Commons committee given power to approve changes to quangos

Posted on September 3, 2010 by

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At the end of July during a committee evidence session, Francis Maude agreed in principle to give the Commons Public Administration Select Committee the power to formally approve the creation or reorganisation of quangos – otherwise known as arm’s-length bodies.

Q69 Nick de Bois: Would you give PASC a role in approving new or reorganised arm’s-length bodies as, I think it was, the Institute for Government recommended?

Mr Maude: It is not a bad idea actually.

Mr Letwin: That is a rather attractive idea.

Mr Maude: So you can take that as a yes.

Q70 Nick de Bois: Okay, we will work on that one! What about a similar role then in approving the abolition of excessive existing arm’s-length bodies?

Mr Maude: Well, there are two processes for abolishing arm’s-length bodies. Many of them are not statutory and many of them had been established on an extra-statutory basis, and a lot of them are statutory and will require primary legislation to change their role or to abolish them. Our intention is to accomplish much of the latter part of the programme through a single Public Bodies Bill which we aim to introduce, all being well, in October or November of this year, which will obviously be subject to the usual legislative processes. As you will have seen, some departments have begun to announce some of their conclusions of the review which has been conducted, say, on a reasonably collective basis with me and my officials providing challenge to the reviews, and it has been a very productive and collaborative process, so the extent to which this Committee wishes to engage in that process is a matter we could discuss, but the timescales are somewhat compressed.

Several quangos are involved in regulating medical research including the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) and the Human Tissue Authority (HTA). The coalition government recently published a report Liberating the NHS: Report of the arm’s length bodies review which included proposals to abolish and re-organise these quangos to create a single research regulator (see previous post). With this new power, the Committee may now play a role in approving this reorganisation although details of how they will do this have not yet been announced.

Posted in: Policy