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PLANS TO STRENGTHEN STANDARDS IN PUBLIC BODIES ANNOUNCED

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Proposals to strengthen standards of openness, accountability and propriety in public bodies were today announced b...
Proposals to strengthen standards of openness, accountability and propriety in public bodies were today announced by public service minister Roger Freeman.

The proposals are set out in a White Paper - 'The Governance of Public Bodies: A Progress Report'; the government's direct response to the Nolan Committee's Second Report on 'Local Public Spending Bodies', issued in May 1996.

The White Paper's main proposals and new developments include:

-- a review of the position of every executive NDPB with a view to extending the ombudsman's jurisdiction in this sector as widely as possible. Consideration will be given to bringing advisory bodies into jurisdiction for the first time;

-- a model code for staff of NDPBs and fuller and clearer guidance on Codes of Practice for Board Members of Public Bodies covering in particular rules on conflicts of interest;

-- a commitment to action in taking forward the committee's recommendation for greater use of consultative arrangements bringing together local public bodies and local authorities;

-- a proposed National Consultative Forum to bring together key interests in public sector audit, to be led by the NAO, the Audit Commission and Accounts Commission for Scotland;

-- details of thousands of appointments to executive NDPBs and NHS bodies are now available on the Internet.

Commenting on the White Paper, Mr Freeman said that it 'provides a clear and comprehensive account of how public bodies in this country are regulated and run. The government has responded very positively to the Nolan committee's reports, and this White Paper tells a positive story. The committee's reports, and the government's detailed response, finally lay to rest the already discredited myths about 'quangos' and those who serve on them.

'The government believes that the Nolan committee's reports have made a signal contribution to reassuring the public that it can have confidence in our system of public administration. By examining public bodies carefully and realistically, the committee has performed a valuable service for public administration in the United Kingdom. The White Paper shows that the government has accepted virtually all of the recommendations concerning public bodies which the committee has made in its two reports.

The White Paper makes clear how important it is to maintain the distinctive nature and status of different public service sectors while ensuring that frameworks for propriety, efficiency and responsiveness of all of them are fully up to best practice standards, and can reflect the seven Principles of Public Life set out by the Nolan committee.'

-- Copies of the government's White Paper (Cm 3557) are available from the Stationery Office bookshops, priced£13.80 (ISBN 0-10-135572-6).

-- Copies of the 'Government's Response to the First Report from the Committee on Standards in Public Life (July 1995 - Cm 2931) and Spending Public Money: Governance and Audit Issues (March 1996 - Cm 3179) are also available from the Stationery Office bookshops priced£7.10 and£8.65 respectively.

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