The Constitution Unit


Pre-appointment Scrutiny Hearings 

In 2007 the new Prime Minister 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 in a project jointly funded by the House of Commons and Cabinet Office.  Peter Waller and Mark Chalmers conducted over 60 interviews of the candidates, Select Committee chairs and clerks, senior civil servants and headhunters.  Their report evaluating the impact of the first 20 pre-appointment scrutiny hearings was published in February 2010.  In 2011 Robert Hazell, Mark Chalmers and Meg Russell published an article 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. 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. Their report Improving Parliamentary Scrutiny of Public Appointments was published in July 2017.

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