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Amendment 11

Part of European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill - Committee (1st Day) – in the House of Lords at 6:15 pm on 14th January 2020.

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Photo of Lord Kerr of Kinlochard Lord Kerr of Kinlochard Crossbench 6:15 pm, 14th January 2020

Perhaps I may probe a little further. The independence of this authority is important—important because we have agreed to introduce an independent authority and important to those whose affairs it will be keeping an eye on.

When I was a Permanent Secretary, I would have had no difficulty in coming to the conclusion that a number of non-departmental bodies could be abolished and their functions transferred elsewhere because it would be more efficient, effective and economical to do so. The test in paragraph 39(2) of Schedule 2 is not hard for the Executive to meet. Does the Minister think that the body is more likely to be independent, feel independent and be seen as independent if it is continually under the threat of the sentence of death in paragraph 39(1), which says that its powers can be transferred? I agree that it is a habit for quangos to survive long beyond their natural useful lives, but what is the rationale for this power transfer by regulation? Is the Minister convinced that the test of efficiency, effectiveness and economy does not slightly conflict with the requirement for independence?