House of Commons Library

Public Bodies

Published Wednesday, August 8, 2018

The European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 provides Ministers with the power to establish new public authorities to carry out functions currently undertaken by EU-wide bodies. This could result in a range of new regulatory bodies. The classification of public bodies in the United Kingdom in the recent past has been the subject of reform policies set out by central Government, with a focus on reduction of overall numbers and guidance on the justification for the creation of new bodies. Both trends are considered in this briefing.

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The European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 provides Ministers with the power to establish new public authorities to carry out functions currently undertaken by EU-wide bodies. It has been anticipated that this could result in a range of new regulatory bodies. New public bodies are also likely to be established as a result of other Brexit legislation: for example, the Trade Remedies Authority will be established under the Trade Bill 2017-2019 and at least one new environmental body will be established under legislation to be introduced in Autumn 2018.

Most public bodies that operate within the United Kingdom are established and operated by the Government. Concern over the accountability of public bodies and over arrangements for appointments to them, made by ministers, have arisen regularly. The role of Select Committees in such scrutiny has, at times, become a source of debate between Parliament and Governments.

The classification of public bodies in the United Kingdom in the recent past has been the subject of reform policies set out by central Government, with a focus on reduction of overall numbers and guidance on the justification for the creation of new bodies.

Since 2010 there have been two broad attempts at reform, the reform agenda undertaken by the Conservative-Liberal Democrat Coalition (2010-15) and the Conservative governments (2015-present).

Commons Briefing papers CBP-8376

Authors: Hazel Armstrong; Lucinda Maer; McCaffrey, Ray; Lorna Booth

Topics: Central government, Public administration

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