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The Honours Committee is a committee within the Cabinet Office of the Government of the United Kingdom formed to review nominations for national honours for merit, exceptional achievement or service. Twice yearly the Honours Committee submits formal recommendations for the British monarch's New Years and Birthday Honours. Members of the Honours Committee—which comprises a main committee and nine subcommittees in speciality areas—research and vet nominations for national awards, including knighthoods and the Order of the British Empire.[1]

Honours Committee
Committee overview
Formed2005 (reorganisation)
Headquarters70 Whitehall, London SW1A 2AS
Committee executive
Parent departmentCabinet Office


The honours system is an ancient one, particularly in Britain; Æthelstan, King of the English in the 10th century, was knighted by his grandfather, Alfred the Great. Knighthoods were originally conferred as a military honour, often on the battlefield. Later it became customary for only the reigning monarch to bestow the honour.[2] Other honours beyond knighthood were later established, including the Order of the Bath in 1725.[3] In the 20th century, the "Ceremonial Branch" of the government was created in 1937 with the sole purpose of overseeing the honours system. In 2001, the committee became officially known as the Ceremonial Honours and Appointments Secretariat.[4]

Since 1993, members of the public have been eligible to nominate individuals;[5] government agencies may also formally put forward candidates. All citizens of the United Kingdom and Commonwealth nations can be nominated. Non-citizens are eligible for honorary awards.[6][7]

Following his retirement as Permanent Secretary to the Lord Chancellor's Office, Sir Hayden Phillips prepared a report in July 2004 to the Cabinet Secretary suggesting a reform of the current honours nomination system. The next year, following recommendations made in Phillips' report, a new system of eight committees was organised, with each committee focussing on a special area. (In 2012, an additional committee was added.)[1] The committees are composed of senior civil servants and independent experts in specific fields.[7] The majority of the honours committees are non-civil servants.[1]

Each subcommittee oversees nominations for its specialised area: Arts and Media; Community, Voluntary and Local Services; Economy; Education; Health; Parliamentary and Political Service; Science and Technology; Sport; and State.[8] The individual committees assess the nominations and pass the nominations to the Main Honours Committee, whose members select the final list of nominations that are passed to the Queen by the Prime Minister.[7]

Following the Cash for Honours scandal, the Main Honours Committee is required to determine that an individual's nomination for an honour has not been influenced by campaign and political contributions. According to the Cabinet Office's 2011 report, "The Main Honours Committee must satisfy itself that a party political donation has not influenced the decision to award an honour in any way; the committee must be confident that the candidate would have been a meritorious recipient of an honour if he or she had not made a political donation."[9]

The Cabinet's Honours Committee nominates civilians only; military honours, such as the Victoria Cross and the George Cross, are sent to the Queen by the Honours and Decorations Committee of the Ministry of Defence.[10] The honours committee also does not make nominations for peerages, which are created directly by the monarch.


Main committeeEdit

Arts and mediaEdit

Community, voluntary and local servicesEdit

  • Dame Clare Tickell DBE – Chief Executive, Hanover Housing Association (independent chair)
  • Evelyn Asante-Mensah OBE DL – Interim Chief Executive, BHA for Equality
  • Melanie Bryan OBE – social entrepreneur, Why Not Change?
  • Dilwar Hussain – Co-founder, New Horizons in British Islam
  • Dr. Angus Kennedy OBE – Chief Executive, Community Regeneration Partnership
  • John Knight CBE JP – formerly Director of Policy at Leonard Cheshire Disability and Board Member, Charity Commission
  • Dame Barbara Monroe DBE – Chief Executive, St. Christopher’s Hospice
  • Brian O'Doherty – Head of Housing, Newcastle City Council
  • Noreen Oliver MBE – Founder and Chief Executive Officer, BAC O’Connor Centre
  • Sir Nicholas Young – former Chief Executive, British Red Cross
  • Melanie Dawes CB– Permanent Secretary, Department for Communities and Local Government
  • Richard Heaton CB – Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Justice
  • Sir Derek Jones KCB – Permanent Secretary, Welsh Government
  • Mark Sedwill CMG – Permanent Secretary, Home Office
  • Chris Wormald – Permanent Secretary, Department for Education


  • Sir Ian Cheshire (independent chair) – Chief Executive Officer, Kingfisher plc
  • Dame Helen Alexander DBE – Chair, UBM plc and Chancellor, University of Southampton
  • Dame Colette Bowe DBE – former Chair, Office of Communications (Ofcom)
  • Anya Hindmarch MBE – fashion designer and businesswoman
  • Brent Hoberman CBE – entrepreneur
  • Helen Mahy – Chair, Renewables Infrastructure Group
  • Dr Yvonne Thompson CBE – entrepreneur
  • Martin Donnelly CMG – Permanent Secretary, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
  • Sue Owen CB – Permanent Secretary, Department for Culture, Media and Sport
  • John Kingham
  • Leslie Evans – Permanent Secretary, Scottish Government


