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Public Bodies

Every year Government departments are required to publish detailed annual data on the public bodies which they sponsor and the public appointees who serve on them. The Cabinet Office publishes an annual document entitled Public Bodies which provides a summary of the data which individual departments have published.

What is a Public Body?

A public body is not part of a government department, but carries out its function to a greater or lesser extent at arm's length from central government. For this reason non-Ministerial departments and executive agencies are excluded from this directory, as they are departments or part of one.

Ministers are ultimately responsible to Parliament for the activities of the bodies sponsored by their department and in almost all cases (except, for example, where there is separate statutory provision) ministers make the appointments to their boards. Departments are responsible for funding and ensuring good governance of their public bodies. In this publication, each body is allocated to its sponsoring department.

The term 'public body' is a general one which includes: Non-Departmental Public Bodies (NDPBs); Public Corporations; NHS Bodies; and Public Broadcasting Authorities (BBC and S4C). There are four types of NDPB. These denote different funding arrangements, functions and kinds of activity. They are:

Executive NDPBs - established in statute and carrying out administrative, regulatory and commercial functions, they employ their own staff and are allocated their own budgets.

Advisory NDPBs - provide independent and expert advice to ministers on particular topics of interest. They do not usually have staff but are supported by staff from their sponsoring department. They do not usually have their own budget, as costs incurred come within the department's expenditure. The Commission's Regional Advisory Committees are classed as Advisory NDPBs.

Tribunal NDPBs - have jurisdiction in a specialised field of law. They are usually supported by staff from their sponsoring department and do not have their own budgets.

Independent Monitoring Boards - formerly known as 'Boards of Visitors' - 'watchdogs' of the prison system. Their duty is to satisfy themselves as to the state of the prison premises, their administration and the treatment of prisoners. The sponsoring department meets the costs.