MEMBER FEATURE: Succeeding Sir David. By Dan Martin

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Dan Martin, AccountingWEB business editor, speaks to members about their views on who should succeed Sir David Varney as HMRC chairman.

Sir David steps down from his role on 31 August to take up an advisory post at the Treasury. As the first boss of the merged Inland Revenue and Customs and Excise he has presided over massive changes, not all of them popular. Earlier this week, the department announced Paul Gray, Sir David's deputy, will replace his boss temporarily. Gray is not without controversy given his special responsibility for the troubled tax credits system.

But should Gray be given the role permanently or should someone else take up the challenge? Should it be a civil servant or someone with a business background? And just what key skills should that person possess to ensure...

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04th Aug 2006 15:48

No more politics
We've had so much change foisted on the country by politicians wanting to appear dynamic that in reality we've gone backwards. There are some voices of reason and my vote goes to Sir John Bourn of NAO. Why? Because the NAO focuses on what needs to be done and not what would grab the following morning's headlines and he has the intellectual capacity to work out the priorities and assemble the necessary resource to clear the clutter. This country needs a tax system that is easy to understand and fair so no political appointments, please!

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06th Aug 2006 22:28

He's free (soon)
So you need someone with experience of "change management and corporate integration" - what about Eric Anstee?

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04th Aug 2006 11:28

accepting for a minute
that there is a serious side to this, the real point is that change is required and much of that change requires political decisions, and these are decisions that no politician in a position to make would make.

it is certainly true that the role of HMRC chairman will allow choices to be made in how to pursue the relationship with the profession and with taxpayers, which means that a business background would be essential, and I would suggest there are lots of captain of industry names that could be suggested, but I guess you would have to accept that anyone with the right credentials from that background is unlikely to accept the job. It seems to be fashionable to be critical of civil servants, but it is important to understand why the current taxation institutions do not serve us well, and that this post is a poisoned challice.

What is needed is an HMRC that is able to be responsive to challenges (such as carosel fraud) whilst not alienating the British taxpayer. I am afraid that that means it requires a man manager who is able to weed out the cultural incompetence that pervades HMRC, and someone with a strategic vision who is able to accept measurable objectives covering effectiveness and empathy to taxpayers, but balance that with the objectives of HM Treasury, which often seem to be in conflict, and to that end the post should have, and be seen to have independence from HM Treasury.

To my mind the man for the job is Ken Clark.

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