3 The candidate: Lord Chris Patten |
15. Lord Patten was appointed to the House of Lords
in 2005. He is currently the British chair of the UK-India Round
Table, co-chair of the British Council's annual conference in
Italy and co-chair of the Arrabida Conference in Portugal. He
is also the European Advisor to Hutchinson Whampoa and on the
advisory Boards of BP and Bridgepoint, as well as on the board
of Russell Reynolds. He was appointed Chancellor of Oxford University
in 2005. From 1992 to 1997 he was governor of Hong Kong and he
was European Commisssioner for External Relations from 1999 to
2004. He served as Chairman of the Conservative party in 1990.
Previously, he was a Member of Parliament from 1979 until 1992,
joining the Cabinet as Secretary of State for the Environment
in 1989. He began his career as a civil servant and then as Director
of the Conservative Research department from 1974 to 1979.
16. In oral evidence we asked Lord Patten about the
following specific matters:
a) The recruitment process and the role of headhunters;
b) Any relevant expertise that he could bring
to bear on the role;
c) His political independence and role in the
d) Levels of remuneration;
e) His future priorities for the BBC Trust;
f) The relationship between the BBC and the
National Audit Office;
g) The October 2010 licence fee agreement and
its impact on the BBC; and
h) How he saw the future of the BBC.
17. Lord Patten has a large number of significant
responsibilities, particularly his Chancellorship of Oxford University;
his membership of the House of Lords; and his advisory roles in
relation to BP, Bridgepoint and Hutchinson Whampoa. Especially
given the context of Sir Michael Lyons resignation letter, which
suggested that the time needed to effectively carry out the role
was greater than the time available, we were concerned that Lord
Patten would have insufficient time to carry out his role as Chairman
of the BBC Trust. He assured us that the role would be his priority
but we believe that he should further reduce his other commitments
should that become necessary. The Committee will pursue this matter
in future sessions.
18. Although Lord Patten does have strong affiliations
with the Conservative Party, he was able to reassure us that he
was willing and able maintain the independence needed for role
of Chairman of the BBC Trust.
19. The Committee
is also surprised that Lord Patten's knowledge of the BBC's output
on television and radio is limited. However, having questioned
Lord Patten we consider him a suitable candidate for the post,
and we look forward to working with him in the future.