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Speaker’s Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority

Volume 706: debated on Wednesday 12 January 2022

I beg to move,

That, in pursuance of paragraph 2A of Schedule 3 of the Parliamentary Standards Act 2009, Ms Theresa Middleton CBE be appointed as a lay member of the Speaker’s Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority for a period of five years from 27 January 2022 to 26 January 2027.

Schedule 3 to the Parliamentary Standards Act 2009, as amended by the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010, provides that three lay members should be appointed to the Speaker’s Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority. On 26 January 2022, Mr Shrinivas Honap’s term as a lay member of SCIPSA will come to an end. I would like to thank him very much for his very distinguished service, which he continues to this House as a lay member of the Commission.

When vacancies arise, the statute requires that members be selected by Mr Speaker through a process of open and fair competition. Therefore, in line with the statute, a process has been conducted on merit, and on the basis of fair and open competition, to find his replacement. Subject to the agreement of the House today, Ms Theresa Middleton CBE will become the new lay member of SCIPSA.

An explanatory memorandum is available to Members in the Vote Office. Hon. and right hon. Members will note that Ms Theresa Middleton is a recently retired director at Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, for which she had worked since 1999. She has extensive financial and programme management experience, particularly of large and complex transformation projects, having been director of a major HMRC tax transformation project.

The recruitment board felt that Ms Middleton’s experience, temperament and professionalism would make her an asset to SCIPSA, that she would be able to provide challenge with confidence, insight and authority and that her experience and expertise would complement the skills and qualities of the existing lay members. Subject to the agreement of the House today, we wish Ms Middleton well in this role, and I commend the motion to the House.

I rise briefly to support the motion. As the Leader of the House has outlined, there has been a fair and rigorous process. It has been done entirely in accordance with statute. I just wish to add for the record our thanks on behalf of the Commission and the House to the board members who conducted the recruitment competition, chaired by Clerk Assistant Sarah Davies. We thank our former colleague, Sir David Crausby, Diana DeCoteau, head of reward and employee engagement, and Isabel Doverty, independent panel member. I know that a fair and rigorous recruitment process takes time, thought and effort, and I wish to add for the record our thanks to them. I look forward to working with Ms Middleton soon on SCIPSA.

I echo what has been said and offer my thanks to those involved in the recruitment process and to those who have given their service. I also pass on our best wishes to Ms Middleton, who seems to be an eminently suitable appointee for the role.

I thank the hon. Member for giving way. I have no knowledge of or animus towards the individual concerned, but once again it is the great and the good. She is someone who has just recently retired from HMRC. How cosy that they all slot into these positions. It is never truck drivers who are keeping the country going, or nursing sisters who are keeping the health service going, or those from a whole range of occupations—it is always out of the quangocrats and retired civil servants. I would hope that the Scottish National party and our own Front Benchers would be saying, “We need a broader range of people in public appointments, and not just the same merry-go-round of the great and the good”—however good they may be, and who knows whether they are great.

I feel like I have been given an unexpected opportunity to hold court, which I shall not take. Nevertheless, the right hon. Gentleman is correct: we are very much of a bias towards the good, rather than the great, and it is perhaps unfair to load all those concerns on to this particular appointment. I am sure the Leader of the House will have plenty to say in response to that. All public appointments, in our opinion, should be drawn from the truest possible breadth and depth of the talent that is available.

Question put and agreed to.