HC Deb 15 June 1993 vol 226 cc541-2W
Mr. Meacher

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment to whom each executive non-departmental public body sponsored by his Department is statutorily or legally responsible; and which such bodies are subject to(a) surcharge, (b) investigation by the Parliamentary Commissioner, (c) scrutiny by the Audit Commission or National Audit Office, (d) the statutory provisions for open Government which apply to local authorities, (e) performance indicators, and (f) any provisions under the citizens charters.

Mr. Gummer

[holding answer 10 June 1993]: The Department of the Environment currently sponsors 29 executive non-departmental public bodies, details of which are in "Public Bodies" and the Department's 1993 annual report (Cm. 2207). The functions and responsibilities of each non-departmental public body are specified in its founding legislation. I appoint and specify the terms of service of the members of the board of each non-departmental public body and am responsible for non-departmental public bodies' use of resources and the general framework within which they are required to operate. The chief executive of most non-departmental public bodies is designated as the non-departmental public body's accounting officer and, together with the departmental accounting officer, is liable to appear before the Public Accounts Committee to account for the use of public funds.

(a) The concept of surcharge as used in the Local Government Finance Act 1982 applies only to local authorities.

(b) The non-departmental public bodies subject to investigation by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration are:

  • Commission for the New Towns (excluding housing functions)
  • Countryside Commission
  • Housing Corporation
  • Local Government Commission
  • London Residuary Body
  • National Rivers Authority (excluding flood defence functions)
  • 542
  • Nature Conservancy Council for England (English Nature)
  • Rural Development Commission
  • United Kingdom Eco-Labelling Board
  • Urban Development Corporations (excluding town and country planning functions)

(c) The Comptroller and Auditor General, as head of the National Audit Office, is the statutory external auditor of:

  • Audit Commission
  • Countryside Commission
  • Nature Conservancy Council for England
  • Joint Nature Conservation Committee
  • Rural Development Commission

The Comptroller and Auditor General also has a statutory right to inspect the books of the National Rivers Authority and, by agreement, those of other NDPBs. Under the provisions of the National Audit Act 1983 he may also carry out examinations into the economy, efficiency and effectiveness of NDPBs for which he is the external auditor or which receive more than half their income from public funds.

The Audit Commission is the statutory external auditor of the London Pensions Fund Authority and the London residuary body.

(d) The provisions of the Local Government (Access to Information) Act 1985 apply only to those local authorities specified in the Act.

(e) As a matter of policy, all NDPBs are required to develop and use performance indicators both for their own internal management and to inform the public about their work.

(f) All NDPBs are required to apply the principles of the citizens charter in their dealings with the public.

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