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Public Bodies

Volume 229: debated on Tuesday 27 July 1993

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To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage how many of the public bodies for which he is responsible hold meetings in public; and if he will list them.

My Department sponsors 44 non-departmental public bodies and has policy responsibility for five public corporations. None of their board meetings is held in public. Some bodies, however, hold conferences, open days and other kinds of meetings from time to time on matters of general interest attended by members of the public.

To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage to whom each of the executive non-departmental public bodies is sponsored by the Department of National Heritage is 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.

[holding answer 23 July 1993]: My Department's executive non-departmental public bodies—NDPBs—are listed in "Public Bodies 1992", to which should be added the Geffrye museum and the Horniman museum which became executive NDPBs during the course of 1992. The functions and responsibilities of each body are specified in its founding legislation or charter.

(a) There are no surcharging arrangements.

(b) Bodies subject to the jurisdiction of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration are listed in schedule 2 to the Parliamentary Commissioner Act 1967, as amended. This includes:

  • Arts Council of Great Britain
  • British Film Institute
  • British Library Board
  • Crafts Council
  • English Tourist Board
  • Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission (English Heritage)
  • Museums and Galleries Commission
  • Trustees of the National Heritage Memorial Fund
  • Registrar of Public Lending Right
  • Sports Council

(c) All of my Department's executive NDPBs are subject to scrutiny by the Comptroller and Auditor General with the exception of the national film development Fund.

(d) There are no statutory provisions on open government which apply to executive NDPBs.

(e) Performance indicators for my Department's executive NDPBs can be found in their annual reports and are summarised in the DNH annual report 1993, Cm 2211.

(f) The principles of the citizens charter apply to all the Department's executive NDPBs. All appointments to NDPBs are made in accordance with guidance provided by the Cabinet Office and the Treasury, which requires Ministers to satisfy themselves that there is no conflict of interest.