REACHING OUT: ENCOURAGING DIVERSITY
AND RAISING AWARENESS
179. Our statistical analysis corroborates other
evidence which demonstrates the continuing failure of the honours
system adequately to reflect the country's diversity (see Annex).
We have considered a number of measures which might help.
180. We would hope that the introduction of the Honours
Commission, with its own more diverse membership, would encourage
the selection of a more representative range of recipients. It
would, however, be naïve to imagine that a better balance
would emerge immediately. In the first place, the Commission would
be working with the stock of candidates already held by the Cabinet
Office; and it is unlikely that this would of itself yield a significantly
more diverse list of honours.
181. We note that in the past Permanent Secretaries
have been urged to increase the proportions of female and minority
ethnic recipients, with target figures attached. This does not
seem to have brought about a major improvement, but targets should
form part of a broader and more concerted strategy to increase
182. Diversity will not be improved unless there
is much greater public awareness of the opportunity to nominate
people for honours, especially among under-represented groups.
The recommendations on publicity made in the report of the Wilson
Review, including a much more informative and user-friendly internet
site with case studies of recent recipients and full citations,
appear to us to be sensible. They should form the basis of a strategy
to raise public awareness of the honours system; and this should
also include improved communications with those who have made
nominations. We were concerned that many nominators are unaware
of the stage that has been reached in the selection process. We
accept that this would, initially at least, lead to an increased
workload for those administering the system. However, it is difficult
to see how otherwise its diversity can be increased.
183. As we noted above (para 56) our figures suggest
some puzzling differences between the numbers and levels of awards
conferred on those who live in various regions, or whose service
has been given in different fields. We believe that a regular,
probably annual, check needs to be kept on the statistics so that
the work of the Honours Commission is properly informed, and this
should form part of the Commission's annual report.
184. Honours should also become less mysterious
and inaccessible. One small reform might be the adoption of Mr
Major's proposal for a discreet but recognisable 'lapel' badge
for recipients of honours.
This would supplement the insignia used on formal occasions and
bring the system closer to everyday life, helping to remove the
veil of exclusivity which currently surrounds it. It would be
a modest public badge of honour.
185. We recommend that the Honours Commission
should maintain and publish as part of its annual report a digest
of detailed statistics on the honours system, including the regional
and ethnic origin of those who receive awards. The statistical
analysisin the Annex of this report could form the basis for such
186. We recommend that the Honours Commission
should set indicative targets to ensure that future honours lists
reflect more closely the diversity of the UK population.
187. We recommend that the Honours Commission
should implement a strategy to increase public awareness of the
honours system and encourage more public nominations, based on
the recommendations on publicity contained in the Wilson Review
of the system produced in 2000 and 2001. A particular emphasis
should be placed on attracting nominations for those whose service
has been rendered at local level.
188. We recommend that the citations for all honours
should be published.
189. We recommend that recipients of honours should
be presented with a modest badge or brooch suitable for wearing
with non-formal dress.
190. To meet the point, made above, about the need
to recognise collective effort, we believe there is a strong case
for developing a system of collegiate honours, in addition to
the main honours system.
191. Through this the service and achievement
of teams and organisations can be properly recognised. The Queen's
Award for Industry provides a useful model here, and could be
supplemented by similar awards (e.g. Educational Achievement,
Civic Achievement) across a range of activities and organisations.
We consider that a development of the honours system in this way
would be widely welcomed and valued, and we so recommend.
192. We believe that our recommendations provide
the basis for a genuinely reformed honours system. The system
has adapted and reinvented itself in the past, and needs to do
so again now. Honours enable society to recognise service and
achievement that it values. This is an important function, which
is why it is necessary to ensure that the honours system continues
to work well. Our recommendations are designed to achieve this.
Awarding honours may be inherently subjective, an art rather than
a science, but this makes it even more necessary to have an honours
system which commands public confidence. From time to time this
requires reforms to the system to be made, and of a radical kind.
In our view this is such a time.