The Constitution Unit


Pre-appointment Scrutiny Hearings 

A pre-appointment scrutiny committee.

Read the 2010 report (pdf)

Read the 2017 report (pdf)

In 2007, Gordon Brown announced that in future the most important senior public appointments would be opened to scrutiny by departmental select committees. The Constitution Unit undertook to evaluate this innovation. Peter Waller and Mark Chalmers conducted over 60 interviews of the candidates, select committee chairs and clerks, senior civil servants and headhunters. An Evaluation of Pre-Appointment Scrutiny Hearings, evaluating the impact of the first 20 pre-appointment scrutiny hearings, was published in February 2010. This was then followed by an article by Professor Robert Hazell, Mark Chalmers and Dr Meg Russell in the Journal of Legislative Studies: 'Pre-Appointment Scrutiny Hearings: All Bark, or some Bite?'.

In 2016, we decided to revisit this topic. 80 pre-appointment hearings had been conducted, with five negative reports, so there was a lot more data. Professor Robert Hazell led the project, working again with Peter Waller, and supported by research volunteers Qalid Mohamed, Turan Hursit and Harmish Mehta. They compiled a detailed analysis of the transcripts of 71 pre-appointment hearings and their results and conducted a further 25 interviews with select committee chairs and clerks, candidates and headhunters. Improving Parliamentary Scrutiny of Public Appointments was published in July 2017. Professor Hazell then followed this on with an article in Parliamentary Affairs: 'Improving Parliamentary Scrutiny of Public Appointments'.