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Cabinet Office: Standards-setting Bodies

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 12:34 pm on 29th March 2007.

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Photo of Lord de Mauley Lord de Mauley Deputy Chief Whip, Whips, Shadow Minister, Trade & Industry 12:34 pm, 29th March 2007

My Lords, I am most grateful for my noble and learned friend's intervention. I sincerely apologise for suggesting anything so improper.

As my noble friend Lord Norton explained, each of these aspects could be significantly enhanced if the bodies in question were to be given the protection of being put on a statutory footing. We would, I am sure, be grateful for the Minister's views on whether this can be achieved, and if not, why not.

As my noble friend Lord Norton and the noble Lord, Lord Maclennan of Rogart, said, there is a rumour that a sort of super standards-setting body may be set up. Whether or not this happens, my noble friend's point is that it is much more important that the existing ones are put on a statutory footing.

In closing, I reiterate my specific questions for the Minister. First, will he kindly give us his views on the appropriateness of the fact that board members of the public bodies for which the Cabinet Office has direct responsibility, which exist to call Ministers to account, should be appointed by those same Ministers? Secondly, as I referred to in Questions on Tuesday and in today's debate, Sir Alistair Graham has clearly voiced concern that the failure to appoint his successor risks the perception that the Government place a low priority on the maintenance of the highest standards of conduct in public life. I have suggested that the Minister might again try to give a careful explanation of his assurance about why that is an inaccurate perception. Lastly, can the Minister kindly assure noble Lords that the Government will give serious consideration to the recommendations of the Public Administration Select Committee when it reports on its stocktake of the ethical regulation of government and take those fully into account?