Examination of Witnesses (Questions 100-105)|
CBE, MR JOHN
20 FEBRUARY 2008
Q100 Chairman: Is it not the same
Mr Farrar: No, it is not the same
person. My sense of this is that for all the reasons I have said
before about people in this country wanting a national health
service, the route of accountability through national government
is a really important dynamic to remain committed to. We do not
have tax raising powers in the regions and actually our resources
are distributed through Parliament. Where I think the regional
minister aspect comes in is that to have somebody who is looking
across all aspects of government in respect of how it impacts
on the region is incredibly important. Asking this question about
the join between the guys you have here and about what we are
joining up actually contributes to, say, the regional economic
strategy, I see that as being a complementary force, asking questions
about whether we are doing our jobs to join up the resources spent
in health, through local government, through the development agencies.
That dynamic has not been there in the past and it is an important
additional dynamic. I do not think it is an either/or again; I
think it is useful that we are seeking with our ministers in the
health team to get some clarity around this relationship that
they have with the regional ministers with their regional briefs.
That is certainly something that is actually in conversation at
Q101 John Hemming: One of the issues
with regard to accountability is that it means a wide range of
things depending on the circumstances. It can involve control,
hire and fire; it can involve say for a regional strategy that
you need to get the agreement of the regional select committee
to the regional strategy as a sign off. What sort of level of
accountability would you think is reasonable? Is it the lower
level of just answering questions and potentially being influenced
or should you be looking for a regional sign off for regional
strategies or should we say that actually we should give the regional
select committee the power to sack your board?
Mr Korzeniewski: I am not the
accounting officer for the LSC, that is the chief executive, but
I would expect as things develop that there would be an opportunity
for the regional strategy to be in some sense signed off and the
focus for me there would be around the joining up and it would
be around the impact of national policies in different places.
There is a job to be done which would make our work better around
the joining up. I am employed by a national body and I am not
sure I would want to be at risk regionally.
Mr Eakin: I am not sure I have
anything to add to that. It is the same challenge for us, as a
relatively small national body working on a regional basis, how
you get that balance right. That goes back to your question about
accountability to regional minister or to the secretary of state.
I think, given the bulk of our decisions are made on a regional
basis within the national strategic context, we would be keen
to see as much accountability as possible for that to the appropriate
regional body. I do think that is important and I agree with John
that that needs to be linked into wider regional strategies.
Q102 John Hemming: So potentially
a sign off for those regional strategies.
Mr Eakin: Potentially, yes.
Q103 Sir Peter Soulsby: I wonder
if it might be helpful, if you were able, to summarise what you
think might be some of the pitfalls we ought to avoid in whatever
model we adopt. What do you think we ought to be sure not to do?
Mr Korzeniewski: We work nationally,
regionally and locally and that is fine, but occasionally there
are conflicts within that. I think my worry is setting up too
much tension between those levels.
Mr Eakin: As I said earlier, at
sub-regional level there is a real focus; at the regional level
in a big region like the North West that can get dissipated and
if we create a body which is not really relating to the work on
the ground, that would be my worry. It creates another level.
We are still going to work locally, we are still going to work
sub-regionally and we are still going to work nationally and linked
to that, as I mentioned earlier, there is a huge amount of time,
bureaucracy and all of that. Maybe something that is effective
but relatively light on its feet.
Q104 Sir Nicholas Winterton: My question
really goes to Archie Robertson representing the Highways Agency.
Do you feel that your organisation is the least accountable of
all the organisations represented here today because really the
infrastructure of this country is critical to economic performance?
How would you wish to improve not only the scrutiny of what you
do but, in the widest sense, the accountability of what you do
to the people that are affected by what you do?
Mr Robertson: The point about
the national network is that it is used by people to pop down
the road to the grocers, it is used by people to work in the next
region, it is used to move components around and it is used to
support international trade. The part of our work that is new
for us is the way in which we are now engaging I hope positively,
in the regional development agenda, in helping to form a regional
spatial strategy in taking ownership of our bit of the regional
transport strategy and moving that forward. For the most part
we are acting in a supportive role to the leadership of the RDA
and I would hope that the scrutiny and the accountability that
come with that is proportionate to the way in which the issue
of spatial development is being executed.
Q105 Sir Nicholas Winterton: Would
I make representations in respect of Highways Agency matters to
the regional development agency or would I do it to Mr Archie
Mr Robertson: Because I am accountable
for the Highways Agency wherever it operates you would do it to
Chairman: Thank you very much indeed
for taking the time to come and answer our questions and also
for the willingness that you have shown to be open about the gaps
that there are in the accountability and also your willingness
to be prepared to see those gaps filled. I think that you have
given us a clear sense of your lines of accountability nationally
and your lines of accountability down to the local issues within
your region and you have given us an idea about your working between
your partners at regional level. I think you have been helpful
in clarifying in terms of your different agencies the regional
accountability gap. We have explored a bit what the issues would
be around the model that much of that is left for us to do. Perhaps
you could just watch this space and find out what your evidence
has contributed to helping us to propose to make sure that you
have proper accountability for your very, very important work
which is at regional level.
Mr Howarth: I think that last question
was quite a searching question and I do not think people had an
opportunity to answer properly. If anybody has any further thoughts
on what Peter said I would certainly be interested; perhaps you
could submit a note on that.
Chairman: That is a very good point.
Anything that we should not be doing, fear that we might do it
and write to us to suggest that we do not do it. Thank you very
NHS North West and NHS East of England witnesses
(M60) Ev 104