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Restoration and Renewal Programme Board

Volume 832: debated on Wednesday 20 September 2023

House of Lords Commission

Membership Motions

Moved by

Restoration and Renewal Programme Board

That this House has considered the Commons message of 12 September, and

(1) notes the report from the House of Commons Commission and the House of Lords Commission on the membership of the Restoration and Renewal Programme Board, HL Paper 241, dated 6 September 2023; and

(2) agrees with the Commons that Dr Michèle Dix should be appointed as an external member of the Board.

House of Lords Commission

That Charlotte Moar be appointed as an external member of the Select Committee, in place of Mathew Duncan.

My Lords, the first Motion invites the House to appoint Dr Michèle Dix as the fourth external member of the Restoration and Renewal Programme Board. Noble Lords may recall that the House approved the appointment of the membership of the programme board in February this year, including three external members. The report proposing those appointments recommended that there should be up to four external members. In May, the programme board agreed to recruit a fourth external member with specific experience of major programmes, particularly during the development phase. The proposed appointment of Dr Michèle Dix has been unanimously agreed by the Restoration and Renewal Client Board, which comprises the House of Lords and House of Commons Commissions. Further information about Dr Dix’s extensive experience and the recruitment process is set out in the report to your Lordships, which the House is also invited to note.

The second Motion in my name invites the House to appoint Charlotte Moar as an external member of the House of Lords Commission, in place of Mathew Duncan, who was an external member for the past six years. Ms Moar will bring a range of public and voluntary sector non-executive experience to the commission. The proposed appointment was unanimously agreed by the commission after a fair and open recruitment process. I beg to move.

My Lords, perhaps I may make just a short point on the appointment of Dr Dix. I very much welcome and agree with the appointment. However, I wonder why, at paragraph 12, the report to the House has the following line:

“All the candidates were required to provide written declarations regarding past political activity and potential conflicts of interest”.

I understand why it mentions potential conflicts of interest; I do not understand why it mentions political activity. If they are experts, whether they are Conservative, Labour or Liberal should have no bearing whatever on their suitability for appointment. It is one of the crazy sorts of things that is, at the moment, for ever guiding the House about political activity. I hope that that can in future be put right.

I also have slight concern that we are appointing Dr Dix for just three years, because at the rate of progress on restoration in this place, she will not have seen a single project start. We have been going on for over 12 months, approving or changing the entrance to the Peers’ Lobby. Three years will not see her seeing through any of these projects. This is a vast project, and it would do well from having continuity of people involved, not constantly changing them. The continuity will be helped by them having the authority of not wondering about being reappointed in two or two and a half years’ time. I see that this appointment could be extended for another three years. I just hope that, by the end of Dr Dix’s appointment, we have started to see some of the restoration of this place that is so desperately needed to protect a valuable and treasured building, not only in the United Kingdom but in the world.

My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord McLoughlin, has made some sound points, and I am certainly intrigued. I obviously saw paragraph 12. I will make inquiries as to the reference that candidates

“were required to provide written declarations regarding past political activity”.

I am assuming that this is a normal course of events with appointments, but the noble Lord makes an interesting point.

Dr Dix has clearly been appointed because of her considerable experience in very large management scenarios, of which this will be almost unique in its complexity. It is absolutely important that we get the right people on the programme board to assist us.

I also note the point about the appointment being for three years. It is usual to have a three-year term with a possible extension for a further three years, as the noble Lord noted. Clearly, this will be a very long project, and we will have to think not only about retaining collective memory but about fresh experience.

The noble Lord made another important point that all of us responsible in this generation need to reflect on. It is very clear that we have this great responsibility and need to do the right thing for this building, not just for those of us in this Chamber but for many people in this country and beyond who see it as iconic of values that are sadly diminishing in many parts of the world. I will take those points on board.

I thought I would take this opportunity to remind noble Lords that the delivery authority’s annual progress report will be subject to debate in Grand Committee. I hope many people will sign up to it because, as the noble Lord, Lord McLoughlin, commented, this building is not simply about facilities for noble Lords and MPs; it represents this country’s values globally as well as domestically.

I am remiss. The noble Lord is correct. I am delighted that his name is on the speakers’ list. The debate will be at 4.15 pm on 18 October in the Moses Room. I warmly welcome Members to come to capacity, not only to listen but to contribute, because we clearly have a shared interest in this extraordinary building.

Motions agreed.