Examination of Witness (Questions 960
THURSDAY 24 OCTOBER 2002
960. The definition is the same here. This Parliament
has the same definition of five years.
(Professor Rees) Of activity, office holding or seeking
office. It is a very small number.
961. You are trying to have us believe that
the circumstances are different, that everyone is more friendly
or cooperative and it does not really matter, but it does, or
(Professor Rees) I am losing your point, I am ashamed
962. I think you have a much less transparent
(Professor Rees) A less transparent system because
a question is asked about political activity in the last five
963. No; because the Minister is involved in
the appointing, and so is the Assembly, and the affiliation is
known. People appointed under Sir William Wells's system do not
know the affiliation at the time that they make the appointment,
although they can tell you afterwards.
(Professor Rees) Affiliation is not known. Political
activity in the last five years is known, and there is an enormous
Mr Trend: I may be wrong about this but I think
political activity in the last five years would debar you anyway.
964. Let us just try to get to the bottom of
this. In Wales you have this wonderful cross-party way, but let
us assume the allegation was made that the parties were simply
carving up public appointments themselves in a cosy way.
(Professor Rees) It could not be done.
965. That is extraordinary. Why could it not
(Professor Rees) Because you have the independent
assessors operating there. Ministers are basically presented with
a nominated candidate. If it is a very big appointment, they might
chair the panel or be on the panel, but for the most part, the
name comes through the system, which ministers are not involved
in, and they say yes or no at the end. I cannot ever remember
a minister refusing a candidate that has come through the system
that they are not involved in. I do not know of one.
966. If they were to say no, what would happen
(Professor Rees) They would go to the list of candidates
that have been deemed by the process to be above the line, and
they would presumably choose one of those. But those candidates
have come through the system, assessed on merit, with the independent
assessors, and deemed above the linemaybe not the first
choicebut that is what would happen. If they could not
select one from the candidates that are deemed to be above the
line, the process starts again.
967. That is the quality control. Let us get
right to the bottom of Michael Trend's question, which is that
we were hearing with the NHS Appointments Commission that although
there is no knowledge of any political activity at all in the
appointments process, unlike the Welsh situation, for reporting
processes, for Dame Rennie purposes, this information is collected,
so that she can report on it. Are you saying that the collection
is not taking place in Wales?
(Professor Rees) I would want that checked out with
the National Assembly Public Appointments Unit, but my understanding
is that affiliation is not collected at any stage, only political
activity within the last five years. That is what is on the form.
968. In your Motivation of Public Appointees:
A Scoping Exercise, July 200 you come up with lots of recommendations
about things that should be looked at in studies. I counted 14;
how many of these have been gone through?
(Professor Rees) I do not know that any of them have.
969. None at all?
(Professor Rees) This was a scoping exercise at the
invitation of Edwina Hart, the Chair of the Equality of Opportunities
Committee at the time, and Dame Rennie Fritchie, with a view to
identifying possible ways forward to look at this whole issue
of motivation and what motivates people, and what does not motivate
people who are not motivated, which is more difficult, and so
on and so forth. What has happened since then is this has been
considered and some of the specific recommendationsthey
were not packaged
970. I accept that.
(Professor Rees)Some of the recommendations
have then been built into the action plan (which I think may have
been tabled this morning) which is in the process of being signed
off by the Assembly. It has been agreed by the Equality of Opportunities
Committee and I think it is with the First Minister now who has
to sign it off, and some of those proposals are built into this
plan to move them forward.
971. Are they the proposals you want to see?
I have had a look through them and they are very wide-ranging
in what has been suggested. Are you happy with what has been referred
to? I do not think we have seen the action plan but it says in
here "not publicly available".
(Professor Rees) It was on the web page on 6 March.
972. So that is the thing we have got.
(Professor Rees) The current version, which I tantalisingly
have here, is amended so slightly that really the one that is
tabled is pretty much it. For some of the scoping exercise ideas,
as I understand it from Dame Rennie Fritchie, there had not really
been much thought on this topic about motivation in public appointments
before so this is a very first exercise, casting bread upon the
waters, and getting some reaction to see what people think might
be worth pursuing, building on some of the things that we know
about volunteering, for example, which is related but different,
and some things we know about those who already present themselves
for public appointments. So a few of those things have been picked
up in the action plan and, as I understand it, once the First
Minister has signed this off they will be developing that. £80,000
has been set aside for the Public Appointments Unit for the coming
year to implement some of those studies and other actions that
are identified in the plan.
973. I totted this up and it comes to 59,000
quid just in yours, excluding ones that you have not costed.
(Professor Rees) But you would not do them all.
974. Is there data on a lot of this? There are
things in here that I thought there might be some data on"Commission
questions about active citizenship ... in a regular omnibus survey",
"consultation with organisations that assist formally in
the recruitment process", "telephone interviews with
equality agencies", "focus groups from a selected cross-section
of current public appointees"; all of this is readily available
anyway, is it not?
(Professor Rees) No.
975. None of it?
(Professor Rees) No. This is the thing. It is a very
new area to explore.
976. Focus groups have been kicking around for
quite some time now.
(Professor Rees) Not on this particular topic.
977. You are saying public appointees should
be stratified by the three tiers, to identify key prompts and
motivations for volunteering. Dame Rennie came in front of us
and talked about volunteering and the motivation behind that and
the lady from Radio 5 talked about that.
(Professor Rees) This was commissioned, as you can
(Professor Rees) Exactly and so obviously things have
moved on since then but actually there is precious little information
on this, particularly on systematic social scienceand I
am a systematic social scientist. Obviously there are journalist
reports and interviews you can read about that but, no, there
is no systematic proper research on those kinds of things.
Mr Liddell-Grainger: Alright.
Chairman: It is a good job Ian is not on the
panel evaluating this application.
Mr Liddell-Grainger: We would be here all day.
Sir Sydney Chapman
979. It is 15 months since you presented this
report. In that intervening period is it your experience that
there has been an increase in the number of applications to public
(Professor Rees) I feel nervous about answering that
question, Sir Sydney, because I do not have the data. The data
could easily be obtained from the Public Appointments Unit of
the National Assembly for Wales. All I can say is that increasing
numbers of applications is not necessarily a brilliant measure
because in the early days when these appointments were opened
up to the public, when the terms of reference were described in
hopelessly broad terms, the entire population felt that they would
be eligible and applied and you would have ridiculous numbers
of people applying for a post when three-quarters of them were
ineligible, although their ineligibility was not clear from the
job description. If you improve the description of the post so
that only eligible people apply to it, you would expect a reduction
in the numbers, so with the professionalisation of the system
you would expect them to reduce in numbers. At the same time,
if you are trying to promote diversity, you want more eligible
people from more diverse backgrounds to apply. So my argument
is that the number of applications is a very crude measure. What
one really should be looking at is the number of eligible applications
and while I do not have those statisticsthey are obtainablemy
impression is from my independent assessor work that the numbers
of eligible applications is going up and the proportion of eligible
applications to the whole is increasing, and these are good signs.
This is my impression.