Pre-appointment hearing with the Government's preferred candidate for Chairman of the BBC Trust - Culture, Media and Sport Committee Contents


3   The candidate: Lord Chris Patten  

Biographical Information

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.

Our Evidence

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 Conservative Party;

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.

Conclusion

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.


 
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