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Non-Departmental Public Bodies

Volume 229: debated on Friday 23 July 1993

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asked the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department if he will list each of the executive non-departmental public bodies sponsored by the Lord Chancellor's Department; to whom these bodies are responsible; whether the public bodies or their members in each case are subject to (a) surcharge, (b) investigation by the Parliamentary Commissioner, (c) scrutiny by the National Audit Office, (d) statutory provisions for open Government, (e) performance indicators and (f) provisions under the citizens charters; and whether the chairpersons and members of the boards of each of these bodies are required to declare an interest.

Of the executive NDPBs listed in Public Bodies 1992, the Authorised Conveyancing Practitioners Board, which is responsible to the Lord Chancellor, was established to develop competition in the provision of conveyancing services and to supervise the provision of those services by authorised practitioners. In response to a parliamentary question on 13 March the Lord Chancellor announced that, due to a lack of demand to become authorised practitioners, he was postponing implementation of those provisions of the 1990 Act necessary to allow the board to begin the process of authorisation.

Answers to specific questions:

  • (a) No
  • (b) Yes
  • (c) Yes
  • (d) Not applicable
  • (e) No. The decision to postpone the authorised practitioner scheme was taken before the board's performance indicators had been finalised.
  • (f) Yes. The chairman and the members of the board would be required to declare an interest.
  • Legal Aid Board

    The responses for the Legal Aid Board, which is responsible to the Lord Chancellor are as follows:

  • (a) No
  • (b) Yes
  • (c) Yes
  • (d) Not applicable
  • (e) Yes
  • (f) Yes. The board is shortly to publish a statement of its charter standards.
  • Before appointing a person to be a member of the board, the Lord Chancellor satisfies himself that the individual's financial and other interests will not prejudice his or her functions as a member of the board. The Lord Chancellor also from time to time satisfies himself as to the members continuing interests. In addition, a member must declare an interest at any time throughout their tenure when a conflict of interest arises. The provisions governing members' interests are covered by schedule 1 of the Legal Aid Act 1988.