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12 October 2010

Chancellor announces Professor Stephen Nickell and Graham Parker as his preferred candidates for members of the Budget Responsibility Committee

The Chancellor has selected Stephen Nickell and Graham Parker as his preferred candidates for Members of the Budget Responsibility Committee (BRC) of the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR).

In a letter to the Chair of the Treasury Select Committee (TSC), the Chancellor announced his intention to provide in legislation for the TSC to have the power of veto over the appointment of the BRC Members, as well as the Chair of the OBR. As such, Stephen Nickell and Graham Parker’s appointments will be subject to hearings before the TSC and the Chancellor has confirmed that he will not appoint a candidate who is judged unsuitable by the TSC.

The Chancellor said:

“Both Stephen Nickell and Graham Parker would bring extensive experience to the OBR if their appointments are approved by the TSC: Stephen Nickell is an eminent economist with an international reputation and Graham Parker has deep expertise in respect of the public finances and fiscal forecasting. Together, with Robert Chote as Chair, these appointments would ensure that the BRC has the knowledge and expertise to lead the OBR in fulfilling its remit.”

Notes for editors

1. Stephen Nickell is a Professor of Economics at Oxford University and has been Warden of Nuffield College since 2006. Stephen has previously served two terms as an external member of the MPC. He has an international reputation for his applied economic research and is widely published as an academic economist. Stephen is a Board member of the UK Statistics Authority and holds several Economic Fellowships and honorary positions.

2. Graham Parker is currently a Member of the BRC in the interim OBR. Previously, Graham has worked in a variety of Civil Service roles, including nine years as head of the Public Sector Finances team in the Treasury and thirteen years providing analysis, forecasts and policy costings for the Inland Revenue. He was appointed to the IMF Fiscal Affairs Division’s panel of technical experts in 2009.

3. These candidates will appear for hearings before the TSC, and the Chancellor will not appoint a candidate who is judged unsuitable by the TSC. This provides the TSC with an effective veto over these appointments.

4. The Chancellor has announced new Terms of Reference for the OBR until legislation establishing it on a statutory basis comes into effect. These extend the independence of the OBR and strengthen its role in examining the sustainability of the public finances. The Terms of Reference have been agreed with the new Chair of the OBR.

5. The new Terms of Reference state that the OBR will produce an updated economic and fiscal forecast before the end of this year. The Chancellor has written to Robert Chote today asking the OBR to publish their autumn forecast on Monday 29th November.

6. The two BRC Member positions were advertised in July and attracted a strong field of applicants, with 22 applications received in total. A panel comprising Nicholas Macpherson and Dave Ramsden from the Treasury, Robert Chote (Chair of the OBR) and an independent assessor interviewed a number of candidates and provided teh Chancellor with advice on who to appoint.

7. Outline terms and conditions were set out in the Candidate Pack for these appointments.

About the OBR

8. The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) was established on an interim basis on 17 May 2010, to produce an independent assessment of the public finances and the economy for the June Budget. Sir Alan Budd acted as the interim Chair of the OBR for the production of the pre-Budget and June Budget forecasts and left at the end of his 3 month contract.

9. For more details please see the press notice announcing the establishment of the OBR.

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