Chair of the Electoral Commission

The hon. Member for City of Chester, representing the Speaker’s Committee on the Electoral Commission, was asked – in the House of Commons on 15th October 2020.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Peter Bone Peter Bone Conservative, Wellingborough

What discussions the Committee has had on whether to recommend the reappointment of the chair of the commission.

Photo of Owen Thompson Owen Thompson SNP Whip

As required under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000, the Speaker’s Committee put in place and oversees the process for selecting candidates for appointment as electoral commissioners, including the chair. The Committee’s duty encompasses the recommendation of candidates for reappointment. There is no presumption in the statute either for or against reappointment. At its meeting on 16 July, the Committee took the decision to commence recruitment for a new chair to replace Sir John Holmes, whose term comes to an end in December. That recruitment process will begin shortly.

Photo of Peter Bone Peter Bone Conservative, Wellingborough

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his response and I pass on my best wishes to Christian Matheson, who would normally be here but I think is unwell at the moment. I congratulate the Speaker’s Committee on what it has done; it has effectively fired the chairman of the Electoral Commission. Does Owen Thompson agree that one of the reasons for firing him was the fact that he oversaw the persecution of innocent people whose only so-called crime was wanting to take part in the democratic process and to ensure that the UK left the European Union?

Photo of Owen Thompson Owen Thompson SNP Whip

Thank you, Mr Speaker. Yes, it is not unusual for public appointments to end after one term. The Committee is grateful to Sir John for his four years of service in this very important role. The chair, and all commissioners who are appointed by Her Majesty the Queen following a recommendation from the House, work under a strict code of conduct during their time as commissioners. That requires and ensures impartiality and fairness, and is policed assiduously.