§ Mr. John Fraser
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement about the way in which lay members of rent assessment panels are appointed; if he will list those bodies which are asked to nominate lay members of panels; and if he will publish the criteria by which lay members are appointed.
§ Mr. Gow
Members of rent assessment panels in England are appointed by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment. Members who are authorised to sit as committee chairmen are appointed by my noble Friend the Lord Chancellor.
Most candidates are proposed by panel presidents, vice-presidents or serving panel members on the basis of local knowledge. Other nominations come from a variety of sources. My right hon. Friend does not invite outside organisations to suggest potential lay members, but it is open to such organisations to do so if they wish. All candidates are interviewed initially by panel presidents who submit recommendations to the Secretary of State.
Lay members are taken from all walks of life, so that panels should reflect the communities which they serve. Members are selected for their qualities of judgment, common sense and ability to take an unbiased view.