The Committee concluded that Mr Collier’s extensive experience in the private sector, having worked at a senior level in the energy and transport sectors, means he has the professional competence and personal independence required for the role.
In evidence to the Committee, the former chief executive of London City Airport, acknowledged that the rail and road sectors, and performing a regulatory function, will be new to him. The Report says Mr Collier will face a ‘sharp learning curve’ but this should not prevent his appointment, provided the board overall had sufficient breadth of experience. Given the challenges facing the road and rail sectors, and Mr Collier’s lack of experience in these sectors, MPs felt he should commit to spending more than two days a week in the role, if required.
Position of Chair of the Office of Rail and Road (ORR)
The position of Chair of the ORR - the independent regulator for the rail network, also responsible for monitoring the work of Highways England, is currently the only appointment made by the Secretary of State following a pre-appointment hearing by a parliamentary committee.
The Committee calls for a wider range of posts – including the chairs of the Civil Aviation Authority, Network Rail and HS2 – to be subject to such hearings to improve public confidence in the process and increase the accountability of ministers to Parliament.
Chair of the Transport Committee, Lilian Greenwood MP, said:
"Having heard from Mr Collier in written and oral evidence, we welcome his nomination for the role of Chair of the ORR and support his appointment. That said, there are challenges ahead for Mr Collier, not least of which will be getting up to speed on the road and rail sectors as quickly as possible. We wish Mr Collier every success in his new post.
"The Committee is struck by the fact that the Chair of the ORR is the only post subject to a pre-appointment hearing by the Committee, while top posts at other similar regulatory and delivery bodies in the transport sector are not. There is no rationale for this. The Department must either accept that pre-appointment hearings should take place for a wider range of roles, or clearly explain why they are excluding important public appointments from parliamentary scrutiny."