Public Bodies Bill 2010-11
Public Bodies Bill 2010-11
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Bonfire of the quangos
Clauses 1-7 of the Public Bodies Bill confer wide-ranging powers on Ministers to abolish and merge identified entities and to modify the constitutional, funding and operational arrangements of others.
Clause 11 of the Bill provides for any of 150 organisations to be brought within
the powers outlined at Clauses 1-7, without making proper provision for
Parliament to consider the suitability of these organisations for inclusion on a
list of bodies subject to abolition or fundamental reform.
recognise that, in this climate of austerity, a variety of options for reducing public sector
spending will be considered, and that this may involve abolishing or paring back
established organisations. Our main concern is that clause 11 and the associated
schedule allows organisations – many of which have been created by primary
legislation - to be scrapped or fundamentally reformed at the imperative of a
Minister without due regard to democratic process. Liberty is further
concerned that many of the bodies now vulnerable to abolition are
which have a mandate to provide independent oversight of vital areas of
Government action and public sector activity.
House of Lords
House of Commons
11.Consideration of amendments
Allowing a Minister to make an order abolishing or fundamentally restructuring bodies created by established democratic process gives an unacceptably broad power to the executive.
This Bill follows a trend popular with the last Government of avoiding the necessary rigours of parliamentary scrutiny. Parliament plays a vital role in safeguarding our fundamental rights and freedoms. Not only does proper parliamentary scrutiny create a vital opportunity for unacceptable new laws to be amended as Bills pass through Parliament, it also gives interested parties, the general public and the press the time to consider the implications of proposed new laws.
The amendments made to this Bill are without doubt extremely important and reflect the deep-seated concerns so forcibly argued in Committee stage. But no matter how many amendments are made to this Bill, unless changes to statutory bodies are made through primary legislation the dangers of overbroad Executive power remain.
The Public Bodies Bill, as it
emerged from House of Lords, is vastly improved, not least on account of the
removal of the old clause 11 which, when combined with now omitted Schedule 7,
granted Ministers the power to add any of 150 listed bodies to those schedules
subject to the wide-ranging powers set out at old clauses 1 to 7. Liberty welcomes these
changes given our serious concern about the sweeping executive powers contained
within this Bill, even as amended, to abolish, merge and modify a number of
bodies, many of which have the important function of independently scrutinising
and overseeing government action. The amendments made to this Bill are without
doubt extremely important and reflect the deep-seated concerns so forcibly
argued in the House of Lords. But Liberty remains concerned that no matter how
many amendments are made to this Bill, unless changes to statutory bodies are
made through primary legislation the dangers of overbroad Executive power
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