A new Clerk for the Commons


Having annoyed many you yesterday by explaining why I do want a referendum on the EU and how we would get that , let me have another go today at winding some of  you up by telling you the background to the appointment of a new Clerk.

The Clerk elect for the Commons was chosen following an open competition. This was the first time the post had been properly advertised and open to all comers.  As I understand it, a long list of 8 candidates was drawn up and all were interviewed, to create a short list  of 3. These 3 were then interviewed again and asked to make a presentation as well. The interviewing panel was seeking to chose the best person for the job, taking into account the candidate’s ability and knowledge both as a potential CEO of Parliament and as chief adviser on Parliamentary procedure.

The panel doing the work of selection was the Speaker,  Andrew Lansley (Leader, then former Leader of the Commons); Angela Eagle (Shadow Leader) John Thurso senior Liberal Democrat, Margaret Hodge The Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee and the Parliamentary Ombudsman.

I know of no reason why this panel would either simply do the Speaker’s bidding or why it would wish to chose an unsuitable person. Nor do I see why the Speaker anyway would want a poor candidate to win. No-one can accuse the panel of party bias or special party angle in making the selection, as it comprised 1 Conservative, 2 Labour, one Liberal Democrat and 2 independent members.  Nor would you normally accuse Margaret Hodge or Angela Eagle or Andrew Lansley of lacking independent judgement or confidence to make a decision of their own. None of the MPs on the panel had any reason to wish to please the Speaker by backing his choice against their own wishes or judgement.

I myself do not know if I think the candidate chosen was the best or the most suitable, as I did not meet any of the candidates. I do know that a proper process was undertaken. Only if Parliament insists on introducing an additional hurdle in the selection process with a Parliamentary hearing where the single candidate could fail could there be a change to this recommendation. This would be a discourtesy to the successful candidate who was not told to expect that.

I have no reason to trust the couple of critics  who have emerged to challenge the appointment. I have  no basis for believing that the MPs and Ombudsman we asked to do the job have failed to do it sensibly. In large organisations things do have to  be delegated and you do have to trust the outcomes in most cases.


  1. Mark B
    August 30, 2014

    Good morning.

    The thing that irritates me, apart from the size of the remuneration package, is that MP’s are getting so hot and bothered over this issue yet, are more than happy for unelected, unaccountable foreigner’s to do the job that WE elected them to do.

    1. Lifelogic
      August 30, 2014

      The salary £200K? & I assume gold plated pension on top, is indeed far to high. There are loads of very competent people in the UK for less than £40-50,000.

  2. Lifelogic
    August 30, 2014

    Well personally I think the speaker is totally unsuitable for his job or even to be an MP as (words left out ed) his actions over the expenses scandal clearly show. The fact that he was elected reflects very badly on the MPs who selected him.

    I find Angela Eagle and indeed Margaret Hodge most unpleasant and misguided characters, who in TV use every dishonest and nasty trick in the book to smear others who do not hold their silly, spiteful, politics of envy, magic money tree views.

    I would not personally allow any of these to have anything to do with selecting a member of staff for me under any circumstances, nor indeed to do anything else for me.

    John Thurso however does seem remarkably sensible (for a Libdem that is). It seems he is pro nuclear and against wind power. Is he perhaps the only fairly sensible Libdem about?

    Reply Democratic politics proceeds by working with people you disagree with. Angela Eagle is a senior member of the Labour front bench, the party currently attracting the most support of any in the polls. Mrs Hodge was elected by Parliament to be Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee. Whilst I am often critical of their political views, they do represent important strands of opinion and power in the UK which have every right to influence over our Parliament.

    1. Lifelogic
      August 30, 2014

      I see that radio 4 had Ritula Shah chairing any questions yesterday. It it really her role as chair to tell us what she thinks UKIP & Douglas Carswell’s opinions are? There was no UKIP person on the panel as usual, this despite it getting the most votes in the MEP elections. UKIP are in favour of selective immigration, as indeed is this Government (for world wide immigration) just totally unselective for EU for some idiotic reason. Clear a racist policy against the rest of the World.

      She did not even seem to understand that Carswell’s large majority was obtained as a Tory candidate. Standing for re-election as a UKIP candidate is not quite the same thing Ritula.

      Where do the BBC get these people from?

      JR you say “by explaining why I do want a referendum on the EU and how we would get that”

      But you won’t get one because the chance of an overall majority for Cameron (given his chosen direction of travel) is minimal. Also it would need to be a very large one as he has so many Ken Clarke (types perhaps 100 plus in the party) who could well join Labour and the Libdems to prevent him.

      Anyway Cameron is clearly seeking nothing substantive from any “renegotiation” as he has already indicated. He doubtless thinks he can simply push through a stay in vote with little more than a fig leaf, with the help of the hugely biased BBC, charities, the EU funds, government propaganda, large businesses, perhaps a biased question and with most of the political parties and state sector backing in.

      I see the BBC is yet again attacking landlords. They seem to think that dirty houses are caused by landlords. But what can Landlords do if some tenants choose keep their properties in a filthy condition?

