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Governance

Find out how the honours system operates, from the independent committees to the role that the Prime Minister plays.

On this page:

Independent Committees
Main Committee
Arts and Media
Community and Voluntary Services Committee
The Economy
Education
Health
Parliamentary and Political Service
Public Service
Science and Technology
Sport
State
Role of the Prime Minister
Committee on the Grant of Honours, Decorations and Medals (HD Committee)
Advisory Military Sub-Committee

Independent Committees

Honours are recommended by panels of independent experts. There are ten honours committees, and they are made up of independent people who are foremost in their respective fields.

Each honours committee has an independent chairperson and has a majority of members who are also independent. These independent committee members are appointed following an open and fair appointments process and although it is very similar to the public appointments process, they are not public appointees.

Senior civil servants also attend honours committees and are referred to as official members. A representative from 10 Downing Street is invited to attend all committee meetings.

Twice a year, the honours committees meet to review nominations for people involved in specific activities and then send their recommendations to the Main Honours Committee. This Committee is made up of the chairpeople of all ten honours committees as well as an official chairperson who is appointed by the Cabinet Secretary.

The Main Honours Committee agrees on a final list of recommendations which goes to the Prime Minister and then to The Queen, who awards the honour.

As well as the ten independent committees, there is also a Diversity Committee chaired by Dame Louise Casey and is made up of a representative from each of the honours committees.

Main Committee

Members

  • The Cabinet Secretary (Chair)
  • Chair of Arts and Media Committee: Rupert Gavin
  • Chair of Community and Voluntary Services Committee: Dame Louise Casey DBE CB
  • Chair of Economy Committee: Sir Ian Cheshire
  • Chair of Education Committee: Sir Daniel Moynihan
  • Chair of Health Committee: The Rt Hon The Lord Kakkar
  • Chair of Parliamentary and Political Service Committee: Lord Sherbourne of Didsbury CBE
  • Chair of Public Services Committee: Professor Dame Barbara Monroe DBE
  • Chair of Science and Technology Committee: Professor Sir John Bell GBE FRS
  • Chair of Sport Committee: The Rt Hon Sir Hugh Robertson KCMG DL
  • Chair of State Committee: Mark Addison CB
  • The Permanent Under Secretary, Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office
  • The Chief of the Defence Staff

Arts and Media

Chair: Rupert Gavin, Historic Royal Palaces

Independent members:

  • Sir Peter Bazalgette – Chair, ITV
  • Sir Nicholas Kenyon CBE – Managing Director, Barbican Centre
  • Kanya King CBE – CEO, MOBO Organisation Ltd
  • Caroline Michel – Chair, Hay Literary Festival
  • Kenneth Olumuyiwa Tharp CBE – Freelance Arts Professional
  • Alice Rawsthorn OBE – Design critic and author.

Official members:

  • Sarah Healey CB – Permanent Secretary, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
  • Leslie Evans – Permanent Secretary, Scottish Government

Community and Voluntary Services Committee

Chair: Dame Louise Casey DBE CB

Independent members:

  • Harris Bokhari OBE – Co-founder of the Naz Legacy Foundation and Ambassador of British Asian Trust
  • Rabbi Dr Harvey Belovski – Senior Rabbi, Golders Green Synagogue; Chief Strategist and Rabbinic Head, University Jewish Chaplaincy
  • Carly Jones MBE – Autism Advocate
  • Ros Kerslake CBE – Chief Executive, National Lottery Heritage Fund and National Heritage Memorial Fund
  • Adeeba Malik CBE – Deputy Chief Executive, QED UK
  • Waheed Saleem – Managing Director, Waldoc Ltd
  • Ben Summerskill OBE – Chair, Silver Line and Director, Criminal Justice Alliance
  • John Booth – Chairman, Prince’s Trust and Trustee, Tate

Official members:

  • Jeremy Pocklington CB – Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
  • Dame Shan Morgan DCMG – Permanent Secretary, Welsh Government
  • Sarah Healey CB – Permanent Secretary, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

The Economy

Chair: Vacancy

Independent members:

