HC Deb 25 February 2002 vol 380 cc1027-8W
Mr. Viggers

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how the posts of Chairman of the Independent Reconfiguration Panel was(a) advertised and (b) filled; [36780]

(2) if he will make a statement on the extent to which the Independent Reconfiguration Panel is independent of Government; [36779]

(3) on what basis the members of the Independent Reconfiguration Panel other than the Chairman were (a) recruited and (b) appointed; [36781]

(4) what the role of the Independent Reconfiguration Panel is. [36778]

Ms Blears

The Independent Reconfiguration Panel (IRP) will offer authoritative advice to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health on referred proposals for NHS service change. The Panel's draft terms of reference were outlined in the press release announcing the appointment of the Chair, Dr Peter Barrett. These will need to be agreed with the Panel membership before being confirmed. The advice offered will be independent of Government and will be published.

As a Public Sector Working Group, the Office for the Commissioner of Public Appointments has confirmed that the IRP does not fall within its remit. However, as far as possible, the appointment procedures followed have been in line with "Nolan" principles. The panel chairman, Dr Barrett, was appointed by the Secretary of State from a shortlist of candidates. The selection of the Panel membership is being undertaken through an open recruitment competition, overseen by an independent assessor. No appointments have yet been made.