      Reply. I am posting this as it has found a new target to attack. I have had complaints about the way you send in the same repetitious and unpleasant attacks on Mr Cameron day after day. In future I will not always post a restatement of your well known dislike of Mr Cameron where there is no new material. Readers can refer to your back postings.
      Mr Cameron was unable to carry out his manifesto in 2010 because he did not win the election. Instead he set out a new Coalition manifesto following a deal with the Lib Dems which he has kept to. You may disagree with all of it and I have disagreed with some of it, but it was done as a response to the wishes of the electors who did not give any party a majority. He did not promise a European referendum in the 2010 Manifesto nor in the Coalition agreement. I did promise to support one in my personal manifesto and voted for one accordingly. Mr Cameron will now include a promise of one in the 2015 Manifesto and will implement that if he has a majority.

      1. Lifelogic
        August 30, 2014

        I would prefer the Tories to win, but only if they became real Tories. Cameron needs to show that he is serious about real EU negotiation, that he is a low tax small government Tory, that he does want to cut down the bloated largely incompetent state sector, he does want sensible but selective immigration and he does want cheap energy and no subsidies for the expensive “renewable” nonsense.
        Then he could win. He surely will not with his current approach.

        Had he consulted me (or you) about Clegg on the TV debate, ratting on Cast Iron, the expensive energy agenda and his general manifesto before 2010 he would have a good majority now – and some fair constituency boundaries too.

        1. Bazman
          August 30, 2014

          As John points out most of your posts are repetitive nonsense that when challenged with any facts you seem to conveniently disregard them, even scientific ones that cannot be disproved are ignored and ranting carries on in further posts saying the same. This is not opinion it is ……. nonsense pretending to be fact. Trying to make mud stick in effect. Are you able to understand anything outside your own ideas?
          etc ed

          1. Richard1
            August 30, 2014

            pots and kettles come to mind reading this

          2. Bob
            August 30, 2014


          3. Bazman
            August 30, 2014

            Pot and kettle? You are as deluded as he is with this non factual repetitive nonsense, this is why you sympathise.

          4. libertarian
            August 30, 2014


            I don’t agree with most of what Lifelogic posts but you are I’m afraid far worse at posting unsubstantiated opinions masquerading as fact, you refuse to read links pointing you to facts, you spout stuff without checking and then when all else fails you resort to personal abuse and changing the goal posts.

            Pot kettle black indeed

          5. Bazman
            August 31, 2014

            Are you still going to tell us that the internet is free and there is no unemployment just lazy people libtard? Which of my opinions are masquerading as facts again? LOL!

        2. Peter Stroud
          August 30, 2014

          You are absolutely right about Cameron. As a lowly member of the rank and file of the party membership, I find many who are tired of Cameron’s broken promises. Mr Carswell pointed these out clearly in his resignation speech. Being in coalition with the most deceitful party in British politics, is difficult. But there is a feeling that our leader could have done more, to promote Conservative policies – rather than push Liberal bills, like gay marriage.

          1. Edward2
            August 30, 2014

            Perhaps it is the electorate who have let Mr Cameron down rather than the other way round.
            How is he meant to follow policies he may wish to implement if the electorate have presented him with a minority in Parliament.
            He is criticised for failing to follow others policy wishes but politics is about achieving what is possible and many policies are not possible depite how much we all would like them to be.
            He is trying to lead a coalition and in my opinion is doing as much as he can to follow the opinions of the majority of the voters wishes as voiced in the last election.

      2. Lifelogic
        August 30, 2014

        It should be about £1.2M now with inflation.

        1. Lifelogic
          August 30, 2014

          The inheritance tax threshold that is.

          1. Bob
            August 30, 2014

            “It should be about £1.2M now with inflation.
            The inheritance tax threshold that is.”

            This method of increasing taxation by stealth is known as fiscal drag.

          2. Bazman
            August 31, 2014

            What would be the minimum wage be with inflation?

      3. Lifelogic
        August 30, 2014

        I note the Coalition agreement starts with the word Freedom (yet not even to choose even our cleaning equipment it seems).

        and ends by saying:

        “The deficit reduction programme takes precedence over
        any of the other measures in this agreement.”

        Not a great deal of progress on that one either, despite its precedence.

      4. ian wragg
        August 30, 2014

        He did manage to get gay marriage through despite not being in the manifesto.
        The truth is John, CMD likes bveing in coalition with the daft Limp Dumbs and the majority of the public know this.
        Checking all the papers and blogs it would appear about 85% agree with Carswell and his reading of the Tory Party which doesn’t bode well forn the next election.
        I see CMD has upped the threat threshold. I fear this nis to deflect the public from what’s going on and the stupendous immigration figures of 520,000 for the last year.
        Do you really think you have a narrative people are interested in.

        1. Mondeo Man
          August 30, 2014

          Ian Wragg “He did manage to get gay marriage through despite not being in the manifesto.”

          Gay marriage was only ever going to come in via the back door.

          1. cosmic
            August 30, 2014

            Yes, and it was a hugely stupid thing to do in view of the fact that there were already gay civil partnerships which had passed without comment.

            It won next to no votes and by working up a lot of people quite unnecessarily, many of whom saw it as a tipping point, it lost hoards.

            This is Cameron all over, try to suck up to people who might cluck approvingly, but who would never in a million years vote for anything labelled Conservative, and offend and completely alienate with apparent glee, people who would.

          2. Mondeo Man
            August 31, 2014

            “It won next to no votes and by working up a lot of people quite unnecessarily, many of whom saw it as a tipping point, it lost hoards.”

            I do hope not.

            It was designed to draw out the ‘nasties’ from the Tory votership and they would have been fools to fall for it. I like to think that Tory voters are more enlightened than that.

