Douglas Carswell

30 DEC 2010

Next BBC chief must be approved by Parliament

Ivan Lewis, Labour spokesman on such matters, has written to Jeremy Hunt requesting that the Commons select committee confirm the appointment of the next BBC Trust Chairman.

However much I’d prefer not to admit it, Lewis is absolutely right. 

It is simply wrong that the executive arm of government alone can make such appointments. Now that we have freed Commons select committees from the obsequious-inducing grip of party whips, MPs on such committees ought to be capable of acting as members of a legislature, rather than cheer leaders for their respective front benches.

Under the existing selection system, a panel of dreary quangocrats are responsible for recommending a shortlist of quangocrats wanting the job. Culture Minister, Jeremy Hunt, is then expected to choose from a short list of two – with perhaps a little help from Number 10.

Yet if David Cameron is serious about “new politics” he should give the Commons the right to approve – or not – the preferred candidate for the role. 

A Commons select committee confirmation hearing held in public is 100 percent what the BBC Trust needs. It would give the next chairman greater legitimacy – with regard to both the BBC and the government. It would show the Minister was confident that his candidate for the job was the right man or woman, and help ensure the best candidate for the job gets the role.

But it would also restore purpose to Parliament. And if it meant that the quangocrats who really run Britain realise that they are going to face real public accountability, they might start to respect the views of the public a little more, too.

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