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 - motion for appointment of new candidate approved by the House and awaits Royal Warrant
- Chair of the Commission - term ended December 2020, recruitment of new candidate underway
- Commissioner with responsibility for Northern Ireland - term ended December 2020, recruitment for new candidate underway
- Commissioner with responsibility for Scotland - term ended December 2020, motion for re-appointment approved by the House and awaits Royal Warrant
- Commissioner with responsibility for Wales - term ends March 2021, motion for re-appointment approved by the House and awaits Royal Warrant.
Names and biographies of our commissioners
Term: 1 May 2021 to 30 April 2025
John Pullinger is our Chair
John is an experienced public servant who has held senior roles in a range of organisations in the UK and internationally.
Until 2019, he was the UK’s National Statistician and Chief Executive of the UK Statistics Authority, developing and delivering a strategy to enhance the trustworthiness, quality and value of official statistics to support political debate and decisions at UK, devolved administration and local levels. He also served as President of the Royal Statistical Society and Chair of the United Nations Statistical Commission.
Since completing his term as National Statistician John has held a number of non-executive and advisory roles including Trustee of the Nuffield Foundation, President of the International Association for Official Statistics and Board member of the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data.
Between 2004 and 2014 John was Librarian of the House of Commons where he was responsible for broadening the range of information and research services available to MPs, particularly backbench Members. He also led work to improve the connection between Parliament and its Committees and the public. As well as his work in the UK, he chaired an International Parliamentary Union conference on informing democracy and was involved in parliamentary strengthening projects in Iraq, Myanmar and elsewhere.
Term: 1 February 2021 to 31 January 2024
Term: 1 January 2017 to 31 December 2023
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: 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 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: 1 October 2016 to 30 September 2022
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: 13 March 2017 to 12 March 2025
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