            My only objection (homosexuality is, in fact, a more natural state that religion) is the priority given to gay marriage over immigration and the economy.

            For that matter (on the subject of odd priorities) …

            A referendum on the EU ? Ah. We must be patient and wait on the never never.

            A referendum on the break up of Britain ? Yup. You got it !

          3. Bazman
            August 31, 2014


      5. forthurst
        August 30, 2014

        The profound lack of self-discipline exhibited habitually by a poster suggests a(n approach ed) which should not be allowed to spoil this blog. There are to my knowledge those who hardly if ever post but who read the comments; instead of getting a balance of views they are liable unfortunately to find a barrage of repetitious off-topic rants.

        1. Mondeo Man
          August 30, 2014

          Forthurst – Please bear in mind that said person is actually quite moderate and is venting his frustrations in a civilised way. As it happens I think he is right and saying something which is right (but is being ignored) can never be said enough times.

          It is a reflection of common opinion. The Tories may dislike it but it is what they must answer if they are to survive.

          People – myself included – have been pushed beyond the brink. If our only crime is to rant online then credit to us.

          If only our minorities (much feared by the politicians) would do the same.

          (Thanks to our host for giving us a pressure valve via this blog.)

          1. forthurst
            August 30, 2014

            “(Thanks to our host for giving us a pressure valve via this blog.)”

            On more than one occasion JR has requested posters to moderate both the frequency and length of their comments in order to reduce the time that he has to spend, consequently, to moderate (all of) them. JR has many both public and business activities to attend to quite apart from his own private life and it might be that if he thought the only purpose of allowing comments on his blog was to facilitate obsessives to let off steam, he would probably not wish to bother.

          2. Mondeo Man
            August 30, 2014


            – everything you see here has passed moderation.

            – people pushed to the brink become obsessive

            – this blog empowers Prof Redwood as much as it does its contributors

            – some people have a scatter gun approach but are still worth reading as they come up with original ideas

        2. Handbags
          August 30, 2014

          Yes, the man’s obviously (aspersion deleted).

          About 25% of the comments on this article are from the same person.

          Pick an article, any article, and it seems to be the same half-a-dozen people saying the same thing . . . on and on and on . . . . . .

          They congratulate each other . . . on and on and on . . . . . .

          They reply to their own submissions . . . on and on and on . . . . . .

          I suspect that they’re all living in the same nursing home somewhere and simply can’t be bothered to pop their head round the door to speak to each other.

          Very sad.

          1. Excalibur
            August 30, 2014

            This site would be the poorer without the quote rants unquote of Lifelogic. Most of those who criticize him come nowhere near in terms of his range of knowledge and perceptive analysis. It is to John’s credit that he posts so much from all of us that he does not agree with.

          2. Anonymous
            August 30, 2014

            Handbags – some of us say the same things under different identities ! You too, one suspects.

            We will say the same things… on and on and on…

            so long as the problem goes…. on and on and on…

            You’d like us to shut up and keep quiet about the elephant which keeps dumping in our room ?

          3. Handbags
            August 31, 2014

            Arthur Scargill used to do the same thing – bang on and on and on . . .

            Every time he opened his mouth people would rush out and vote Tory – he couldn’t see that he was turning people off.

            And that’s what’s happening here – you’re scaring people away.

            Just because half-a-dozen UKippers posting under false identities make a lot of noise doesn’t mean that the majority support their views.

          4. Kenneth R Moore
            August 31, 2014

            I find it ‘very sad’ that individuals when they have no rational argument to make, feel the need to resort to pathetic ad-hominem attacks that aren’t remotely funny.
            They say more about the author’s lack of thought than anyone else.

      6. matthu
        August 30, 2014

        Mr Cameron was unable to carry out his manifesto in 2010 because he did not win the election. Instead he set out a new Coalition manifesto following a deal with the Lib Dems which he has kept to.

        But that’s not strictly true, though, is it?

        He has not brought about boundary changes, even though he had the support of his coalition partner. What happened? If he can’t effect a change that both parties were in agreement about, what hope when he is trying to win meaningful change from the EU?

        And he has not brought about a meaningful right of recall, when both coalition parties were in agreement.

        One must assume that boundary changes and right of recall, both of which would have empowered the electorate, were less important to Cameron than, say, gay marriage (for which he had no mandate at all).

        1. Chris S
          August 31, 2014

          DC has not been able to implement boundary changes because the LibDems refused to honour their commitment to the policy in a fit of pique. This was because they lost their AV referendum and Conservative MPs would not back their Lords Reform plan, implementation of which was NOT in the coalition agreement.

          I have posted several times that I regard DC as responsible for failing to get the boundary changes onto the statute book :

          When the LibDems refused to back what was clear Government policy and written in the coalition agreement, their Ministers broke the principle of cabinet responsibility.

          If I had been Cameron, I would have called Clegg into No 10 and told him that every LibDem minister, who refused to vote for the bill, including him, would be sacked.

          If the vote was still lost I would have told him I would call a fresh election.

          I suspect that they would have backed down and the boundary changes would now be on the statute book.

          I think Cameron will come close to winning the election next year, or at least come within 20 seats of leading the largest party and therefore being able to continue in a coalition, perhaps with the very few elected UKIP members ( ? ).

          If, as a result Miliband ends up in Downing Street, the direct cause will have been his weakness over dealing with Clegg over this issue.

