticed the suggestion about a jury style selection. My own view is that that obviously would radically conflict with the principle of appointment on merit, that is getting the best person, the best qualified person, for the job. Obviously there are certain situations with juries where you have a trial by your peers and so on, but if you look at the list of public bodies some of them are very specialist scientific advisory groups and it would be very dubious whether we would be serving the nation well if we selected those at random. I can see the concept involved, that you might increase diversity, but you might also have a detrimental effect on other areas.

  143. What he said to us in evidence last week was that the way he sees it part of the problem with public bodies is everybody comes from a similar background, and you are trying to overcome that with some of the things you have described. He said "They will not share exactly the same points of view but they will have a similar value system. What you want on there are people who do not have those values, who ask the wrong questions, who have to have things explained and who have to start from scratch." Is there not any argument that you can see for, I am not saying appointing whole bodies in that way but for having an element of random selection to bring a little bit of grit into the oyster?
  144. (Mr Leslie) I think there is merit in having lay people on the boards of some of the very specialist committees to serve precisely that purpose, a non-executive director function of asking questions, making sure things are explained in plain English, making sure that the specialists account to those who are non-specialist on those particular boards as part of the dialectic process that goes on in those public bodies. I think you have got to get the balance right and most people in this country would want the best people for the job on some of these particular public bodies.

    (Mrs Roche) I know Dame Rennie was saying, and this may have cropped up in some of the informal seminars that you have had, about the example of some of the lottery bodies with the lottery numbers who had done it and a random selection of people but then interviewed them to see if they fit into some process.

  145. Apparently a barrister won on the lottery and it did not really work.
  146. (Mrs Roche) There is nothing wrong with barristers, they have a role to play in life.

  147. Just to probe one more time on this. Would you consider having some pilots maybe on an element of random selection to some bodies? If we are saying that the qualifications that are needed in order to decide whether somebody is guilty or not guilty of murder is to be a random citizen, that you have sufficient expertise to be chosen at random as a citizen, is it not the case that in order to serve on one of these public bodies you could be a citizen?
  148. (Mr Leslie) But if you are the Advisory Committee on Ancient Wrecks and Monuments and you want to select from the totality of the country at large, I do not know, you have got to look at who you are selecting from amongst. Also the propensity of people to want to get involved is important. Those boards that will want to look at increasing their own diversity will obviously be able to consider for themselves their own composition and make recommendations if they wish to broaden out, if they wish to look at things like this, that is what they have done in the National Lottery situation.

    (Mrs Roche) Just one comment and one observation on that. The point with a jury is an interesting area but what a jury is charged with is not to make a finding on the law but to make a finding on fact as citizens applying some sort of test, it is a finding of fact. What I think we require from appointments on public bodies is to add value. Something that comes out very, very strongly from the seminars from those women who are members of the black and ethnic minorities who have got on to public bodies and have then come along to the seminars to say how they have done it, their advice is you do turn yourself not into the overwhelming expert but being able to ask the searching and the penetrating questions and you do gain experience from being on a public body which may well equip you to get on to a public body which could be more difficult technically, but using those analytical skills that you have acquired from another body you can do that. As a lay representative it allows you to at least put those questions to people who have the technical expertise.


  149. Just very, very quick. Our new friend, Mr Thomas, and this was the main burden of what he said to us, said it is all right having these codes that say all these bodies should have registers of interest and things like that, but in fact when you do a bit of work on it you find that they are not properly reported, it is a bit hit and miss what people report on. Who is monitoring this? He says that you cannot go to Dame Rennie Fritchie because it is not her territory to look at this kind of thing. Do we not need to do a bit better than this to give the public confidence in the system?
  150. (Mr Leslie) I had a look through the evidence that he supplied to you when he appeared before you and I dug out the guidance that we have issued from the Cabinet Office to public bodies about requirements for registration of interests and conflicts of interest. I think it is quite clear that there are requirements for members of public bodies to comply with the law and also to comply with best practice and have those registers kept. Certainly I will want to look a bit more at what we can do to record those efforts made by public bodies to open up their proceedings, to be more transparent about their membership. I think in the next edition of the volume we produce to public bodies I will certainly want to see some level of summary included about transparency and openness.

  151. The point is if people are not doing it, or it is being done imperfectly as the evidence seems to suggest, what happens now? What can you do about it?
  152. (Mr Leslie) I have certainly started to look through the evidence provided and I think we will discuss it with our departmental colleagues who have responsibility for those particular public bodies and look to see whether there are any intractable difficulties. I have not spotted anything earth shattering. We have got to keep bearing down to make sure that we do have open registers and interests, I think that is an important principle, I certainly would not quibble with that.

    Chairman: We have not got time to explore this in greater depth. Michael?

    Mr Trend

  153. The Chairman indicated earlier that we might cover other subjects and I would like to ask the Minister a specific question about a slightly different matter which touches upon her responsibilities. We heard earlier from the Parliamentary Secretary that we were going to have the White Paper on regional government in due course and he smiled.
  154. (Mr Leslie) I smile a lot.

