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Government should reconsider adopting Grimstone review

7 July 2016

The Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee found 'widespread disquiet' about the proposals recommended in the Grimstone review of public appointments. The Grimstone proposals threaten to undermine, perhaps "weaken", the basis of independent appointments and the safeguards built in by Lord Nolan.

The report

The Committee's report presents evidence that the Grimstone proposals significantly weaken the powers of the Commissioner for Public Appointments. Previous powers such as the power to appoint independent assessors are taken away. The Committee's view is that without extensive amendment, the Grimstone proposals will not maintain the public's trust in public appointments.

Ministers will now have the power to appoint someone without due process, should they regard the appointment as exceptional. In a welcome move, the Grimstone proposals bring all public appointments into the remit of the code and the Commissioner.

However, Grimstone and the Government have said that some appointments are not significant enough to merit a full appointments process. The Committee calls for the Commissioner for Public Appointments to define what he would view as an exceptional and a significant appointment immediately and for the Government to abide by that definition.


The Committee welcomes the Government and Grimstone's commitment to diversity. The Committee recommends that the Government should adopt Sir Gerry's new principle, that diversity should be one of the public appointments principles and also that the Government should make renewed efforts to attract people from different backgrounds to take up these roles.

Chair's comments

Chairman of the Committee, Bernard Jenkin MP, said:

"The Grimstone report threatens to undermine the Nolan principles that have been the heart of the public appointments system since 1995. We need to have a fair system of public appointments that produces a diverse and talented group of people to run major institutions in the public sector.

The Grimstone report does include a commitment to diversity and we welcome that, however it also undermines the role of the Public Appointments Commissioner, extends Ministers powers too widely and risks a loss of public confidence and trust in the process of appointments to public bodies. Ministers should bear in mind that the current arrangements were put in place to protect them and they should therefore reverse their endorsement of the Grimstone report."

Further information

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