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Public Administration Review

Volume 451: debated on Tuesday 7 November 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what progress has been made in implementing the Review of Public Administration in Northern Ireland. (99522)

I have been given overall ministerial responsibility for the implementation of the Review of Public Administration (RPA) decisions. The Head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service, Nigel Hamilton, is personally leading the oversight of the change process, and has established an RPA steering group to oversee the reforms.

Project teams have been established within departments to drive forward implementation. A central unit has been established within the office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister that will oversee the implementation process and support the steering group

The Local Government (Boundaries) (NI) Order 2006 is in operation, establishing the number of councils at seven and setting out procedures for the Local Government Boundaries Commissioner, who was appointed on 1 June 2006 for a 12-month period. His interim report is due on 7 November.

A DOE Local Government Taskforce has been established to examine and report on key issues and work continues to complete the legislation proposals for the Local Government (Structures) Order and the Local Government (Transfer of Functions) Order by February 2007.

The Chief Executive (Designate) of the proposed new Health and Social Services Authority has been appointed and the Authority will be formally established from 1 April 2008. Legislation to establish the five new trusts has already been made and the trusts are now operating in shadow form. The Chairs were appointed on 1 August and the Chief Executives were appointed on 1 September 2006. The existing trusts will be abolished on 1 April 2007. Work continues to complete the drafting of legislation proposals for Health and Social Services Reform by February 2007.

The Department of Health Social Services and Public Safety is currently consulting on the following:

(i) the Draft Transfer of Staff, Assets and Liabilities Orders for the new HSS Trusts;

(ii) draft proposals for a statutory Joint Committee for Commissioning health and social services; and

(iii) the Human Resources Framework for Health and Personal Social Services.

In the Education Sector, the appointment of the Chief Executive (Designate) of the Education and Skills Authority is expected in November 2006 and work continues to complete the legislation proposals for Education Restructuring by April 2007.

In other areas, work is under way on the rationalisation of Non-Departmental Public Bodies (NDPB). Through the merging of some bodies and transferring functions to central or local Government, the number of NDPBs will be reduced from more than 80 to around 50.

The Public Service Commission was established in March 2006 to safeguard the interests of staff affected by decisions of the review.