Defra (the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

Defra announces changes to arm’s length bodies


Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman today announced reforms to over thirty of Defra’s arm’s length bodies.

Defra has around 90 arm’s length bodies, many of which were set up in at a time when our understanding of and engagement with environmental issues was less mainstream. Most of the things that these bodies do is now part of what the Government does as a matter of course, others are now no longer necessary.

Caroline Spelman said:

“This Government is committed to being the greenest Government ever and the Structural Reform Plan published last week sets out how Defra will play its part in achieving this. Reducing the deficit is priority for the Government and all departments are playing their part in making efficiency savings.

“Together with Chris Huhne I am determined to play the lead role in driving the sustainability agenda across the whole of government and I am not willing to delegate this responsibility to an external body.

“The effective delivery of public services is essential and I am committed to increasing the transparency and accountability of Defra’s public bodies and to reducing their numbers and costs. Times have changed since many of these bodies were set up and much of what they do is now everyday Government business.”

The Secretary of State announced that she will be:

  • Withdrawing Defra funding from the Sustainable Development Commission (SDC);
  • Abolishing the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution;
  • Abolishing the Agricultural Wages Board, the fifteen Agricultural Wages Committees, the sixteen Agricultural Dwelling House Advisory Committees and the Committee on Agricultural Valuation;
  • Abolishing the Inland Waterways Advisory Council; and
  • Abolishing the Commons Commissioners.

“We will continue to liaise closely with the Sustainable Development Commission’s partners and will work with business, civil society, local communities, universities and internationally, to help deliver sustainable development together.

“The House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee will provide powerful democratic scrutiny of Government’s work in this area.”

The arm’s length body review will make Defra a leaner, stronger department – with a renewed and clearer focus on its key priorities and a simplified structure for delivering those priorities; underpinned by a robust, credible and efficient science base.

The Secretary of State will continue to look closely at other Defra arm’s length bodies and will make any further announcements as appropriate.

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