In 2007 British Prime Minister Gordon Brown agreed that House of Commons committees should start holding pre-appointment hearings for key public appointments. This was initially welcomed by MPs, who viewed it as an important step towards limiting executive power and strengthening the
role of parliament. However, following the appointment of the Children's Commissioner against the advice of the relevant select committee, many MPs became disillusioned with the hearings. Based on extensive interviews with those involved in the appointments process, this article argues that
while committees may lack formal veto power over appointments, they do have considerable influence. Most candidates said they would not have taken up their appointment against the advice of the select committee. So pre-appointment hearings should not be dismissed as pointless, but rather seen
as an important mechanism through which committees can exert influence over public appointments. This tells us two important things about the powers of legislatures. First, it confirms that legislative influence is far more subtle than the simple exercise of veto powers, as scholars have long
noted. But second, it also demonstrates that even the most central actors in the process (the MPs) may not appreciate this fact.
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Document Type: Research Article
School of Public Policy, University College London, UK
The Constitution Unit, London, UK< xmlns:xlink="" xlink:href="">[email protected], Email: [email protected], URL: http://www.w3.org/1999/xlink [email protected], Email: [email protected], URL: http://www.w3.org/1999/xlink ">
Department of Political Science, and Deputy Director of The Constitution Unit,University College London, UK< xmlns:xlink="" xlink:href="">[email protected], Email: [email protected], URL: http://www.w3.org/1999/xlink[email protected], Email: [email protected], URL: http://www.w3.org/1999/xlink">
Publication date: 2012-06-01