      7. matthu
        August 30, 2014

        By the way, I like being endlessly reminded about HS2, expensive energy, high taxes, electric car subsidies, green crap, rising debt, uncontrolled immigration, gender neutral insurance, broken promises etc. etc.

        Reminds me to keep the things that are important to me at the forefront when I next get a chance to vote.

      8. Kenneth R Moore
        August 31, 2014

        Reply to John Redwood’s reply:

        I have to say I agree with most of Lifelogic’s remarks and think Dr Redwood has rather lost the plot on this by turning on those that have helped to make his diary a more engaging read.

        JR still hasn’t explained why Mr Carswell came to the conclusion that the referendum promise isn’t worth the paper it was written on. The PM either is or isn’t willing to negotiate for a Uk trade only/associate membership status. If he isn’t then why now ?.

        Why are his advisors putting it about that the strategy is to just give the voters enough to swing the vote to staying in. It wouldn’t be that hard to pull some phoney ‘research’ out of the hat that x million jobs are at risk.

        Dr Redwood must see that a’ yes’ vote would be worse than a no vote – we would be locked into the rotten Eu for another 40 plus years with an emboldened Kenneth Clarke pro Eu lobby . We need a fair referendum but it must be free of political bias at the top – we had enough of that back in 75.

        I’m mindfull of PM Blair telling Peter Hitchens to ‘sit down and stop being bad’ when he had the temerity to be impolite about the sainted Tony. If David Cameron can’t handle a few harsh words (provided these are not libelous) then he is unfit for office.

        I have read ‘The Death of Britain’ by John Redwood – he more than anyone else knows what happens to politics when those in power believe they are above criticism or own the political system.

        The people around the PM need to understand why Mr Cameron enrages so many of his natural supporters and not view remarks unhelpful to him as unreasonable ‘attacks’ that is the road to disaster.

    2. Lifelogic
      August 30, 2014

      Indeed JR – but the Labour party (in effect) buy much of their support using others money, the politics of spite & envy, state sector non jobs and use of the magic money tree. A problem inherent in democracy and human nature alas.

    3. Margaret Brandreth-J
      August 30, 2014

      Reply to reply

      This high minded with the open eyed welsh anthem singing approach makes me laugh, however it may be pertinent to let us know more about the independent panel and their politics as they would out number the other representatives.

      I think actually I would make a good clerk ;in fact most people with a reasonable amount of intelligence and presentation skills could make it . The salary being an incentive.

      1. APL
        August 30, 2014

        Margaret Brandreth-J: “I think actually I would make a good clerk.”

        I am sure you would, Ms Branderth-J. I’m sure at £200,000 plus expenses per year and grace and favour apartments, you’d try very hard too.

        But I’m afraid you have some competition, because I’m going to throw my hat into the ring too. And I can start immediately.

      2. Denis Cooper
        August 31, 2014

        Comment missed for moderation here.

  3. mickc
    August 30, 2014

    Why would this annoy any of your guests?

    The current media storm is quite obviously triggered by animus against Bercow.

    I think he is the best Speaker for years. I will not comment on his personality.

    1. Lifelogic
      August 30, 2014

      How can you thing that, in what way?

      Better than Michael Martin perhaps just? There were far better candidates overlooked for political reasons.

    2. Richard1
      August 30, 2014

      I agree with this, it is clear that there is a lot of personal antipathy to Mr Bercow in Parliament. Its difficult to judge from the outside. His pomposity and rudeness especially to Conservative ministers seems very inappropriate to me, on the other hand it is clear that he allows much more voice to backbenchers than had been the case in the past, allowing Parliament to fulfill its proper function.

      What amazes me is that this story gets such attention from MPs when we have another terrible example of failure in the public sector, and no-one taking responsibility, with the rape and abuse of over 1000 vulnerable children in Rotherham. How can such failure by Labour councilors, police and social services happen over such a period without dozens of firings and possibly prosecutions? Same as mid-staffs, same as Iraq etc. This is what I’d be worrying about if I was an MP.

      Reply The reason I have written about it is the number of people writing in to this site to condemn the appointment. It is not top of my list of priorities.

      1. Excalibur
        August 30, 2014

        Do not be amazed, Richard. No one will grasp the nettle where these particular perpetrators are concerned.

      2. Richard1
        August 30, 2014

        Reply to reply: I am not criticising your posting on it, more the column inches devoted to it and the MPs in high dudgeon about it.

  4. Antisthenes
    August 30, 2014

    If Guy Fawkes blog is to be believed and past evidence would suggest that it is (caveat being that he does appear to be running a campaign to undermine the speaker, which I believe is for good reason) then the selection process was indeed flawed. My own feeling is that the panel was biased (there are quite a number of them on it whose judgement and impartiality I would not trust) and unduly influenced by the speaker as the candid chosen does not appear to be at all qualified enough. Coupled with which there is charge of improper behaviour hovering over her. For the sake of avoiding any taint of malpractice the answer would appear to be to start the process all over again in a much more transparent way with a greater involvement of the whole house of commons. In fact more transparency and accountability in many other matters would be a considerable improvement.

    1. Aaron D Highside
      August 30, 2014

      I agree. I think JR might get more accurate information from Guido Fawkes than from his party’s spin machine.

      Reply MY information on this matter does not come from “my party’s spin machine”. This is a House of Commons matter, not a party matter. I am giving you factual information which is relevant before making a judgement.

      1. APL
        August 30, 2014

        JR: “I am giving you factual information which is relevant before making a judgement. ”

        Is it a fact that the favoured candidate is implicated in a scandal in Australia?

