Examination of Witness (Questions 520-539)|
THURSDAY 25 APRIL 2002
520. Can you tell the geographical spread of
the e-mails you get? Is there any specific area which is more
vocal, such as London and the South East?
(Ms Glover) There are large pockets of the UK where
are AM coverage is not very good, so the North East of England
suffers hugely. It is very hard to tell from the e-mails but we
definitely have a big South East audience late at night, and certainly
Liverpool and across the Midlands, and we do get a lot of calls
from Scotland after midnight too, but it is very difficult to
tell, it does depend on the topic.
521. I was wondering whether some of this is
based on where you are. If you are in the slightly more affluent
South East, you may feel, "I have a bit more time, a bit
more money, maybe I can do this", whereas if you are in,
say, Liverpool, just as an example, you may not be quite as well
off and you may be thinking, "Can I really afford to do this".
Do you think there is, not a class stigma but a financial stigma,
which is something which puts a lot of people off, that they are
not going to be able to cope with it?
(Ms Glover) Yes, I would agree with all those things.
When we originally talked about quangos off the back of Barbara
Roche's interview, the only calls or interest we did get did mention
cost and expenses, and that has come up again and again, people
want to know whether or not they would be paid for it. I suspect
an awful lot of people think they cannot afford to give up the
522. From your listeners, do you feel that is
regionally based? We obviously have our own little areas which
are our constituencies, we do not look at the larger scale very
much. Do you get that feeling from what you are getting back from
e-mails, that there is a regional base to this?
(Ms Glover) I am sure there is, yes. I do not know
where Brian Crichton came from but I am sure that in the more
well-off areas you are undoubtedly going to get more people who
think they have the time to give up to do it.
523. There are 30,000 appointments and they
are very centralised by and large, the Prime Minister has enormous
patronage, the Cabinet Office appoints 5 per cent and there have
been 36 appointed since September of last year which they are
responsible for. Do you think it is too centralised? Do you think
it puts people off when it is seen as a centralised thing, with
the Prime Minister giving peerages in the House of Lords and all
the rest of it? Do you think this gets people thinking, "I
am not grand enough"?
(Ms Glover) Yes.
524. They think, "If there is somebody
like an MP, he is not going to pick me"?
(Ms Glover) Yes, I think people think that more and
more. In fact about a week after we did the original conversation
about quangos, we were talking about people's peers and in fact
the Glover programme may well nominate and support an application
for a people's peer over the coming year. People definitely think
it is something from which they are excluded on the basis of the
525. We have the BBC and they have regional
programmes, very good regional and county programmes sometimesand
I actually know what that Potato Council does
(Ms Glover) Is it good?
526. It is very good because it actually looks
after blight and things like that.
(Ms Glover) So it is important.
527. If your chips were black, you would be
a bit upset. They also monitor the varieties.
(Ms Glover) This is one of the things we need to know
about the Potato Council.
Mr Liddell-Grainger: Regionally, for you in
London, it is irrelevant, but for me in Somerset it is very important
because a lot of people do depend on the potato harvests. I wonder
if there is a regional way of doing this, so you could put it
out, say, on the BBC, "The Potato Council is looking for
people in your areaare you interested?"
Kevin Brennan: "Would you like to be Mr
528. Exactly, there you are. "Mr Potato
Head of Middlesex". It is almost quite interesting. What
do you think?
(Ms Glover) I think that would definitely be a way
forward. As I have said, I have never opened a local newspaper
and seen any kind of reference to a local body that is relevant
to people's lives in that area which needs local people. You must
want local people because they are going to come with the expertise
that you need. I am not going to get picked for the British Potato
Council off the back of the things I have said about them today,
but also because there is no relevance for me in Dalston.
529. It does not stop civil servants being experts
on nothing, I can assure you. So you may well end up on the British
Potato Council, you should be very careful what you say.
(Ms Glover) I think the regional aspect must be very
important, but that is presumably part of the motivation which
is behind the roadshows which are going on at the moment.
