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Tuesday, 31 July, 2001, 13:11 GMT 14:11 UK
Lady Jay applies for BBC post
Baroness Jay
Lady Jay was Health Minister from 1997-98
Baroness Jay - former Minister for Women and Leader of the Lords - has applied to be chairman of the BBC, she has announced.

In an interview with The Times, Lady Jay, 61, said she was a "good fit" for the job, which has been advertised in the national papers for the first time.

Sir Christopher Bland
Outgoing chairman Sir Christopher Bland is now chair of BT
"It's obvious if you look at the advertisement," she said.

"It looks like a very good fit. Plus, your woman thing, they've never had a woman chair."

Baroness Jay left the cabinet after the General Election in order to spend more time with her family - she is married to Aids specialist Professor Michael Adler.

The 77,950 BBC post heading the BBC's Board of Governors, as successor to Sir Christopher Bland, is part-time.

The governors' role is to ensure that the BBC is accountable to parliament, licence-fee payers and audiences - in particular they must ensure that the BBC offers value for money.

The BBC governors oversee the corporation's editorial independence and also have the power to investigate viewer or listener complaints.

A degree of controversy has touched Lady Jay, which could stand in the way of her success.

Lady Jay
She considers her application to be a return to her "roots"
Last year she was accused of lying about her schooling in order to gain public sympathy, while her sweeping reform of the House of Lords led to her being nicknamed Labour's "Scary Spice".

In her interview, Lady Jay brushed aside the notion that her Labour background could hinder her application and perhaps lead to accusations of cronyism.

"I still do not think that I should not apply for something when it is an open competition just because of how the political scales might be balanced," she said.

Other candidates for the post have not yet emerged, but they will be shortlisted by an independent panel of senior civil servants and representatives from the broadcasting industry.

The final selection will be made by Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell, who worked with Lady Jay in the government's Women's Unit.

Ms Jowell then makes a recommendation to Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Margaret Ann Jay is the daughter of former Prime Minister James Callaghan and was involved in a reform of the House of Lords which led to the removal of more than 600 hereditary peers.

She was once married to outgoing BBC Economics editor and former ambassador Peter Jay.

She has been a member of the Labour party since her teens.

Before going into politics she was a BBC broadcast journalist for 25 years and says she sees applying for the chairmanship as "going back to my roots".

Before Labour's election victory in 1997, she was an Opposition whip and health spokesman in the Lords.

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See also:

31 Jul 01 | TV and Radio
Baroness Jay's political progress
25 Jun 99 | BBC after Birt
Careful selection at the top
16 Feb 01 | UK Politics
Baroness Jay 'to quit cabinet'
10 May 99 | UK Politics
Baroness Jay answers your questions
08 Aug 98 | UK Politics
Baroness criticised over Queen remark
03 Jun 00 | UK Politics
Baroness 'lied' about schooling
18 Jul 00 | UK Politics
Lords should declare interests - Jay
04 Feb 00 | UK Politics
The Lady in the Lords
26 Apr 01 | TV and Radio
The BBC's watchdogs
25 Aug 00 | UK
The Board of governors
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