  • Professor Heather McGregor CBE – Executive Dean, Edinburgh Business School, Heriot-Watt University
  • Dame Minouche Shafik DBE – Director, London School of Economics and Political Science
  • Dame Inga Beale – Group Chair, Mediclinic International
  • Sir Douglas Flint CBE – Chairman, Standard Life Aberdeen
  • Dame Vivian Hunt DBE – Senior Partner, McKinsey & Company
  • 1 x Vacancy

Official members:

  • Sarah Munby, Permanent Secretary, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
  • Sarah Healey CB – Permanent Secretary, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
  • Leslie Evans – Permanent Secretary, Scottish Government

Education

Chair: Sir Daniel Moynihan – Chief Executive, Harris Federation

Independent members:

  • Professor Sir David Eastwood DL – Vice Chancellor, University of Birmingham
  • Dr John Guy OBE – former sixth form principal and education consultant
  • Dame Alison Peacock DBE DL – Chief Executive, Chartered College of Teaching
  • Professor Steven West CBE DL – Vice Chancellor, University of the West of England
  • 1 x vacancy

Official member:

  • Vacancy – Head of Northern Ireland Civil Service
  • Susan Acland-Hood – Acting Permanent Secretary, Department for Education

Health

Chair: Vacancy

Independent members:

  • Sir David Behan CBE – Chair, Health Education England
  • Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz – Chair, Cancer Research UK and Vice-Chancellor Emeritus, University of Cambridge
  • Professor Jane Dacre – Professor of Medical Education, University College London and President, Medical Protection Society
  • Baroness Harding of Winscombe – Chair of NHS Improvement
  • Professor Karen Middleton CBE – Chief Executive, Chartered Society of Physiotherapy
  • Professor Iqbal Singh OBE – Chair, Centre of Excellence and Safety for Older People
  • 1 x Vacancy

Official members:

  • Professor Chris Whitty CB – Chief Medical Officer (England)
  • David Williams CB – Director General, Finance, Department of Health and Social Care
  • Dr Andrew Goodall – Director General, Department for Health, Social Services and Children, Welsh Government

Parliamentary and Political Service

Chair: Lord Sherbourne of Didsbury CBE – Member, House of Lords

Independent members:

  • Dr Sue Griffiths – Managing Director, Social Development Direct
  • The Rt Hon The Lord Haselhurst
  • Dame Denise Platt – Member, General Medical Council and Member, Solicitors Regulation Authority
  • Sir Paul Silk KCB – Lately President, Study of Parliament Group
  • 1 x Vacancy

Official members:

  • The Rt Hon Mark Spencer MP – Government Chief Whip
  • The Rt Hon Nick Brown MP – Opposition Chief Whip

Public Service

Chair: Dame Barbara Monroe DBE – Trustee, Marie Curie and Special Commissioner, Royal Hospital Chelsea

Independent members:

  • Emir Feisal JP, Trustee, the Henry Smith Charity
  • Alistair Finlay OBE, Faculty Director of Operations, Queen’s University Belfast
  • Shonaig Macpherson CBE FRSE – Chair, Robertson Trust
  • Maggy Pigott CBE – Lately Joint CEO, Judicial Studies Board
  • Riaz Ravat BEM DL – Board Member Leicester and Rutland Community Foundation
  • The Venerable Canon David Stanton – Archdeacon and Canon of Westminster Abbey

Official members:

  • Jeremy Pocklington CB – Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
  • Mike Driver CB – Interim Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Justice
  • Matthew Rycroft CBE – Permanent Secretary, Home Office
  • Susan Acland-Hood – Acting Permanent Secretary, Department for Education

Science and Technology

Chair: Vacancy

Independent members:

  • Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell DBE DL – Psychologist and Past President, University of Bath
  • Naomi Climer – Vice President, Royal Academy of Engineering
  • Professor Andrew Scott – Professor of Economics, London Business School
  • Professor Sir Keith Burnett, CBE, FRS – Chair, Nuffield Foundation and Chair of the Academic Council, Schmidt Science Fellowship, University of Oxford.
  • Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser DBE – CEO, UK Research and Innovation
  • 2 x Vacancy

Official members:

  • Prof Sheila Rowan MBE – Chief Scientific Adviser for Scotland
  • Sir Patrick Vallance – Chief Scientific Adviser to HM Government
  • Professor Paul Monks, Chief Scientific Adviser, BEIS

