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Non-Departmental Public Bodies

Volume 408: debated on Thursday 3 July 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what steps the Government are taking to make non-departmental public bodies more representative of the community in Northern Ireland. [122233]

Appointments to the NI Administration Boards of Non-Departmental Public Bodies (NDPBs) are governed by the Code of Practice of the Commissioner for Public Appointments for Northern Ireland; Northern Ireland Office appointments are covered by the Commissioner's GB Code. The overriding principle is that selection must be based on merit, through the well informed choice of individuals who, through their abilities, experience and qualities match the needs of the body in question. The Commissioner's Code also requires Departments to ensure their processes for making appointments comply with the statutory duty under section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act, to have due regard to the need to promote equality of opportunity. The Commissioner's remit covers appointments to Executive NDPBs and HPSS bodies (and, in the case of the Northern Ireland Office, Advisory NDPBs), but all Departments routinely apply the principles of the Commissioner's Code to all appointments. The Central Appointments Unit in the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister recently developed a Public Appointments Best Practice guide to assist Departments in the application of the Commissioner's Code. A copy of the guidance has been placed in the Library. The Northern Ireland Office follows Cabinet Office Best Practice Guidance which was introduced in July 2001.Other steps taken by Departments to ensure that Boards are representative include:

advertising in the press and on the website,, and circulating to a wide range of individuals and groups a six-monthly list of forthcoming vacancies;
varied use of media advertising (special interest magazines in addition to the local press) for appointments;
providing information through leaflets, press articles and seminars;
revising nomination forms to make them less off putting and to enable greater account to be taken of non traditional career patterns;
reviewing person specifications to ensure specific groups are not inadvertently discriminated against; and
visits to voluntary and community groups to raise awareness of opportunities.

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the total expenditure out of the public purse was of each non-departmental public body in Northern Ireland in each of the last five years. [122502]

The information sought in the question is available in the "Public Bodies" publication produced annually by the Cabinet Office and made available through the Stationery Office and on the Cabinet Office website at This publication provides information on the size, spend, funding and membership of public bodies in the UK and includes non-departmental public bodies attached to the Northern Ireland Office and Northern Ireland Departments. The current edition of the publication, "Public Bodies 2002" is available in the House of Commons Library. An updated version for 2003 is currently being prepared and should be published by the Cabinet Office before the end of the year.