Sir Jeremy Heywood
London SW1A 2AS
24th March 2015
I understand that the Prime Minister intends to appoint David Willetts, the Conservative MP, to the Board of Trustees of the Science Museum Group.
Coming one week before Parliament is dissolved and purdah begins, this appointment would be yet another flagrant abuse of government patronage. Voters would be entitled to see it as the Conservatives giving out jobs to the boys for retiring MPs. This is especially galling after the appointments of Sir Peter Luff to the Heritage Lottery Fund and David Heathcoat-Amory to the National Heritage Memorial Fund– one is a current Conservative MP, the other a former Conservative MP.
These organisations are of great importance and deserve the right people to be leading them, not to be used as sinecures for retiring MPs in what the Financial Times has described as "Italian" style. These organisations should not be used as a reward for government supporters.
I am therefore writing to you to ask that you confirm whether this appointment has been made, and if it has been made, could you answer the following questions:
- On what date was an offer of appointment made to David Willetts, and when did he accept the post?
- What qualifications for the post does David Willetts possess, other than being a Conservative MP?
- How many other candidates were considered?
With under a week left of this Parliament, this is another case of the Prime Minister packing boards with Conservative MPs to ease their retirement. Our great public institutions are too important to become Tory fiefdoms – they are too important to be used for jobs for the Tory boys.
Rt Hon Harriet Harman QC MP
Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport