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Non-Departmental Public Bodies

Volume 516: debated on Thursday 14 October 2010

11. What progress he has made in reducing the number of non-departmental public bodies and executive agencies sponsored by his Department, with particular reference to bodies responsible for further and higher education. (17265)

We are taking radical steps to reform the network of bodies sponsored by my Department. We announced this morning that we would abolish 17 partner organisations, merge eight, reconstitute two as charities and give further consideration to the future of nine more.

I thank the Secretary of State for that excellent response. Hereford college of technology is an outstanding institution, and I would welcome his visiting it if he should choose to do so at some time. Like many colleges, it labours under regulation by five separate bodies covering both further and higher education. Is there further scope to streamline the regulation of bodies covering such combined institutions?

Yes, there is further scope to simplify the landscape of further education quangos, and we intend to pursue that. There are far too many organisations, making it impossible for further education colleges to do their job, and we will remove some and simplify the whole system greatly.

Has the Secretary of State also done a U-turn on his views of Sir Philip Green, who gave advice about non-departmental public bodies? Once upon a time he said, talking about Sir Philip Green, that he had

“no time for billionaire tax dodgers who step off the plane from their tax havens…and have the effrontery to tell us how to…run our tax policies”.

Has he changed his mind on that as well?

Order. We do not need a character assessment of Sir Philip Green, what we require is comments on the subject matter of the question. The Secretary of State is welcome to volunteer them, otherwise we will move on.

I am certainly happy to answer. I have not changed my views—I think Sir Philip Green should pay his taxes in the UK.