  • Sir Daniel Moynihan – Chief Executive, Harris Federation (independent chair)
  • Dame Rachel de Souza DBE – Chief Executive Officer, Inspiration Trust
  • Professor Sir David Eastwood DL - Vice Chancellor, University of Birmingham
  • Dame Alison Peacock DBE DL - Chief Executive, Chartered College of Teaching
  • Dr John Guy OBE – former Principal, Farnborough Sixth Form College and Independent Chair, Surrey Health Clinical Commissioning Group
  • Dame Asha Khemka DBE – Principal and Chief Executive, West Nottinghamshire College
  • Professor Steven West CBE DL - Vice Chancellor, University of the West of England
  • Jonathan Slater – Permanent Secretary, Department for Education
  • David Sterling – Interim Head, Northern Ireland Civil Service


  • Ajay Kakkar, Baron Kakkar – Director, Thrombosis Research Institute (independent chair)
  • Dame Christine Beasley DBE – Chief Nursing Officer for England
  • Dame Ruth Carnall DBE – Chief Executive, NHS London
  • Sir Ian Gilmore – Chair, Liverpool Health Partners, University of Liverpool
  • Karen Middleton CBE – Chief Executive, Chartered Society of Physiotherapy
  • Dame Janet Husband DBE – former Chair, Royal College of Radiologists Council
  • Sir Nicholas Partridge OBE – former Chief Executive, Terrence Higgins Trust
  • Sir Simon Wessely John Maddox prize winner – Director, King’s Centre for Military Health Research, King’s College London
  • Dame Sally Davies DBE – Chief Medical Officer (England)
  • Dame Una O'Brien DCB – Permanent Secretary, Department of Health
  • Andrew Goodall – Director General, Department for Health, Social Services and Children, Welsh Government

Parliamentary and political serviceEdit

Science and technologyEdit

  • Sir John Bell FRS – Regius Professor of Medicine, University of Oxford (independent chair)
  • Sir Tony Atkinson FBA – Senior Research Fellow, Nuffield College
  • Dame Glynis Breakwell DBE DL – Vice Chancellor, University of Bath
  • Julia King, Baroness Brown of Cambridge DBE – Vice-Chancellor, Aston University
  • Martyn Rose – Director, Martyn Rose Ltd.
  • Dame Nancy Rothwell DBE FRS DL – President and Vice Chancellor, University of Manchester
  • Sir Mark Walport FRS – Chief Scientific Adviser to HM Government
  • Gareth Davies – Director-General, Knowledge and Innovation, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
  • Julie Williams CBE – Chief Scientific Adviser, Welsh Government


  • Lord Coe CH KBE – Chairman, CSM (independent chair)
  • Giles Clarke CBE – Chair, England and Wales Cricket Board and Director, International Cricket Council
  • Baroness Grey-Thompson DBE – former Paralympic athlete
  • Hon. Tim Lamb – former Chief Executive, Sport and Reaction Alliance
  • Timothy Phillips – former Chairman, All England Lawn Tennis Club
  • Graham Taylor OBE – former England Football manager
  • Sue Owen CB – Permanent Secretary, Department for Culture, Media and Sport
  • Dr. Malcolm McKibbin – Head, Northern Ireland Civil Service


  • Dame Mary Marsh DBE – Director, Clore Social Leadership Programme (independent chair)
  • Baroness Bottomley of Nettlestone JP DL – Member, House of Lords and Chair, Board Practice, Odgers Berndtson
  • Dame Suzi Leather DBE DL – former Chair, Charity Commission
  • Elizabeth McKeikan – Non-Executive Director, JD Wetherspoon plc. and former Civil Service Commissioner
  • Dr. Diana Walford CBE – former Principal, Mansfield College, Oxford
  • Dr. Suzy Walton – Deputy Chairman RSA, University of Westminster and Internet Watch Foundation
  • Sir Jonathan Stephens KCB – Permanent Secretary, Northern Ireland Office

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c "Honours Committee Post: Background" (PDF). Cabinet Office. Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 April 2015. Retrieved 12 April 2015.
  2. ^ "Knighthoods". Official Website of the British Monarchy. Retrieved 12 April 2015.
  3. ^ "The Honours System: Second Report of Session 2012–13" (PDF). House of Commons of the United Kingdom. 17 July 2012. Retrieved 12 April 2015.
  4. ^ "Recognising exceptional achievement or service". Government of the United Kingdom. Archived from the original on 14 February 2006. Retrieved 12 April 2015.
  5. ^ "The honours nomination process explained". Government of Northern Ireland. Archived from the original on 29 November 2014. Retrieved 12 April 2015.
  6. ^ "Honours nomination". Official Website of the British Monarchy. Retrieved 12 April 2015.
  7. ^ a b c "Guide to the Honours". BBC. 28 December 2012. Retrieved 12 April 2015.
  8. ^ "Honours Committees". Cabinet Office. Retrieved 12 April 2015.
  9. ^ "Second Report on Operation of the Reformed Honours System (November 2011)" (PDF). Cabinet Office. Retrieved 12 April 2015.
  10. ^ "Military Honours and Awards". Official Website of the British Monarchy. Retrieved 12 April 2015.

External linksEdit