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Public Bodies Act 2011

 

Public Bodies Act 2011

Public Bodies Act 2011
Long title An Act to confer powers on Ministers of the Crown in relation to certain public bodies and offices; to confer powers on Welsh Ministers in relation to environmental and other public bodies; to make provision about delegation and shared services in relation to persons exercising environmental functions; to abolish regional development agencies; to make provision about the funding of Sianel Pedwar Cymru; to make provision about the powers of bodies established under the National Heritage Act 1983 to form companies; to repeal provisions of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 relating to appeals to the Chief Coroner; to make provision about amendment of Schedule 1 to the Superannuation Act 1972; and for connected purposes.
Citation 2011 c 24
Territorial extent United Kingdom
Dates
Royal Assent 14 December 2011
Status: Amended

The Public Bodies Act 2011 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It has 39 sections and six schedules, and is concerned with the management of public bodies within the UK.

Contents

  • Long title 1
  • Territorial extent 2
  • Background 3
  • History 4
  • Commencement Orders 5
  • Description 6
  • Impact 7
  • Further reading 8
  • References 9

Long title

The long title of an Act (shown in the infobox opposite) is of significance because it forms part of the Act, and is the 'first of the elements of an Act... that can be used to find the meaning of the Act, and generally its scope.' in future legal decisions.[1]

Territorial extent

The Act extends to England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, except in the case of amendments and repeals made by the Act which have the same extent as the legislation which is being amended or repealed. An order made under the Act which repeals, revokes or amends an enactment extending to any other jurisdiction may also extend there.[2] Sections one to five of the Act could, in principle, affect devolved matters – that is, matters which are the responsibility of the Scottish Parliament,[3] Welsh Assembly,[4] or Northern Ireland Assembly.[5] As a result of this, the consent of these bodies for the provisions in the Act was obtained as part of the legislative process.

Background

In the lead up to the UK General Election, 2010, all three major parties had made reference in their manifestos to a commitment to what had been referred to as ‘the quango state’;[6] a situation where ‘in the UK, many [government] departments can…be characterised as hubs in which the vast majority of…budgets are channelled to and from arms’ length bodies.’ For example, in March 2013, the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs employed less than a quarter of the number of staff as one of the non-departmental public bodies which it parented, and NHS England had a budget of three-quarters of its parent, the Department of Health (United Kingdom).[7] This had, to some commentators, created a number of problems of governance, accountability, and effectiveness, including lack of clarity of the respective roles of departments as opposed to the arms-length bodies, and insufficient capacity in the Cabinet Office to sponsor and monitor the bodies correctly.[8]

Responding to this situation, the Conservative-led Government after the election quickly initiated a review of the status of non-departmental public bodies, to collate a definitive list of arms-length bodies, (which perhaps surprisingly, had not existed previously) [9] establish whether their functions should be carried out, and if so, whether they should remain at arms’ length from their parent department.

The ‘Maude Review’ (unofficially named he Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude the senior sponsor of the review) concluded that a large number of bodies should either be disestablished, or merged with others. On 14 October 2010, Maude submitted a written ministerial statement in which he stated that:

The landscape for public bodies needs radical reform to increase transparency and accountability, to cut out duplication of activity, and to discontinue activities which are simply no longer needed… My review process has covered 679 HM Government's non-departmental public bodies (NDPBs), as well as 222 other statutory bodies such as some non-ministerial Departments and some public corporations. Substantial reforms are proposed for over half of these bodies. Many public bodies will be retained and will remain at arm's length from Government. They will be expected to become more open, accountable and efficient... To enable these proposed changes, the Government will shortly introduce a Public Bodies Bill, which will give Ministers power to make changes to named statutory bodies.'[10]

History

The Bill referred to in Maude's statement was introduced in the House of Lords on 28 October 2010, by John Taylor, Baron Taylor of Holbeach.[11]

After passage through the Lords, it transferred to the House of Commons, and was given Royal Assent (and thus became an Act) on 14 December 2011.[12]

Commencement Orders

Since Royal Assent, there have been a number of commencement orders approved in relation to it.[13]

Description

The Act has three Parts and six Schedules.

Impact

From 2010 levels, the number of arms-length bodies had reduced by 200 at January 2013,[14] and 285 by March 2015.[15]

Further reading

  • Dommett, K and Flinders, M (2014) ‘The Centre Strikes Back: Meta-Governance, Delegation, and the Core Executive in the UK, 2010-2014, Public Administration, 93:1 pp. 1–16
  • House of Commons Hansard, http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/hansard/commons/
  • House of Lords Hansard, http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/hansard/lords/

References

  1. ^ Gifford, D J; Salter, John. How to Understand an Act of Parliament, p.19.  
  2. ^ "Public Bodies Act, Explanatory Notes". Parliament.uk. Retrieved 13 April 2015. 
  3. ^ "Public Bodies Act, Explanatory Notes". Parliament.uk. Retrieved 13 April 2015. 
  4. ^ "Public Bodies Act, Explanatory Notes". Parliament.uk. Retrieved 13 April 2015. 
  5. ^ "Public Bodies Act, Explanatory Notes". Parliament.uk. Retrieved 13 April 2015. 
  6. ^ Dommett and Flinders, p. 6
  7. ^ Dommett and Flinders, p. 4
  8. ^ Dommett and Flinders, p. 5, Table 1
  9. ^ Dommett and Flinders, p. 6
  10. ^ "Public Bodies Reform". House of Commons. Retrieved 13 April 2015. 
  11. ^ "Public Bodies Bill, first reading". Parliament.uk. Retrieved 13 April 2015. 
  12. ^ "Royal Assent". Parliament.uk. Retrieved 13 April 2015. 
  13. ^ "Search for 'Public Bodies Act 2011' on Legislation.gov.uk". Parliament.uk. Retrieved 13 April 2015. 
  14. ^ "Public Bodies 2012" (PDF). Cabinet Office, HM Government. Retrieved 14 April 2015. 
  15. ^ "Public Bodies 2014, p. 3" (PDF). HM Government. March 2015. Retrieved 18 Apr 2015. 
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