The monitors split on Monitor
Not, apparently, on the basis of his qualification for the task â€“ or if those are the grounds, the committee has not explained them â€“ but on the basis that David Bennett, who is currently both chief executive and chair of Monitor has been doing such a good job.
That Bennett has performed well in steering Monitor through the storms created by Andrew Lansleyâ€™s mighty Health and Social Care Act, is not in question.
But it is a basic piece of good governance in both the public and private sectors that executive chairs, save in smaller companies, are not a good idea. A board provides oversight, balance and challenge that is difficult to provide if its chair is also the chief executive.
The committeeâ€™s reasoning is that Bennett has â€śboth shaped and interpreted the role that Monitor now plays in the system which makes the transition to another individual taking on the chair an especially difficult one.
â€śWe do not think Mr Dodd is the right person to undertake that difficult transition,â€ť the committee says â€“ without explaining why. So it has declined to endorse a candidate with an extensive business background (and foundation trusts these days are health businesses) and chunky experience of the NHS, Mr Dodd having been chairman of the Royal Free foundation trust in London since 2009 and a non-executive director of it since 2006. His suitability for the job was warmly endorsed today by Ruth Carnell, the highly regarded former chief executive of NHS London, who described him as â€śone of the very best chairs I have ever worked withâ€ť.
The committee voted on party lines on a low turn-out. Aside from the chair, Stephen Dorrell, just five of its ten members were present and they split on party lines, the three Labour members voting against Mr Dodd, and one Lib Dem and one Conservative voting for.
The Labour members may have another explanation, but this feels like just throwing a spanner in the works. The committeeâ€™s verdict is not binding. Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, can still go ahead with the appointment, as ministers in the main have on the rare occasions a committee has declined to endorse an appointment. We wait to see what he does.
But on the face of it this decision does not look like a brilliant advertisement for the system of pre-appointment scrutiny which, this institute has argued can play a valuable role. Such hearings are intended to assess a candidateâ€™s suitability not split on party lines.