Nolan's flying start

August 4, 1995

The Nolan Committee is already being deluged with written submissions to its inquiry on local public spending bodies.

Lord Nolan told this week's formal launch of the inquiry - which will cover further and higher education, training and enterprise councils, grant-maintained schools, local enterprise companies and housing associations - that more than 200 letters had already been received.

The committee - whose members include Diana Warwick, incoming chief executive of the Committee of Vice Chancellors and Principals - will take written evidence until October 31, and start calling witnesses in the following month. It intends to publish its report before Easter 1996.

Public concern has been raised by events such as the pay-offs for the departing vice chancellors of Huddersfield and Portsmouth universities and the collapse of the South Thames Training and Enterprise Council.

Lord Nolan said the remit of the committee was to ask: "Are there issues of genuine public concern and can our committee do anything useful to help?" He said that inquiries would rely on what was already on the record or communicated by written and oraltestimony.

Their inquries will take as their starting point the principles of selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership and will examine in particular the appointment and accountability of boards, their relationship with staff and safeguards in conflicts of interest.

Lord Nolan said there had been concern that boards could become self-perpetuating and self-serving. But the committee's role would not be purely critical: "There are many areas of public life which deserve high praise. One of our jobs is to provide reassurance where it is merited."

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