The House of Lords has passed the Public Bodies Bill. It began and completed its third reading in the Lords on Monday 9 May. There were votes on three amendments, which were narrowly defeated. The Bill was returned to the House of Commons for consideration of all the amendments made by the Lords.
The House of Lords defeated two amendments, moved by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath, which sought to introduce consultation processes on changes to public bodies, including consultation on the proposed abolition of Regional Development Agencies (RDAs). Explaining the amendments, Lord Hunt said: ‘Given the enormous powers that the Bill will give to Ministers – powers embracing the abolition, merger, finance and governance of a considerable number of public bodies – it seems only right that when changes are made to any of the orders listed in the Bill, the public should have a say.’
Amendment 1, which would have required Ministers to make proposals for changes to public bodies publicly available, was defeated by 185 votes to 179. Amendment 6, which concerned the nature of consultation and the Govnerment’s consideration of responses received on the proposed abolition of RDAs, was defeated by 215 votes to 172 votes.
Amendment 7, introduced by Baroness Deech, was also defeated. The amendment sought to prevent changes being made to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority and to the Human Tissue Authority unless the changes increased the cost-effectiveness of their functions. The House of Lords defeated the amendment by 209 votes to 199 votes.
A date is yet to be scheduled for consideration of the Lords amendments by the House of Commons.
The Public Bodies Bill grants new powers to ministers to reform, merge or abolish public bodies. The Bill has been the subject of reports by the Lords Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee and the Lords Constitution Committee.
After third reading in the House of Lords, a Bill that starts in the House of Commons is sent back to the Commons for it to consider the Lords amendments.
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