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Non-Departmental Public Bodies

Volume 33: debated on Thursday 2 December 1982

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asked the Minister for Trade (1) if he will list in the Official Report the members appointed to each non-departmental advisory body associated with his Department, stating in each case the fees or salaries paid and the full-time and other known part-time appointments held;(2) if he will list in the

Official Report the members appointed to each non-departmental executive body associated with his Department, stating in each case the fees or salaries paid and the full-time and other known part-time appointments held.

asked the Minister for Trade when he last conducted an overall review of the National Consumer Council in accordance with the requirement laid down in section 7 of "Non-Departmental Public Bodies: A Guide for Departments"; on what grounds he decided to retain the body; and what areas for savings in finance and manpower were identified.

[pursuant to his reply, 29 November 1982, c. 61]: The council has 16 members at present and, together with its Scottish and Welsh subsidiaries, employs 51 staff. It meets 10 times a year. Its grant-in-aid amounted to £1·086 million in 1981–82.A review of the council in 1981 confirmed its continuing role in the representation of consumer interests. Its modest size and wide remit limit the scope for savings; but its grant-in-aid is subject to tight financial and manpower controls.

asked the Minister for Trade when he last conducted an overall review of the British Hallmarking Council in accordance with the requirement laid down in section 7 of "Non-Departmental Public Bodies: A Guide for Departments"; on what grounds he decided to retain the body; and what areas for savings in finance and manpower were identified.

[pursuant to his reply, 29 November 1982, c. 62]: The council meets three or four times a year. Its staff consists of one part-time secretary. Its costs, which amounted to £14,208 in 1981, are wholly met by the assay offices. Under the Hallmarking Act 1973, my right hon. and noble Friend appoints 10 of its members. It has 17 members at present whose appointments expire on 31 December. Reappointments and new appointments by my right hon. and noble Friend will be announced shortly.We reviewed the council in July, and concluded that the duties laid on it by the Hallmarking Act could not be better performed in other ways.

asked the Minister for Trade when last he received written advice from the Insurance Advisory Panel; and what action he has taken as a result.

[pursuant to his reply, 1 December 1982, c. 205–6]: The panel of insurance advisers was set up in March 1976 to advise the Secretary of State on the exercise of his powers under the Insurance Companies Act 1974 and, in particular, to identify potential danger areas in good time so that action could be taken to prevent crises developing. There are at present 17 advisers, with one vacancy. Those appointed cover a wide range of the insurance field with some advisers from the insurance trade unions as well as people from the companies, Lloyd's, brokers and representatives of policyholders' interests.Though there have been two meetings of the panel to discuss general policy issues—in May 1976 and in January 1979—it does not provide collective advice, written or oral. The advisers are usually consulted individually about matters within their own particular expertise and experience and their advice is taken into consideration in relation to the exercise of the Secretary of State's responsibilities under the Insurance Companies Acts.Appointments, which are unpaid, are made by the Secretary of State. No direct expenditure has been incurred in relation to the advisers since 1978–79. The fact that the panel seldom meets collectively means, for example, that it does not require a secretariat. A modest amount of routine expenditure is incurred by my officials in consulting the advisers individually, but it is not possible to estimate this separately from the total costs of officials' activities.