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MSPs seek action on board age rules

27 January 2011

The number of people aplying to serve on public boards in Scotland has halved in only five years, and a committee of MSPs is calling on the Scottish Government to take urgent action to remove any unjustifiable age barriers to membership.

Holyrood's Public Audit Committee has expressed its concern at a report by the Auditor General of Scotland on application numbers for each round of public appointments between 2004 and 2009 – particularly to learn that upper age limits still exist for membership of some boards such as college boards. This has resulted in the loss of existing valuable board members and has prevented those over a certain age, who may possess beneficial skills and experience, from applying.

Committee Convener Hugh Henry MSP said: “Boards are crucial to ensuring good governance of public bodies and it is essential to attract board members who, between them, have a broad range of skills and experience."

The committee also asked the Scottish Government to provide information on how it is supporting boards to focus on risk management, performance and financial information.

Its further recommendations include:

  • the Scottish Government investigates the falling numbers of applications for board membership and takes action to reverse this trend;
  • the presumption of boards should be to meet in public and the Scottish Government should review and update its guidance to boards on this matter;
  • the Scottish Government should clarify the lines of accountability between Scottish Funding Council and Scotland’s colleges.

Click here to view the committee's report.


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