As was the case under the last Government, appointments to public bodies are made on merit by Ministers after a fair and open selection process regulated by the Commissioner for Public Appointments. We have taken unprecedented steps to open up the public appointments process to new talent, slimming down the application process, placing an emphasis on ability rather than prior experience, and increasing awareness. In the first six months of the current financial year, 44% of new public appointments made by Whitehall Departments were women, compared with about a third under the last Government.
The Minister knows that, following the fiasco of the Home Secretary’s attempt to appoint a chairman of the inquiry into child abuse allegations, there is a sense that there is a black book or a secret list, dominated by the metropolitan elite. They are all from London, they all know each other, and they all went to school together. When will the Government open up the secret list, and let us know how people get on it?
As I have said, we have moved significantly towards our aim of ensuring that 50% of public appointments are of women. I recently hosted events organised in Birmingham and Leeds to encourage people from outside London to express interest and apply for such roles, and I am delighted to say that there was a huge amount of interest. We will continue down that path. [Interruption.]