        Reply We do not know. She is opposed by a Senator whose activities she was monitoring I believe, and I think we await an independent report on the rights and wrongs of that dispute. People in senior positions can be subject to challenge. Sometimes these are unfair, sometimes they are telling us something important.

  5. Iain Gill
    August 30, 2014

    Apart from anything else there are plenty of Brits to choose from without bringing in foreign nationals. Are clerks on the shortage occupation list? What kind of visa is she going to get? Sponsored by who?

    Yet another drip in the flood of open doors immigration we are suffering from.

    1. Mondeo Man
      August 30, 2014

      Yet another great job, ideal for a Brit, going to a foreigner. This should only ever happen where there is a need for specialist expertise. We see it all the time in lower jobs – announcements on railways, airports in difficult to understand foreign accents. Why didn’t local people get those highly coveted jobs ?

      Surely there is someone in this country (be they black, white, brown or yellow) who is educated and intelligent enough to do the Clerk’s job. And surely this type of person should have worked their way up in-house so as to know the ropes fully.

      (Please note my comment is against the appointment of a white Australian. Were I the racist bigot politicians assume I would be glad of the appointment instead.)

      1. Bob
        August 30, 2014

        @Mondeo Man

        “Please note my comment is against the appointment of a white Australian.”

        This was Bercow’s mistake. If he had put forward a place-man from an ethnic “minority” no one would have dared challenge the decision.

        1. Mondeo Man
          August 30, 2014

          Better were he a BRITISH black man and proud of his country, Bob.

  6. Lifelogic
    August 30, 2014

    Odds on a Tory overall majority are still 3:1 I note. Will they be even higher after a large UKIP victory in Clacton? Only a few months left.

    The problem is Cameron is clearly not remotely serious about renegotiation or the referendum other than as a long grass way to win the election. This just will not wash with voters. Cameron could still win the election, but his heart and soul are just not in it.

    Miliband is doing his best for Cameron after all and where is Miliband? He seems to have vanished. I have not seen him for months on TV, then again perhaps this absence helps Labour.

    1. Denis Cooper
      August 30, 2014

      I wouldn’t bet on an overall Tory majority with those odds, the current projection on Electoral Calculus has the probability of that happening as just 13%.

      1. Lifelogic
        August 30, 2014

        13% indeed and that is just for a majority of one or more. This is not enough, given the odd defector, extreme EUphiles, trouble makers or interventions by the grim reaper.

  7. alan jutson,
    August 30, 2014

    I know nothing of the talents of any of the candidates, but is not all the fuss about the (new) revelation that the chosen candidate is presently under investigation in Australia for incompetence in the running of one of their big government departments.

    The fact that senior members of the Australian Government have also seen fit to comment on this candidates lack of knowledge and ability (if true) would also point to the fact that our interviewing procedures seem to be somewhat sadly lacking.

    One is forced to ask, do we really not have anyone who is a current UK resident suitable for such a position, which we are told requires intimate knowledge of our Parliamentary procedures.

    £190,000 plus a decent pension, plus a grace and favour residence, does not seem a bad reward does it !

    Simply Amazing.

    1. Lifelogic
      August 30, 2014

      The remuneration package is clearly far, far too high. Lots of brilliant UK engineers on less than 30% of that & doing far more complex jobs too. Still it is not their money is it?

      1. Mondeo Man
        August 31, 2014

        Any of those engineers working on HS2, LL ?

    2. APL
      September 1, 2014

      Lifelogic: “The remuneration package is clearly far, far too high.The remuneration package is clearly far, far too high.”

      I’ll do the job for £150,000 buy in a competent organiser type person, pay ’em £60,000 and swan off to the Algarve.

      Public Sector, our money for old rope.

  8. MIke Stallard
    August 30, 2014

    What is all this CEO of Parliament? “the candidate’s ability and knowledge both as a potential CEO of Parliament and as chief adviser on Parliamentary procedure.”

    Call me old fashioned, but I thought the Parliament was composed of our elected representatives and the Peers of the Realm sitting in the presence of Her Majesty the Queen. I really cannot see how a CEO fits in there at all. However, with the no doubt arcane and very crusty and indeed crumbly old customs that, I hear, prevail there, I am sure that an expert on what kind of socks the Lord Chancellor wears or who cleans the mace need a nerdy sort of scholar to determine.
    My question is (Guido Fawkes) does she actually know anything about it? etc ed

    Reply Parliament is a large employer, runs several restaurants for staff, guests and MPs, runs a couple of important libraries for research, organises tours and access for the public, is a major historic building and tourist attraction etc. Someone needs to run all this, under the guidance and supervision of MPs. Clearly the interviewing panel thought she knew best out of all the candidates how to run the hotel and business side well, and how to advise the Speaker.

    1. Leslie Singleton
      August 30, 2014

      Reply to Reply–It is hard to see what running restaurants etc (“under the guidance and supervision of MP’s”–with respect, baloney) has to do with advising the Speaker. Even this Speaker has at least some experience in the role and was and remains an MP. Anything he needs an answer to is potentially going to be profound–the sort of thing only someone who had lived breathed but not yet died in the Commons could possibly be able to do effectively and how a new foreigner could conceivably be chosen for that role under any circumstances is beyond me. A preposterous decision is a preposterous decision and that’s that. If it moves change and modernise it as absolutely ever these days–never mind that things used to work very well as they were. And of course it simply had to be a woman so said Bercow by report.

