Deputy First Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones has named six business leaders who’ll advise the Assembly Government on economic development.
They’ll head six ‘sector panels’ in six areas of the economy that the Labour-Plaid Cymru government has already identified as being crucial to the future development of Wales.
It reminded me of Gordon Brown’s effort to bring outside expertise into his government, a move that didn’t always have the desired effect as strong-minded individuals used to the freedom of being in business struggled to come to terms with being in government.
And there’s always the scope for conflict of interest and specific criticism of the particular businessmen.
Not that Ieuan Wyn Jones is worried. He told me the appointment process has been ‘robust’ and ‘rigorous’ and, more importantly, that ministers haven’t been involved in the process.
And they won’t be making policy, they’ll be advising officials who will in turn advise Mr Jones. Although he said he’d expect that advice to be listened to and acted upon in most cases.
So who are these captains of industry? The full list from the Assembly Government is below.
Politics watchers as well as business people will recognise the name of biotech tycoon Sir Christopher Evans.
You may remember he was caught up in Labour’s ‘cash for honours’ scandal a few years ago after donating £1m to the party. No charges were ever brought against him.
Today, Ieuan Wyn Jones said we should be ‘celebrating the fact that such a leading figure is working for the Assembly Government.’
Biographies on Sector Chairs (source: Welsh Assembly Government:
Gareth Jenkins, Chair of Advanced Materials and Manufacturing Sector Panel
Currently Managing Director of FSG Tool & Die Ltd in South Wales, the UK’s leading design and manufacture Tool making Company. A former President of EEF Western and Chairman of the Wales Council, in addition to his duties as a main board Director of EEF Ltd.
During his thirty eight year career in manufacturing he has always been passionate about the development of young people. In particular as a former apprentice himself he has championed Modern Apprenticeships on behalf of the sector skills council, the Welsh Assembly and the Wales Manufacturing Forum. He has been actively involved in the creation of The Pathways to Apprenticeship, Young Recruits, Work Based Learning and World of Work Initiatives in the Principality.
Kevin McCullough, Chair of Energy and Environment Sector Panel
Mr Kevin McCullough is currently Chief Technical Officer at RWE nPower having held other positions within the company, and was formerly the Executive Vice President for Innogy America LLC in Chicago. Previously, Mr McCullough was a board member of the Renewables Advisory Board which assisted in advising the Energy Minister to develop Government policy on renewable energy strategies.
Mr Christopher Nott, Chair of Financial and Professional Services Sector Panel
Mr Christopher Nott is the founder and senior partner of Capital Law LLP and as a solicitor, advises other professional services firms. Mr Nott chairs several private sector companies within the Financial and Professional Services sector, as well as the board of the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.
Mr Thomas Kelly, Chair of ICT Sector Panel
Mr Thomas Kelly has over 30 years of ICT expertise including MBO and private equity experience and has been Managing Director of Logicalis UK since 2004. Mr Kelly is an active member of the advisory committee for the Digital Forum for Wales.
Sir Christopher Evans, Chair of the Life Science Sector Panel
Sir Christopher Evans is regarded as one of Europe’s leading biotechnology entrepreneurs with an impressive record of establishing successful, high-quality science companies such as Excalibur Fund Managers (formerly Merlin Biosciences). Sir Christopher is a long term advisor to governments and numerous Heads of State.
Sir Christopher’s considerable contributions to the biotechnology industry have been honoured with a Knighthood in the 2001 New Year’s Honours List and an OBE in the 1995 New Year’s Honours List.