530. We have talked a lot about e-mails and
e-networks today. I do not know what the difference is between
telephone calls and e-mails as percentages.
(Ms Glover) We probably get as many e-mails as phone
calls because obviously they are spread throughout the day, people
do not have to wait until we are on air.
531. I do not know about the others but I am
getting more letters by e-maildo you see that as another
way, so that when you apply you can say, "My e-mail address
is" and the quango can say, "Actually these are the
ones looking, we will e-mail it straight through"?
(Ms Glover) I think it would be very helpful. You
can put so much more information on the website than is currently
available, which people can access when they feel like it, at
odd moments when they have some free time, which is much easier
than the great big things which came through my letter box last
week. I think e-mails and the website must definitely be the way
forward. It does make it easier in terms of replying and responding.
If that list of who is looking at the moment were actually up
somewhere on the website, I am sure just out of curiosity people
would keep returning to it.
532. On the form were you asked how much time
you could give?
(Ms Glover) No. Or was I?
Mr Liddell-Grainger: The reason I am askingI
do not know if you are a mum but I know my wife, she has got three
kids and her time is set between when she can and cannot
Chairman: Presumably you have got three kids
533. I only see them at weekends! During the
week they are her responsibility. There isn't much I can do about
that. This place is not one of the great kids' playgrounds.
(Ms Glover) The Single Parent Advisory Council I am
sure are looking
534. I shall join it immediately! Do you think
if you were asked how much time you could give, that would help?
A lot of things are time-specific, I suspect. Do you think that
should be included?
(Ms Glover) I think that would be a superb idea actually.
From a woman's point of view, that is one of the offputting things
as well. There is that doubt, "I have no idea when I would
be called or when I would be expected." Even if it gives
specific hours, "Can you give up two evenings a month between
6.30 and 8.30? Are you available during the day?" Those kind
of questions definitely are not asked at any stage in the process
and they would be very helpful.
535. What were you asked about your ethnic background?
(Ms Glover) I was asked the pretty statutory form-filling
"Asian, Other, White"
536. Did they ask if you were Welsh, Scottish,
(Ms Glover) No, it did not have a national breakdown.
537. It was purely whether you were black, Chinese
(Ms Glover) Yes, as far as I can recall, with the
"Other" box as well.
538. There is a bit of paradox here, is there
not, because if you look at the very local level, women keep things
going. I am not talking about Ian's home but more generally. If
you look at school governing bodies, there are a quarter of a
million school governors in this country and certainly on the
parental side overwhelmingly these are women. If you go to tenants
groups, drug action groups, all these groups at a local level,
it is women who keep them afloat as well as the traditional volunteer
organisations. You may say that is because they feel there is
a more immediate local relevance or because it is more easy to
do because it fits in with the rest of life more easily, but you
can see why the Cabinet Office think, "If we can get these
people involved at that level, how can we get them in a sense
to move up a bit". That is the challenge, is it not?
(Ms Glover) It is, but I think one of the reasons
why you get so many women involved in those kind of things is
because women's desire for change is often very strongly based
around their children and their families and the need to do something
that they feel they are capable of changing. I think with some
of these bodies they just think, "I would not make any difference
to them", or, "That does not really need changing".
There is a perception, as Annette was saying, that quangos are
airy-fairy, over there, not really doing very much, whereas your
local school needs you and you will help out because it matters
to your kids.
539. If we talk about this in terms of public
duty, it all sounds a bit worthy and dull and less interesting
than listening to Radio Five. It is a bit like a community sentence,
either you go to Holloway for a year or you get three years on
a quango. If you approach it in that spirit, it is not going to
be a great turn on for people, but if you say, "These people
are running your lives, these people are making decisions about
your lives every day, shouldn't you get involved", would
(Ms Glover) I think people would become engaged by
it. They just need more information made readily accessible to
them. They need to hear from more people who have done it, lived
through it, and do not say, "I would rather have gone to
Broadmoor for a year" or whatever. It is an image problem,
is it not, which Government is no stranger to.