      1. Leslie Singleton
        August 30, 2014

        Postscript–Unrelated, but while I am at it I am surprised, indeed well puzzled that no Reply or answer came to my request yesterday for an educative explanation why and how Churchill could have had an electoral pact with another Party (1951 with the National Liberals) while Cameron refuses even to consider a pact (as I said before, that might not be the right word), Everybody agrees that the split in the Right is a serious matter so I very much do not understand. Wiki says in 1951 the two Parties were “allies” but does not say much on exactly why. Maybe I need to read Churchill’s History of the English Speaking Peoples, which I do not have to hand.

        Reply I discussed the options facing Mr Cameron in 2010 at the time. There were other options – confidence and supply, minority government etc which he could have chosen.

        1. Leslie Singleton
          August 30, 2014

          Dear John–I do not doubt what you have just said; but what has that got to do with a possible pact at the Election? How is it that a pact that was OK in principle and practice for Churchill can be dismissed out of hand by Cameron? THAT is the way to keep Miliband out–the Right would sweep the board. Surely you can see that “Vote Nick get Ed” simply is not impressing anyone. “IF the Tories win and IF Cameron keeps his word and IF a chunk of his Party does not rebel and IF the Referendum is not stitched-up” just does not cut it.

          Reply What kind of pact do you want Mr Cameron to enter, and why do you think one is on offer?

          1. Leslie Singleton
            August 30, 2014

            Dear John again–I want nothing other than for the Right somehow to get its act together. All I knew (I explicitly hoped to learn more) was that the Tories under Churchill had some kind of pact with the National Liberals in 1951 and that it seemed possible that some kind of similar pact (I was at pains to make clear I had no idea how the 1951 pact functioned or even if “pact” was the correct word) might be thrashed out today. Surprisingly it seems hard (I have found that few people remember what happened in the 1951 “pact” or even that there was a pact), even from your site full of experts, to obtain details. This is an extremely important subject and, in the nicest possible way, I am surprised that you have apparently not used your undoubted talents and the House of Commons Library or whatever already to look in to this. I myself heard Cameron dismiss the idea out of hand saying on the box something like, “The Conservative Party does not do deals” but apparently that was not the case in 1951 with I repeat Churchill in charge. Of course (especially after Cameron’s silly words on UKIP) such a “pact” may be impossible but I enjoin you and perhaps others to try please. If it could be done, the prize, prizes even, would be potentially tremendous. I reckon there would be clear benefits for both sides so I cannot believe it is impossible though admittedly very difficult indeed now that Cameron has ruled it out. There is an obvious solution to that last bit.

  9. Richard Jenkins
    August 30, 2014

    Mr. Redwood, are you being disingenuous, or is this an uncharacteristically naive post? Get hold of a copy of Decision in Steel, the 1975 documentary made by Roger Graef for Granada TV. Watch Monty Finniston push his ridiculous pet project through the board of the British Steel Corporation.

    One of the laws about how organisations work is that a group of apparently competent people will often be quite capable of making a completely stupid decision. This is particularly true if the group is pushed in one direction by a determined and forceful member of the group.

    It is also true that people outside the group are perfectly entitled to use whatever information is available to them to form their own opinion. That, I submit, is a better approach than just saying: “they must know what they are doing”. Often, they don’t.

  10. Ex-expat Colin
    August 30, 2014

    I thought we were supposed to be doing more for less? Subsidised bars, restaurants and homes, and of course unlike a business its not paid for from profits or as in a military mess by subscriptions. Is it?

    And that place gets bigger followed by Carswell telling us it don’t work. Paterson gave good insight too. And we already know that Lib/Lab/Con are not short in the self serving game. Not sure I could depend on sound judgement here at all. These people need to be ….hungry.

    No UK candidate suitability. Its a worry really because the job on offer is not totally specialist I believe. The hotel/travel and property bit isn’t. Telling Bercow something might be. Why do they keep wasting our money on their stupid re-decorating – Martin and his Scottish theme?

    Anyway, what could I do about it..learn the clerking game perhaps?

  11. Brian Tomkinson
    August 30, 2014

    I presume I am one you are trying to wind up again. You have succeeded, as it is quite clear that you have not looked into the suitability of the person chosen for this appointment. Ms Mills has been described as being “totally out of her depth” by the former Speaker Baroness Boothroyd and Rosemary Laing, the clerk of the Australian senate, expressed “disbelief and dismay” at the proposed appointment of Mills. There are other issues relating to the suitability of this candidate, if you could be bothered to check upon, but obviously you can’t. You are quite prepared to squander £200,000 p.a. of taxpayers’ money with all the additional pension entitlements without a care.
    You have omitted to relate the fact that it isn’t just “the couple of critics who have emerged to challenge the appointment”, by whom I suppose you mean your colleague Jesse Norman and Labour chair of the Backbench Business Committee Natascha Engel. They have submitted an early day motion signed by 74 MPs which according to The Spectator “includes nine former ministers (of which three are former foreign secretaries and a former deputy leader of the Labour party), four select committee chairmen, three former government whips and 11 PPSs.” For your information the motion reads:
    ‘That this House believes that the recommendation of Ms Carol Mills to be Clerk of this House should be subject to, and contingent upon, a pre-appointment hearing and report by a select committee.’

  12. James Matthews
    August 30, 2014

    Too much to expect that the Clerk to the British Parliament should be British then?

