Simon Thomas AM, Chair of the Finance Committee, made a statement in Plenary on 5th April 2017 on the Committee’s behalf, outlining its experience of their pre appointment hearing for the Chair of the Welsh Revenue Authority.
The Welsh Revenue Authority (WRA) will be established to collect and manage devolved Welsh taxes and will become operational from April 2018. The WRA is non-ministerial department of the Welsh Government. The Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Local Government believed a pre appointment hearing would be beneficial given the unique status and governance arrangements for the Chair of the WRA.
The Committee felt encouraged by the Cabinet Secretary’s commitment to transparency and accountability in recruiting public appointments, and welcomed the opportunity to help improve this procedure future pre appointment hearings. The Committee recognised the Cabinet Secretary’s commitment to pre-appointment hearings, indeed, the Cabinet Secretary published an article in 2012 where he acknowledged the importance of pre appointment hearings. The Chair recognises that the Cabinet Secretary has taken the first steps to bring the Assembly in line with other parliamentary bodies who already have an established process in relation to pre appointment hearings.
In the Committee Statement the Chair detailed the constructive results the hearing produced; including giving the candidate exposure to parliamentary scrutiny in a public setting, something which an appointee to a post of this level needs to be prepared for.
In the statement, the Chair voiced that, as with any new procedure there is room for improvement. He outlined the Finance Committee’s suggestions for future pre-appointment hearings to include;
- A statement by the Cabinet Secretary outlining why the Minister/Cabinet Secretary believes the candidate is suitable for the post.
- Additional reporting time to be factored into the timescales.
- Establishing a set list of public appointments that require a pre-appointment hearing.
- The Chair’s vision for pre appointment hearings in the future is for them to strengthen transparency and accountability of ministerial appointments, which will increase public confidence in decisions made by both the Welsh Government and the Assembly.