HC Deb 27 July 1998 vol 317 cc60-2W
Sir Raymond Powell

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (1) if he will give a breakdown of the total cost of the application process for the BBC Board of Governors; [51521]

(2) how many structured telephone interviews were conducted for the BBC Board of Governors; and for which posts; [51517]

(3) who was on the interviewing panel for the BBC Board of Governors; and what criteria were used to establish membership; [51522]

(4) how many people applied for each of the vacant positions on the BBC Board of Governors; [51520]

(5) how many personal interviews for the BBC Board of Governors were conducted; and for which posts; [51523]

(6) how many (a) women and (b) ethnic minority applicants there were for the BBC Board of Governors as a percentage of the total number of applicants; [51516]

(7) where and on how many occasions the application process for the BBC Board of Governors was advertised; [51515]

(8) what interviews were held for the BBC Board of Governors; and for which posts; [51518]

(9) how the final decision in the selection for the BBC Board of Governors was reached; and who was responsible; [51514]

(10) what qualifications were sought for successful applicants for the BBC Board of Governors. [51519]

Mr. Chris Smith

The process for appointing the BBC Vice-Chairman and two Governors was based on the principles set down by the independent Commissioner for Public Appointments.

Advertisements for the position of Vice-Chairman of the BBC and for two Governor positions, one to chair the English National Forum, appeared in The Sunday Times on 1 March, The Times on 5 March, The Guardian on 2 and 7 March, The Glasgow Herald on 6 March, The Western Mail on 4 March and The Belfast Telegraph on 6 March.

Candidates had to have, or be able to acquire quickly, the ability to represent the interests of BBC viewers and listeners and of the public at large; an appreciation of the requirements of operating as a board and the management of a large and complex public service and commercial undertaking; sensitivity to and the ability to keep in touch with public opinion on broadcasting issues; and the ability to work in an effective and collegiate manner with other Governors and the senior management of the BBC. Candidates for the position of Vice-Chairman were, in addition, expected to have the qualifications and experience to deputise for the Chairman and possess sufficient influence, experience and weight to act as an effective bridge between the BBC and Parliament. Candidates for the position of the Governor who chairs the English National Forum were expected to have knowledge of the English Regions and be willing to travel extensively within England.

The recruitment process cost £54,246.23. This comprised £40,486.98 for the advertisements and £13,759.25 for the recruitment consultants.

388 individuals applied following the recruitment campaign, but a significant number of applicants applied for more than one position. 66 applied for the Vice-Chairman position, 80 for the chair of the English National Forum and 371 for the third Governor position. 31 per cent. of applicants were female and 10 per cent. were from ethnic minorities (though only 55 per cent. of applicants completed the ethnic minority section of the questionnaire).

The Department's recruitment consultants, Capita RAS, carried out an initial sift of the applications and ranked each candidate against criteria based on the role specifications for the positions. The shortlists of candidates were arrived at following consideration by myself. There were no structured telephone interviews.

The four shortlisted candidates for the Vice-Chairmanship were interviewed by a selection panel chaired by Robin Young (the Department's Permanent Secretary). The panel also included, in accordance with normal practice, two independent member (Sir Christopher Hogg and Sir Dennis Stevenson), as well as Sir Christopher Bland.

The shortlisted candidates for the two Governor positions were considered by an advisory panel for public appointments which included independent membership. A final shortlist of candidates, agreed by me was seen by Sir Christopher Bland and the head of the Department's Broadcasting and Media Group.

My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and I decided, in the light of the advice of the interview panel that Baroness Young of Old Scone should be recommended for appointment as the Vice-Chairman. In the light of interviews for the other positions, they decided that Ranjit Sondhi and Anthony Young should be recommended for appointment to the other Governor positions.

The final decision on all three appointments was taken by Her Majesty The Queen in Council on 21 July.