The process for appointment of the next Clerk of the House and Chief Executive has included public advertisement and the use of an executive search agency to identify potential candidates, undertake initial interviews, review all applications and draw up a long list of suitable candidates. A short list for interview has been agreed by the selection panel. As the process is not yet concluded, I cannot yet provide the assessment that my right hon. Friend seeks.
I accept that the role of the Clerk of the House is of vital importance to all hon. Members. Given that the world has been trawled for a potential successor, even, for some odd reason, as far as Australia, will my hon. Friend tell me whether the taxpayer will be paying the cost of travel to the UK for interview of any candidates from abroad, and what budget has been set aside to fulfil that?
With regard to the first part of the right hon. Gentleman’s question, I can of course confirm that we all recognise the supreme importance of the role of the Clerk and the Chief Executive in our affairs, and I am sure that the panel will be working very diligently—I am serving on that panel—to ensure that the person with the right qualifications is chosen for the job. With regard to the second point, I do not know what the expenses may be for candidates and therefore may I write to my right hon. Friend on that question?