• Hugely impressed by this demonstration of what can be achieved by good collaboration in shaping the low carbon tech… twitter.com/i/web/status/83480…
  • Meetings with Automotive Council always remind me how effective Govt and industry partnership can be and must be
  • Thx to and all reps of faith groups who came In today to talk values; leadership and responsibility on… twitter.com/i/web/status/83480…

July 2011 Monthly Archives

Cancer Research Relay for Life event

July 28, 2011

Nick starts the Cancer Research Relay for Life event. Nick is photographed with Deputy Mayor Leslie Moss and talking with cancer survivors.

Nick Hurd proposes new Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman appointment

July 18, 2011

Nick Hurd proposes the appointment of Dame Julie Mellor as Parliamentary Ombudsman and pays tribute to outgoing Ombudsman, Ann Abraham.

The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office (Mr Nick Hurd): I beg to move,

That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that Her Majesty will appoint Dame Julie Mellor to the offices of Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration and Health Service Commissioner for England.

Mr Deputy Speaker (Mr Lindsay Hoyle): With this it will be convenient to discuss the following motion, on the remuneration of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration and Health Service Commissioner for England:

That, in the opinion of this House, the salary paid to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration and Health Service Commissioner for England should be £152,000 a year, a sum within the range of salaries payable to Permanent Secretaries in the civil service as required by section 2(2) of the Parliamentary Commissioner Act 1967, as amended by the Parliamentary and other Pensions and Salaries Act 1976; and that this should be subject to (a) any relevant increase for Permanent Secretaries recommended by the Senior Salaries Review Body and (b) after the end of the current pay freeze, 1 per cent. annual uprating in lieu of performance pay; and considers that in future, and subject always to the statutory requirements, the remuneration of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration and Health Service Commissioner for England should be agreed by the Prime Minister and the Chair of the Public Administration Select Committee in advance of the recruitment process, and reported to the House, prior to the House being invited to agree to an humble Address on such an appointment.

Mr Hurd: The first motion asks that an humble address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that Her Majesty will appoint Dame Julie Mellor to the offices of Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration and Health Service Commissioner for England. The second motion sets out the detail of her remuneration, and goes on to state that, in future, the remuneration for that role should be agreed between the Prime Minister and the Chairman of the Public Administration Committee before the start of the recruitment exercise. Dame Julie will be appointed for a non-renewable fixed term of seven years.

First and foremost, I wish to record the Government’s gratitude to Ann Abraham, who has undertaken the role of Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman with great commitment, independence and integrity. She has done much over the past nine years to increase the understanding of the work of ombudsmen.

The Government are also grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Harwich and North Essex (Mr Jenkin) and other members of the Public Administration Committee for their role in the selection of Dame Julie. In a departure from previous practice, the House has led on the appointment process, working in close co-operation with the Government. The Government are pleased that the new arrangement for the appointment of the ombudsman has worked well and delivered an excellent candidate in Dame Julie. The appointment process has included the PAC undertaking a pre-appointment hearing with Dame Julie. The recommendations contained in the Committee’s two reports, published following that hearing, form the basis of the Government’s two motions and I commend them to the House.

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AT THE CONCLUSION OF THE DEBATE

Mr Hurd: There have been sincere tributes from both sides of the House to the work of Ann Abraham, and it is clear that she has made an outstanding contribution. Her legacy will be a valuable and lasting one, not least, as my hon. Friend the Member for Harwich and North Essex (Mr Jenkin) said, in relation to Equitable Life.

I am delighted that there is such consensus about the qualities of Ann Abraham’s successor. Dame Julie Mellor’s record as chairman of the Equal Opportunities Commission demonstrates that she is able to perform well in a high profile and sometimes controversial role, and is prepared to assert her independence and authority when required— all crucial traits, I am sure we agree, for a successful ombudsman.

A number of Members have made points about the remuneration arrangements for the role. The Government make no apology for subjecting highly paid public sector roles, particularly those paying more than the Prime Minister’s salary, to a strict policy of scrutiny and pay restraint, and do not believe that this undermines the status and independence of the ombudsman role. As set out in the motion, Dame Julie has agreed to accept an annual salary of £152,000, which will be subject to the current public sector pay freeze. Thereafter, the remuneration will be uprated in line with the text of the motion.

Sir Peter Bottomley: I do not make this as a personal remark. Could my hon. Friend consider, with his colleagues, making a written ministerial statement any time the Government next intend to negotiate the pay after a candidate has been chosen?

Mr Hurd: That leads me on to my next remark. The Government have reviewed the way the process was conducted and have been quick to accept the Public Administration Committee’s recommendation that for future appointments to the role, the remuneration arrangements should be agreed between the Prime Minister and the Chairman of that Committee before the start of the recruitment process. This commitment is reflected clearly in the Government’s motion.

My hon. Friend has raised the possibility of using any legislation coming out of the Government’s recently published open public services White Paper to enshrine these new arrangements in statute. As he knows, the Government’s proposals in relation to the ombudsmen set out in that White Paper are at an exploratory stage, and it is too early to know what may be required in terms of legislative reform, but the crucial point is that the Government are committed to these new arrangements going forward and that commitment is clear from the terms of the motion. Subject to the outcome of that debate, should a suitable legislative opportunity arise in the future, the Government will give serious consideration to enshrining the new appointment and remuneration arrangements in statute.

Mr Jenkin rose —

Mr Hurd: I am grateful to hon. Members for their contributions to the debate about this important role. I commend the motions to the House.

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Eastcote House and Gardens Summer Picnic

July 15, 2011

Winners

Nick presents the Himnan Shield to groups who has taken part in Conservation work at Eastcote House and Gardens at the annual Summer Picnic on 9th July.