  155. I am sure somewhere at the back of his mind he knows.
  156. (Mrs Roche) Shortly I think the Deputy Prime Minister said yesterday.

  157. If there is a date in the back of his mind there will be a flag going up saying "For God's sake don't say 5 June" and that is the way the Government works, it properly has its own confidential information. I wonder if the Minister heard Mr Blunkett on the Today Programme this morning?
  158. (Mrs Roche) I did not, no.

  159. He was on twice, once around the words he chose to use yesterday, in which I thought he was very robust, but he was also on on the question of a document which has appeared in today's Guardian, a leaked document I suppose, about questions to Lord Rooker in the House of Lords, what Lord Rooker should or should not say. The advice was not to mention a matter which had been very controversial for some Liberal Democrat peers as far as I understand, and I am not an expert on this at all, legislation was involved and clearly the Government was protecting its position. But when given these facts, and David Blunkett clearly knew all about this matter, he chose to attack the civil servant and blamed the civil servant for writing such a silly thing and it was a reprehensible thing to do. In recent times there have been a number of examples of government ministers turning on civil servants who are unable to reply for themselves or defend themselves in specific cases. It may well be in some cases that civil servants are to blame but the previous view that government should not blame individual civil servants appears to be becoming somewhat weaker as time goes on. I wonder if the Minister could at least consider that the government has a responsibility to protect the people who serve the government and not to leave them out to dry in the way that I think the Home Secretary was doing this morning. It is too easy to blame the civil servants.
  160. (Mrs Roche) I think you raise an extremely important subject. I do think that the subject is an important one. I did not hear the interview this morning. I was in my office and, sadly, the only deficiency I can find about the Cabinet Office is that the aerial on my radio is so bad that I can hardly get a reception, but there you go. I do not agree with almost the overall picture that you paint of relationships between officials and civil servants. I understand completely the point that you make that officials are there to serve and cannot answer for themselves. I can only speak from my own experience of a number of different government departments to say that I do not think that this Government could have got off to such a good start as it did in 1997 without the help and support of the Civil Service. I thought it was quite remarkable how they could suddenly implement a programme in the robust and professional manner that they did. Speaking for my ministerial colleagues, we are grateful to them. I think that the system works best when there is confidence and respect on all sides. In my general experience I think that is generally the case.

  161. The point I am trying to make is that any of us who have been at all close to government know what politicians ask for and need and require is notes of what to say, what to say if pushed, what to say if pushed very hard, what not to say, what never to say. That is just grown-up stuff, that is how it works. When a politician is caught out on this, to turn around and casually say the civil servant is reprehensible is too easy. I think there is a tendency in government, modern government, your Government, to do this more than was the case in the past. I can think of other examples but this may not be the relevant occasion to go into them.
  162. (Mrs Roche) I do not think this is the case. I think that generally ministers appreciate the fact that generally speaking there is a whole reform that needs to be done, the whole thing about modernising government, but generally speaking we are extremely well served by our officials.

  163. I would be content if you just heard what I said and would consider if in this case, and perhaps in others, people could be more careful because it does cause a tension.
  164. (Mrs Roche) Of course, Mr Trend, I note what you say.


  165. I have a few more questions. I want just to ask about the question of payment to people on public bodies, which seems to me to be a recurrent issue. We have not really got time to do it properly now but very quick answers would be appreciated. Would it not help first of all if there was more standardisation because this is a completely random situation at the moment as to which bodies you get remuneration on and of what kind? Does this mess not need sorting out?
  166. (Mrs Roche) It certainly came up from the DTLR research.

    (Mr Leslie) We need to be fairly grown up about it and rather than take potshots at appointees to public bodies, who I think do a lot of good work, often on a voluntary basis, we need to recognise if payment needs to be a consideration to enable us to broaden diversity, to particularly engage lower income groups and wider, more diverse social backgrounds then we do need to eventually look at that much more closely. It is too easy to sometimes throw figures around on salaries and remunerations. I do think we need to have a more sophisticated debate about it.

  167. Why do we not just cut through all the target stuff on diversity and say that we should have straight quotas and that there will be equity for men and women? At least all the bodies will know what they have to do to do their job and go out and do it.
  168. (Mrs Roche) If you go for a quota line you then come up against the question of appointment on merit. I think those targets are achievable but what you need to do is put in the positive measures in order to achieve them. I think that is the best way.

  169. Okay. I wanted to get on to a whole lot of other stuff on the Cabinet Office, PSAs, performance targets, external reporting, league tables, but unfortunately we cannot. It has been very kind of you to come along, we have had a very interesting and useful discussion. Thank you for the offers to supply more information to us.

(Mrs Roche) If you would like to come to the seminars we would be very happy to welcome Members of the Committee there.

Chairman: I think we are discussing this as a possibility anyway. We thank you for your invitation. Thank you very much indeed.