Sport

Chair: The Rt Hon Sir Hugh Robertson KCMG DL – Chair of the British Olympic Association

Independent members:

  • Pippa Britton – Vice Chair, Sport Wales
  • Tom Clarke – Former Sports Journalist
  • Donna Fraser – Vice President, UK Athletics
  • Liz Nicholl CBE – President, World Netball and lately Chief Executive, UK Sport

Official members:

  • Sarah Healey CB – Permanent Secretary, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
  • Vacancy – Head of Northern Ireland Civil Service

State

Chair – Mark Addison CB – Lately Public Appointments Assessor; lately Civil Service Commissioner; and Chair, Dorset County Hospital

Independent members:

  • Sarah Anderson CBE – Chief Executive, The Listening Place.
  • Isabel Doverty MA, M.Sc, MCIPD – Civil Service Commissioner
  • Sir David Hempleman-Adams – Chair, Global Resins limited, Founder and Director of Hempleman Investment Company
  • Professor David Rhind CBE – Former CEO of Ordnance Survey and former Chair of NHS Trust Board
  • Jenny Rowe CB – Former CEO, Supreme Court
  • Sir John Scarlett KCMG OBE – Chief, Secret Intelligence Service 2004-09

Official members:

  • 1x Vacancy
  • Sir Chris Wormald KCB

Role of the Prime Minister

Prime Ministers set the strategic direction for each honours list. This means that they can provide a steer to people putting forward nominations and to the independent committee members about the type of recognition they would prefer to see on the honours list.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson set his strategic priorities for the honours system in May 2020. He said:

“The work of the independent honours committees is guided by the Prime Minister’s priorities.

Mr Johnson reaffirmed that honours should be awarded ‘merit first’ – to those who give service above and beyond – and not to those who are just doing their job. Honours are not to reward longevity in a role, seniority or age.

In supporting the Government’s levelling up agenda, the Prime Minister would like to see representation from the length and breadth of the UK, reflecting the extraordinary contributions made across every part of this country, with a real focus in recognising parts of the country often overlooked.

In awarding honours, the Prime Minister would like to see individuals who have provided outstanding service with clear and specific examples of how their results have delivered real change to people’s lives or had a positive impact on the country.

Individuals must represent values which reflect the UK and recognise the exceptional role the UK plays in the world.

He would like to see the system especially recognise those:

  • innovators and entrepreneurs who create thriving businesses and deliver growth across the country and export to new markets
  • individuals who are unleashing our potential in emerging sectors, striving to find new technologies, deliver a cleaner environment as well as improve global biodiversity
  • who deliver excellence in culture and education
  • charities and groups which deliver meaningful change locally in tackling crime, improving the local environment and delivering integration as well as individuals who support the aim of increasing the chances of female education across the globe
  • individuals who have put their own lives at risk to protect and defend the lives of others
  • public servants and those in public life who have delivered an exceptional service to provide help and support to the people of the United Kingdom
  • individuals who worked to support the Union of all four constituent nations of the United Kingdom

The Prime Minister is grateful for the support of everyone involved in adhering to this guidance.”

Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP, Prime Minister

Committee on the Grant of Honours, Decorations and Medals (HD Committee)

The Committee on the Grant of Honours, Decorations and Medals (known as the HD Committee) is the policy-making body for the honours system. 

The HD Committee gives advice directly to The Sovereign about possible changes to the honours system and military medals policy, including considering new awards. Its members are senior officials in the Civil Service and the Royal Household.

Membership of the HD Committee:

  • Sir Tom Scholar (chair)
  • Principal Private Secretary to HM Queen
  • Principal Private Secretary to the Prime Minister
  • Permanent Under-Secretary of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office
  • Permanent Secretary of the Home Office
  • Permanent Under-Secretary of the Ministry of Defence
  • Secretary of the Central Chancery of the Orders of Knighthood

The HD Committee aims to meet two to three times per year.

Advisory Military Sub-Committee (AMSC)

The Advisory Military Sub-Committee (AMSC) considers claims for medallic recognition of past military service. It is a sub-committee of the HD Committee.