This week's General Committee debates

Week commencing Monday 11 December 2017

Version: Uncorrected

Fifth Delegated Legislation Committee

Monday 11 December 2017

[Mrs Cheryl Gillan in the Chair]

Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority

4.30 pm

The Chair:

Before the Committee begins, I would like to declare for the record that I sit on the Speaker’s Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority.

I beg to move,

That the Committee has considered the motion, That an Humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that Her Majesty will appoint Mr William Lifford to the office of ordinary member of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority for a period of five years with effect from 11 January 2018.

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairship, Mrs Gillan. The appointment, which will end on 10 January 2023, is to fill a vacancy that has arisen because the term of Anne Whitaker is coming to an end.

The Speaker’s Committee has produced a report—its first of 2017—in relation to the motion, and it may help if I set out briefly its key points. Members of the board of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority are appointed under the Parliamentary Standards Act 2009, under which the Speaker is responsible for overseeing the selection of candidates for appointment to IPSA, and the names of any candidates must be approved by the Speaker’s Committee for IPSA. The Act further states:

“At least one of the members of the IPSA must be a person who has held (but no longer holds) high judicial office (within the meaning of Part 3 of the Constitutional Reform Act 2005 (c. 4))…At least one of the members of the IPSA must be a person who is qualified under Schedule 3 to the National Audit Act 1983 (c. 44) to be an auditor for the National Audit Office…One of the members of the IPSA…must be a person who has been (but is no longer) a member of the House of Commons.”

On this occasion, the vacancy is for the auditor member of the board of IPSA, a role currently filled by Anne Whitaker, whose term will end on 10 January 2018.

The Speaker of the House of Commons is not regulated by the Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments in making this appointment, but chooses to follow its recommended best practice in his supervision of appointments. As is normal for such appointments, Mr Speaker appointed a panel to conduct the shortlisting and interviewing of candidates. The panel was chaired by Mark Addison, a former civil service commissioner. Its other members were Ruth Evans, the chair of IPSA; Shrinivas Honap, a lay member of the Speaker’s Committee for IPSA; Meg Munn, a former Member of Parliament for Sheffield Heeley; and Michael Whitehouse, former chief operating officer of the National Audit Office.

The candidate recommended by the appointment board is Mr William Lifford, a former partner at Grant Thornton who has substantial experience chairing audit committees. He also has strong experience as a non-executive director, including with Yorkshire Housing, Martin House children’s hospice and the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board. As required under the 2009 Act, the appointment was approved by the Speaker’s Committee at its meeting on 7 November. If the appointment is made, Mr Lifford will serve on IPSA for five years and will chair its audit and risk committee.

I hope that the Committee, and ultimately the House, will support Mr Lifford’s appointment. I wish him well in his new post.

4.33 pm

It is a pleasure to serve under you, Mrs Gillan. On behalf of the Opposition, I thank the panel of the Speaker’s Committee for its work on the appointment process. I confirm that we are pleased to support the appointment of Mr Lifford to this important role.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved,

That the Committee has considered the motion, That an Humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that Her Majesty will appoint Mr William Lifford to the office of ordinary member of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority for a period of five years with effect from 11 January 2018.

4.34 pm

Committee rose.