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Public Bodies Bill

Volume 532: debated on Wednesday 7 September 2011

3. What steps he plans to take to put in place a system of regular review of remaining public bodies following the implementation of the provisions of the Public Bodies Bill. (69982)

The Government are committed to reviewing non-departmental public bodies every three years. The reviews will provide a much needed, robust challenge for the continuing need of individual bodies and ensure that the body is complying with recognised principles of good corporate governance.

Will the Minister remind the House how much money he anticipates will be saved as a result of the Bill? Given the spending on so many quangos, much of which is so wasteful, are we not being slightly modest in our ambitions? Is there not even greater scope in future years to save yet more money?

My hon. Friend is entirely right—he should be nudging us to be more ambitious. We have placed on record what we think is a conservative estimate of cumulative administrative savings from reforms already identified of at least £2.6 billion over the spending review period, but we expect that to be a start rather than a finish.

Is the Minister concerned that some of the public bodies may be being abolished with a little too much haste, particularly given the riots in the summer? The Youth Justice Board was very successful in reducing youth offending by around 34%. Does the Minister not worry that we will get rid of some of the bodies in too much of a hurry?

The Youth Justice Board still exists. What we have set up with the Public Bodies Bill is a framework and mechanism for enabling reform. Each Department has to come to the House with a case for reform, which needs to be debated and processed through secondary legislation. That is what we have set up, so Parliament will have plenty of opportunity to scrutinise and debate.

In 2009, it was agreed that the office of the chief coroner would be established to improve support for bereaved families. The decision was taken with support from both sides of the House. In the passage of the Public Bodies Bill, the Government have signalled that they intend to abolish the office of the chief coroner before it has even been established. Which organisations are in favour of its abolition?

The right hon. Lady knows from our Second Reading debates that there are strong opinions on this subject. I refer her to what I said before; the mechanism that we have set out is for a genuine debate on the proposed reforms. That is what the Bill enables, and she and I, or appropriate colleagues, will have that debate in Committee in forthcoming weeks and months.