  13. formula57
    August 30, 2014

    It is very well, indeed sensible and usually necessary in large organizations as you point out, to repose confidence in the capabilities of a selection panel and to rely upon it to make a sound choice.

    The difficulty in the present case of the ‘Commons Clerk is that the selection outcome appears strange, the process flawed, and there are more than a few pertinent questions in the public domain that would seem to deserve answers but none have been forthcoming.

    The job, as of course you know, is said to have two main parts, being “principal constitutional adviser to the House, and adviser on all its procedure and business, and on privilege and the law of Parliament” and otherwise being ” the Chief Executive of the House of Commons Service, and is the House’s Corporate Officer….Accounting Officer for the two House Estimates totalling some £245M”, as more particularly explained at paragraph 3 of the revelatory leaked memo (source unclear) appearing on the Guido Fawkes site -( we need to know whose memo and why it was compiled and leaked ed)
    Assigning those parts of the job to different people has been rejected more than once for various sound reasons (as explained in that leaked memo) mainly to do with accountability and control. It is clear that the key deliverable, the unique selling point if you will of the job is not making sure the tea and buns get served nor the IT system comes to life when powered-up etc. (critical though those are), rather the part that deals with constitutional advice. To an outsider, it would seem reasonable to suppose that Parliament would suffer without some consummate professional, well-versed in the law and House’ procedures,fulfilling that role. The recommended candidate is said to have no experience or qualifications to equip her to undertake that aspect of the job, suitable though she may well be for the other part. Hence the many questions now in the public domain deserving answers that cannot be provided by an exhortation to have faith in a silent selection panel.

    Reply I made clear I do not have a view of the suitability of the candidates as I did not interview them. I am sure they were interviewed by an independent panel who had to satisfy themselves of her capability to do both parts of the job. If Parliament wishes to overrule it can do so, but it would be unusual for Parliament to overrule the Leader,Shadow Leader, Ombudsman, Speaker, and a senior Lib Dem representative when for once they all agreed! Why would they all wish to conspire to get it wrong?

    1. formula57
      August 30, 2014

      Fair enough – but it could be gross error rather than conspiracy (per Richard Jenkins’ helpful post above) and whilst those making the selection remain silent they cannot be seen to have done a proper job which is now an important consideration given the public debate.

      Reply It is not normal nor wise for a selection panel to set out their reasoning, as this would entail making adverse comments on a lot of unsuccessful candidates who competed expecting confidentiality.Either Parliament trusts its delegated committee or it overrides and starts again. I am still waiting for an explanation of why the panel of worthies would want to reach the wrong answer. We also need to consider Parliament’s legal position and reputation, having got this far with the job offer.

      1. Bryan
        August 30, 2014

        Perhaps, just because, in this case, they are not ‘worthies’?

    2. Brian Tomkinson
      August 30, 2014

      Reply to reply,
      “Why would they all wish to conspire to get it wrong?”
      You tell us but they certainly have.

    3. Kenneth R Moore
      September 1, 2014

      Didn’t a panel of ‘experts’ also agree that there wasn’t a problem with child abuse in Rotherham. Think of all the committee’s that have overseen large IT projects and got it spectacularly wrong. I do think that Dr Redwood is being naïve on this one. The selection process to elect the leader of the Conservative party ignored proper Conservatives and elected a spin merchant. The list goes on.

      “Groupthink is a psychological phenomenon that occurs within a group of people, in which the desire for harmony or conformity in the group results in an irrational or dysfunctional decision-making outcome. Group members try to minimize conflict and reach a consensus decision without critical evaluation of alternative viewpoints, by actively suppressing dissenting viewpoints, and by isolating themselves from outside influences” – wikipedia

  14. NickW
    August 30, 2014

    Good presentations and interviews are half the story; the other half is the opinions of referees and the performance in the current job. It is my understanding that there are huge question marks regarding the chosen candidate’s performance in her current job which need to come out into the open and be properly weighed up.

    It is possible as we know only too well that a candidate can make a stunning performance during the selection process only to reveal once appointed that it was all an act and that the reality is completely different.

    As for following correct procedures; that is the standard defence in the social services when disasters occur due to manifest incompetence at senior levels.

  15. Atlas
    August 30, 2014


    As long as the potential candidate can do the job – and is not a ‘quota tick the box’ then fine.

    Off topic: I understand Cameron is to make a statement on terrorist legislation on Monday. I trust you and your collegues will not allow yourselves to be ‘bounced’ into approving legislation which, on reflection, we might come to regret.

    1. Bob
      August 30, 2014


      “Cameron is to make a statement on terrorist legislation on Monday.”

      The threat level has been raised from “substantial” to “severe”.

      Could the same be said about the national debt since George Osborne has been Chancellor?

    2. acorn
      August 30, 2014

      I wonder if there’s any bad news that needs burying? Beware a lurch to the right, on a “severe threat”, that may or may not exist outside the Westminster spin machine.

  16. John E
    August 30, 2014

    If she was right for or the role she would have withdrawn her application until the investigation into her actions in Australia was completed.
    Any process that makes an appointment such as this in these circumstances is so obviously flawed that there is no point trying to defend it and the process itself is discredited.

