- Non-Departmental Public Body
United Kingdom, a Non-Departmental Public Body (NDPB) is a classification applied by the Cabinet Office, Treasury and Scottish Government to certain types of public bodies. They are not an integral part of a government department and carry out their work at arm's length from Ministers, although Ministers are ultimately responsible to Parliament for the activities of bodies sponsored by their department. The term includes the four types of NDPB (executive, advisory, tribunal and Independent Monitoring Boards) but excludes public corporations, National Health Service(NHS) bodies and public broadcasting authorities ( BBCand S4C). [Cabinet Office (2007) " [http://www.civilservice.gov.uk/documents/pdf/public_bodies/public_bodies_2007.pdf Public Bodies 2007] ", "p."6] [cite book | author=Bradley, A.W. & Ewing, K.D. | title=Constitutional and Administrative Law | publisher=Longman | location=London | edition=13th ed. | id=ISBN 0-582-43807-1 | year=2003 , "pp"291-292.]
Types of body
There are four main types of body.
These bodies consist of boards which advise ministers on particular policy areas. They are often supported by a small secretariat from the parent department and any expenditure is paid for by that department.
These bodies usually deliver a particular public service and are overseen by a board rather than ministers. Appointments are made by ministers following the Code of Practice of the
Commissioner for Public Appointments. They employ their own staff and are allocated their own budgets.
These bodies have jurisdiction in an area of the
law. They are co-ordinated by the Tribunals Service, an executive agencyof the Ministry of Justice, and supervised by the Administrative Justice and Tribunals Council, itself a NDPB sponsored by the Ministry of Justice.
Independent Monitoring Boards
These bodies were formerly known as "Boards of Visitors" and are responsible for the state of prisons, their administration and the treatment of prisoners. The
Home Officeis responsible for their costs.
Contrast with executive agencies, non-ministerial departments and QUANGOs
NDPB differ from executive agencies as they are not created to carry out ministerial orders or policy, instead they are more or less self-determining and enjoy greater independence. They are also not directly part of government like a
non-ministerial government departmentbeing at a remove from both ministers and any elected assembly or parliament. Typically an NDPB would be established under statuteand be accountable to Parliament rather than to Her Majesty's Government. This arrangement allows more financial independence since the government is obliged to provide funding to meet statutory obligations.
NDPBs are commonly referred to as
quangos. However, this term originally referred to bodies that are, at least ostensibly, non-government organisations, but nonetheless perform governmental functions.
History, numbers and powers
In March 2006 there were 882 public bodies classified by the UK government. [ [http://www.civilservice.gov.uk/other/agencies/publications/pdf/public-bodies/publicbodies2006.pdf Official list of UK Gov't public bodies, including non-departmental ones, as of 2006.] (PDF)] This total included 198 executive NDPBs, 448 advisory bodies, 40 tribunals, 21 public corporations, the
Bank of England, 2 public broadcasting authorities and 23 NHS bodies. However, the classification is conservative and does not include bodies that are the responsibility of devolved government, various lower tier boards (including a considerable number within the NHS), and also other boards operating in the public sector (e.g. school governors and police authorities).
These appointed bodies performed a large variety of tasks, for example
health trusts, or the Welsh Development Agency, and by 1992were responsible for some 25% of all government expenditure in the UK. According to the Cabinet Office their total expenditure for the financial year 2005-06 was £167 billion. [ [http://www.civilservice.gov.uk/other/agencies/publications/pdf/public-bodies/publicbodies2006.pdf Official list] (PDF)]
Critics argued that the system was open to abuse as most NDPBs had their members directly appointed by
government ministers without an election or consultation with the people. The press, critical of what was perceived as the Conservatives' complacency in power in the 1990s, presented much material interpreted as evidence of questionable government practices.
This concern led to the formation of a
Committee on Standards in Public Life[ [http://www.public-standards.gov.uk/ Committee on Standards in Public Life ] ] (the Nolan Committee) which first reported in 1995and recommended the creation of a public appointments commissionerto make sure that appropriate standards were met in the appointment of members of QUANGOs. The Government accepted the recommendation, and the Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments[ [http://www.ocpa.gov.uk/ OCPA | Home ] ] was established in November 1995.
The use of NDPBs has continued under the Labour government in office since
1997, but the political controversy associated with NDPBs in the mid-1990s has now for the most part died away. It is not entirely clear why this occurred, though proponents of the Labour Government claim it as a result of their reforms.
1997, the incoming Labour Government promised to reduce the number and power of NDPBs. Some question whether this has really happened. [ [http://web.archive.org/web/20021212135405/www.mtcp.co.uk/2002series/show5.html Mark Thomas story on Quangos] ] [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/4255709.stm BBC News Article 2005/02/11] ]
Assembly Sponsored Public Bodies
Scottish public bodies
Non-ministerial government department
* [http://www.civilservice.gov.uk/about/public/bodies.asp Civil Service information about NDPBs]
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