By David Williams
19 November 2010
Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude has come under fire
from MPs for not consulting fully over the appointment of a senior civil
servant to oversee public service recruitment.
The public administration select committee has raised a
series of objections to the appointment of the current Home Office permanent
secretary Sir David Normington as both First Civil Service Commissioner and Commissioner
for Public Appointments.
The committee held its pre-appointment hearing on November
16, having been given two working days after Maude confirmed his preferred
In a report published yesterday, the committee said it was satisfied
that Normington was both competent and independent enough to meet the demands
of both roles. However, it expressed concern at the ‘lack of consultation
surrounding the proposal to combine these two roles’.
The committee also expressed ‘serious concerns’ about appointing
a senior civil servant to the posts.
Although Maude announced in July that both posts would
become vacant at the end of this year, the committee said slips in the Cabinet
Office’s timetable left them with only two working days to
scrutinise the appointment.
The MPs also raised objections that they had not been kept
informed about the recruitment process, and said that in future the relevant
minister should supply information about the backgrounds of other shortlisted
The committee also objected to the use of recruitment
consultancy Saxton Bamfylde to fill the posts. It called for a ‘proper explanation
of the role of such consultants’, and to be notified of their fees and costs.
The First Civil Service Commissioner oversees top-level
Whitehall recruitment and human resources issues, while the Commissioner for Public
Appointments regulates ministerial board appointments. The Civil Service Commission became a statutory body
on November 11, when the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010 came
The PASC has reserved judgement on whether the roles should
have been combined, but noted there was a ‘severe risk’ that one or both
offices would not be given enough attention.
Normington will retire from the Home Office before taking up
the new roles. The committee expressed ‘reservations’ that a civil servant
should be able to benefit from a ‘significant public sector pension’
immediately before taking on another public appointment.
He will take up both posts on January 1. Although not
pensionable, it is of equivalent status to a Whitehall department’s permanent
secretary, and Normington will be paid at a similar level – £85,080 for a