  17. Margaret Brandreth-J
    August 30, 2014

    I am rather slow to respond to this one and it will seem that it is actually out of context , however thinking time can even be 10 -20 years ahead of the original initiative, as we have found in the NHS. Most new ideas are not new at all , they just come up again in the pretext of new ownership.The protracted response is, I bought a new Hoover : (yes it is a genuine Hoover) only 750 watts and it works exceptionally well .When I opened it and saw a European guarantee, I thought OMG I have dropped a powerless bloomer and then again it is amazing how many languages one can learn on a guarantee. The problem is I don’t actually want to learn a new language . It is for communication and I would like to remain with the English speaking peoples:French or Spanish at a pinch… I don’t mind the Aussies either ;It has a charming Limey orientated twang and the American drawl I don’t have to work too hard to understand. The point is all this EU business is causing us far too much work. For glory’s sake I am tired . At my age I should be enjoying the things I want to and learning the things I am interested in.
    My performance in physics at school was abysmal ,. I knew Ohm’s law off by heart for 8% in an exam and loathed playing around with prisms and iron filings. I now enjoy trying to conquer these things : quantum theories and quantum physics are spectacularly interesting , but all this bl***y globalisation means that I have to learn to live with everyone before doing the things I want.

  18. Ian wragg
    August 30, 2014

    After the latest immigration figures, Parliament is taking the piss. They are sticking 2 fingers up to the electorate.

  19. NickW
    August 30, 2014

    There is a question which Parliament needs to address with urgency.

    Why is it that the USA passes the most extreme sanctions against Russians who pose no direct threat to the USA or the UK whatsoever, but refuses to pass any sanctions against those countries funding and supporting ISIL?

    The PM will tell us that ISIL is a real and present danger; so we need some answers.

    Given that US foreign policy is responsible for the formation of ISIL in the first place, it is time perhaps for the rest of the world to exert a moderating influence on the USA, rather than following in its footsteps without question.

  20. cosmic
    August 30, 2014

    I’ve seen the most painstakingly constructed and thorough interview processes recruit people who were not just wrong for the job, but were a positive embarrassment.

    What seemed to be lacking in the logic behind the process was a bit of common sense.

    I’ve also had colleagues who were brilliant at interviews, but that’s where their brilliancy began and ended.

    In this case with questions hanging over her, and the fact that this is a position where you’d naturally expect a British national to be appointed, unless there was very good reason to do otherwise, it points to a failure of common sense.

    The appointment of speakers Martin and Bercow, neither a credit to the job, unlike Boothroyd, Weatherill and Thomas, gives the impression that what should be an important post is no longer taken seriously and the Commons goes out of its way to find clowns for the job.

  21. Steve Cox
    August 31, 2014

    Polls this morning are showing over 60% of voters in Clacton intend voting for UKIP and Douglas Carswell. Mr Cameron and his band of champagne lefties are in for another good kicking by the electorate. Of course, everybody knows that this is just one of those silly mid-term protests against the incumbent party and that nobody would ever vote like that in a general election, would they? Would they?

  22. lojolondon
    August 31, 2014

    John, the speaker’s choice was a clear move away from the status quo – a white British male was not going to get the post, no matter how qualified. Personally I am sick of this sexist, racist, classist, ageist attitude being promoted by the government, civil service and quangos, because it is discrimination, and the fact that they are discriminating against white men does not make it any less so. The woman is clearly unsuitable for the position, apart from all the capability issues, she also has yet to answer criminal charges which could easily see her spending time in an Australian jail. I would love to hear from the panel whether these facts were shared with them during the process, and their thought process at this stage.
    The fact that there has been no statement from any member of the panel makes me suspicious that they are very likely surprised by the revelations above and they would certainly reconsider their decision having been appraised of these details. We will know tomorrow.

  23. Kenneth R Moore
    August 31, 2014

    Surely you would need to know something about the candidates to have a view on whether the recruitment process resulted in the selection of the most capable candidate. I don’t see how Dr Redwood could judge whether the process was ‘proper’.

  24. RobertW
    August 31, 2014

    I suggest you read this link ‘hat-tip’ Guido Fawkes, it makes some compelling observations and assertions which, if true, give serious concern to both the composition and outcome of the process set in train by Speaker Bercow.
    I would be most interested in a considered reply. My interpretation taking it on admittedly on face value with some knowledge of Parliamentary procedure( taking advice from a Parliamentarian of some 4 decades standing, it is quite damning.

    Reply The leaked memo confirms my posting on what happened. A panel was established with the people I cited to conduct two rounds of interview and choose the best person for the combined role. The rest of the Memo is then opinion about the skills of the winning candidate – a view which disagrees with the considered view of those doing the interviewing, as they decided she was the best person for b0th -parts of the job.
    They may or may not have good judgement, as I said before. You could only gainsay their opinion if you had interviewed all 8 candidates and then had reason to claim someone else was better. What I contest is it was a Speaker’s plot, or that he worked with patsy MPs who did his bidding. The only way it can change is if Parliament itself decides to impose another round to the process, or decides to change the very nature of the job being advertised. Both such changes would come very late after the original process has reached its answer.

  25. Roy Grainger
    September 1, 2014

    What seems odd (and frankly unbelievable) is that they couldn’t find a UK (or even EU) candidate for the job so an immigrant has to take it. Even odder is that John apparently approves of that whilst worrying about other immigrants coming to UK.

  26. Robert Taggart
    September 1, 2014

    Agreed Johnny, but – this does provide a not to miss opportunity to take a swipe at the ‘Buckingham Bonaparte’ – could this possibly be his ‘Waterloo’ ? !

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