Public Bodies Bill committee stage: day nine

10 March 2011

Members of the Lords disagreed to  Schedule 7 – the list organisations that can be added to the other lists of public bodies that will be abolished, merged or reformed and Clause 18 – powers to allow the Secretary of State to change the constitutional arrangements of the Forestry Commissioners.

Amendments 84, 89, 94A, 95A, 98, 99A, 100, 105ZA, 113AA and 113AB, 113BA to 113BC, 113E, 114 and 118 were agreed to without voting.

Members of the Lords disagreed without voting to Clause 10: Procedure for orders,  Schedule 7: Bodies and offices subject to power to add to other Schedules, Clause 17: Powers relating to functions of Secretary of State, Clause 18: Powers relating to functions of Forestry Commissioners and Clause 19: Procedure for orders under sections 17 and 18.

Amendments 175ZA, along with Government amendments 175C, 175D, 175E, 197 and 182 were also agreed to without votes. Amendment 175C, moved by Lord Henley, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, removes references to the Forestry Commission from Clauses 23 and 24.

Report stage of the Public bodies Bill is scheduled for Wednesday 23 March.

Committee stage: day eight

Debate covered amendments Schedule 1 to 4 and clauses 2 to 4 of the Bill.  Amendments concerning proposals to merge bodies listed under Schedule 2, which includes the Youth Justice Board, the Film Council, British Film Institute and Office of Communications (Ofcom), were discussed.

Amendments 64, 72A, 74A, 76 and 79A were agreed to without voting.

Committee stage: day seven

Amendments to Clause 1: Power to abolish: bodies and offices were discussed.

Members of the Lords agreed without voting to Amendment 47 – moved by Lord Clark of Windermere, a former chair of the Forestry Commission – to remove regional advisory committees established under the Forestry Act 1967 from the bodies listed in Schedule 1. Clause 1 gives ministers power to abolish bodies in Schedule 1.

Lord Judd and Lord Taylor of Holbeach supported the amendment.

Explaining the amendment, Lord Clark said that with amendment 47 the House was ‘also discussing a series of amendments which relate to forestry issues.’ He said that regional advisory committees performed the function of allowing ‘thinking on a regional basis’ so that national policies could be devolved from ‘England level down to the regions.’

Lord Judd explained that it was ‘important for advisory committees to continue’ as a ‘significant way in which to give meaning to this sense of ownership by the people as a whole, because it is possible for the local arguments to be heard and taken into account.’

Further information

The Public Bodies Bill grants new powers to allow Ministers to reform, merge or abolish public bodies.  

The Public Bodies Bill has been the subject of reports by two House of Lords select committees. The Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee published reports on 15 and 23 November 2010. The Constitution Committee published a report on 3 November 2010.

The committee stage of a Bill involves the detailed line-by-line examination of the separate parts – clauses and schedules.

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