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Departmental Public Appointments

Volume 487: debated on Monday 9 February 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland which of the public appointments for which his Department is responsible are due to be (a) renewed and (b) filled in the next 24 months; what the (i) remit, (ii) salary, (iii) political restriction, (iv) eligibility requirement and (v) timetable for each appointment is; and what records his Department keeps in respect of such appointments. (254246)

The Secretary of State for Scotland is responsible for appointing two commissioners to the Boundary Commission for Scotland. The commission is an independent and impartial advisory body, responsible for reviews of constituencies and regions for the Scottish Parliament, and constituencies in Scotland for the Westminster Parliament. One of the current commissioner appointments will run until 31 December 2010, the other until 6 June 2011. The posts are part time and require around one to two days work per month during the period of a boundary review. Commissioners are paid a daily fee, currently £486, for attending commission meetings and for meeting preparation. Applicants are expected to have a good understanding of the social geography of Scotland, the structure of constituencies for the Westminster and the Scottish Parliaments, and the electoral system. There are no statutory political restrictions, but it is recognised that commissioners are expected to be politically neutral. Appointments are made following Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments (OCPA) and other relevant guidance.

The Secretary of State may also appoint, at the request of the commission, assistant commissioners, to "inquire into, and report to the Commission upon, such matters as the Commission think fit". In practice, assistant commissioners are appointed to conduct public inquiries into the commission's provisional recommendations. In Scotland, it is customary for Sheriffs Principal who preside over the relevant areas to be appointed for this purpose given their unquestioned independence and impartiality, and their local connection to the areas under consideration. These appointments are unpaid, and made for the duration of the inquiry process, typically a few months.

The Scotland Office retains all official records relating to the appointment of both commissioners and assistant commissioners.