HC Deb 08 July 1998 vol 315 cc1056-7
2. Mrs. Jacqui Lait (Beckenham)

What plans he has to encourage Government Departments to use the public appointments list. [47920]

The Parliamentary Secretary, Office of Public Service (Mr. Peter Kilfoyle)

Departments seek nominations from a wide range of sources, of which the public appointments unit's list is one. Others include advertising, executive search, consultation with interested bodies and other departmental databases. Departments regularly consult the unit for names of candidates for specific appointments. Since April, the unit has suggested some 1,200 candidates for more than 150 posts and has been informed of 20 appointments. Others are still under consideration.

Mrs. Lait

I thank the Minister for that reply, but is he aware that the 20 appointments since April bring the grand total to 71 appointments of the hundreds made by Government Departments since the general election? Is he also aware that seven staff are employed in the operation? Does he regard it as an effective means of providing names to Government Departments, or does he agree that it is time either to beef it up, or to shut it down altogether?

Mr. Kilfoyle

The hon. Lady may recall that, when I was in opposition, I raised exactly the same questions about the public appointments unit, but, because the then Government insisted on secrecy, it was difficult to extract the very information to which she is now privy. I share her concern, but I have to tell her that the public appointments unit is devoted specifically to trying to increase the representation of women and people from ethnic minorities; and, although I accept that its performance appears to be in question, I would remind her that the decisions are made by individual Departments and not by the unit. The unit is trying purposefully to project as many names as possible into consideration for appointments, as they become available.