What our Commissioners do
Our Commissioners lead our strategy and set our priorities.
We currently have nine Commissioners, each with different political backgrounds and experience. This ensures broad representation and balanced views. The Speaker's Committee is recruiting for a Commissioner to represent the smaller parties.
The role of our commissioners
Our Commissioners form part of the Commission Board, along with our executive team, and:
- set our overall strategic direction, and ensure we deliver our strategic goals
- set our regulatory priorities, and monitor our regulatory activity
- make regulatory or other statutory decisions, if required
- ensure we use public funds efficiently and effectively, and operate within our limits and to high standards of governance
The appointment of our commissioners
The Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, with membership drawn from MPs within the UK Parliament, oversees the recruitment of electoral commissioners. The candidates for these posts are then approved by the House of Commons and appointed by HM the Queen. The Speaker’s Committee is also responsible for deciding any reappointment of members following a first term of service.
Forthcoming term ends and recruitment processes are as follows:
- Commissioner nominated by smaller parties – currently vacant, recruitment underway
- Commissioner nominated by third largest party (SNP) - term ends September 2020, reappointment recommended by the Speaker’s Committee
- Chair of the Commission - term ends December 2020, recruitment of new candidate begins autumn 2020
- Commissioner with responsibility for Northern Ireland - term ends December 2020, recruitment for new candidate begins autumn 2020
- Commissioner with responsibility for Scotland - term ends December 2020, under consideration by the Speaker’s Committee
- Commissioner with responsibility for Wales - term ends March 2021, under consideration by the Speaker’s Committee
Names and biographies of our commissioners
Term: 1 January 2017 to 31 December 2020
Sir John Holmes is our Chair. He works closely with our chief executive to set our direction and priorities, and represents us and our work at events across the UK.
Sir John Holmes was educated at Preston Grammar School and Balliol College, Oxford. He joined the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in 1973 and served in a wide range of diplomatic roles in London, Moscow, Paris, New Delhi and Lisbon.
In 1995, Sir John joined Prime Minister John Major in Downing Street as his Private Secretary (Overseas Affairs) and diplomatic adviser. He continued this role with Prime Minister Tony Blair from 1997 to 1999, becoming Principal Private Secretary, and was a key figure in the negotiation of the Good Friday Agreement.
In 1999, Sir John was appointed as the British Ambassador in Lisbon, moving to Paris as Ambassador from 2001 to 2007. He then served as UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, before taking over the post of Director of the Ditchley Foundation from fellow board member Sir Jeremy Greenstock.
Sir John is married to Penny, and they have three daughters.
Term: 1 January 2017 to 31 December 2020
Dame Sue Bruce is our Commissioner with responsibility for Scotland.
Sue Bruce is a non-executive director with SSE PLC; Chair of Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO); and is a Deputy Lieutenant of the City of Edinburgh. She is also a member of the Audit Committee of the University of Strathclyde, and a former Chair of Young Scot.
Sue Bruce served in Local Government for almost 40 years, finishing in 2015. Her most recent post was as Chief Executive of The City of Edinburgh Council having previously served as Chief Executive at Aberdeen City Council and Chief Executive at East Dunbartonshire Council. Amongst her noteworthy achievements was the turnaround of the Edinburgh Tram Project, the establishment of the Edinburgh Guarantee and prior to that, the performance improvement of Aberdeen City Council.
Term: 1 January 2016 to 31 December 2020
Anna Carragher is our Commissioner with responsibility for Northern Ireland.
She is a member of the Board of the Arts Council for Northern Ireland and a Trustee of the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust. She has worked as a journalist and producer for the BBC in London and Northern Ireland on programmes including Today, Newsnight, Question Time and Any Questions, and as Editor of European and Correspondent Programmes. She was Head of Programmes for BBC Northern Ireland from 1995 to 2001 and Controller, BBC Northern Ireland from 2001 to 2006.
She joined the Electoral Commission on 1 January 2012.
Term: 31 March 2018 to 30 March 2022
Sarah Chambers was formerly the Chief Executive of the mail industry regulator, Postal Services Commission, between 2004 and 2008.
A former civil servant, Sarah has a wealth of experience in the regulatory and policy fields, having been a board and committee member of a number of public organisations, including the Competition and Markets Authority, Bar Standards Board and Judicial Appointments Commission.
Sarah is currently Chair of the Legal Services Consumer Panel.
Term: 1 October 2016 to 30 September 2020
Alasdair Morgan is one of the four commissioners appointed under S.3 (a) of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000. This section provides for four Commissioners to be appointed after having been put forward by a political party. Alasdair Morgan was put forward by the Leader of the Scottish National Party.
While pursuing his career in the IT industry, Alasdair Morgan held various senior positions within the Scottish National Party (National Treasurer, National Secretary etc.) until he was elected as SNP MP for Galloway & Upper Nithsdale from 1997 to 2001, where he served on the Trade & Industry Select Committee.
He was an SNP member of the Scottish Parliament from 1999 until 2011, when he stood down. During his second four year term he was convener of his party’s parliamentary group and then its chief whip, and in his last term he was one of the Deputy Presiding Officers of the Parliament and leader of the Parliament’s delegation to the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly.
He remains a trustee of the Scottish Parliamentary Pension Fund.
Term: 1 November 2018 to 31 October 2022
Stephen Gilbert is one of the four commissioners appointed under S.3 (a) of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000. This section provides for four Commissioners to be appointed after having been put forward by a political party. Stephen Gilbert was put forward by the Leader of the Conservative Party.
Lord Gilbert of Panteg (Stephen Gilbert) is a Conservative peer who entered the House of Lords in 2015.
He chairs the House of Lords Communications Select Committee.
He has held several senior positions in the Conservative party. These have included Head of Campaigning, Director of Campaign and Deputy Chief Executive as well as Political Secretary to the Prime Minister.
Term: 13 March 2017 to 12 March 2021
Professor Dame Elan Closs Stephens CBE is our Commissioner with responsibility for Wales.
Elan Closs Stephens is Emeritus Professor of Communications and Creative Industries at Aberystwyth University.
She has specialised in cultural and broadcasting regulatory policy, chairing the Stephens Review into the Welsh Arts Council and serving as Chair of the British Council in Wales, as a Governor of the British Film Institute and, for two terms, as Chair of S4C, the Welsh Fourth Channel. For the last six years until the end of the Charter, she has been the Wales Trustee on the BBC’s governing body, the BBC Trust.
She has been a Non Executive Director of the Permanent Secretary of Wales’s senior Board and has chaired the Board’s Audit and Risk Committee since 2008. She also chaired the Recovery Board for the Isle of Anglesey County Council. Elan is a first language Welsh speaker from the Nantlle Valley in North Wales and a graduate of Somerville College, Oxford.
She was awarded a CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in 2001 for services to broadcasting and the Welsh language. She served as High Sheriff of the three counties of Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion 2012-13.
Term: 1 January 2016 to 31 December 2023
Rob Vincent served as Chief Executive of Kirklees Council from 2004 until 2010 and was a non-executive Director of DCLG from 2008-2010. Between 2010 and 2012 Mr Vincent led the intervention into Doncaster Council, at the request of the Secretary of State.
Most recently he has acted as an adviser to the Department of Health on the transition of the public health function from the NHS to local government.
Term: 1 November 2018 to 31 October 2022
Joan Walley is one of the four commissioners appointed under S.3 (a) of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000. This section provides for four Commissioners to be appointed after having been put forward by a political party. Joan Walley was put forward by the Leader of the Labour Party.
Joan Walley started her political career in London and was elected Member of Parliament for Stoke on Trent from 1987 to 2015.
During her time in office she acted as Shadow Spokesperson for Transport and Shadow Spokesperson for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
In 2015 Joan became Chair of the Aldersgate Group. She is also a Non-Executive Director to the NHS Combined Healthcare Trust.
- The Electoral Commission
- UK wide