Ministers gain more powers under Public Bodies Act

NESTA to be abolished under the Public Bodies Act

The National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts will be the first public body to be abolished under controversial ministerial powers in the Public Bodies Act.

NESTA's remit is to support and promote talent, innovation and creativity in science, technology and the arts. It is funded by the return on its National Lottery endowment, currently valued at £321 million.

The government proposes to abolish NESTA as a non-departmental public body and establish it as a charity with a separate charitable trust to hold the National Lottery endowment.

The Public Bodies Act, which came into force on December 14, 2011, gives ministers the power by order to abolish, merge or modify public bodies and offices originally established in primary legislation.

The use of this power by ministers is subject to a new scrutiny procedure set out in the Act. The House of Lords has agreed that the Merits Committee should examine draft orders before they are put to the House for approval.

The powers in sections 1 to 5 of the Act allow a minister of the Crown to:

  • by order abolish any body or office listed in Schedule 1;
  • by order merge any group of bodies or offices listed in Schedule 2;
  • by order modify the constitutional arrangements of any body or office listed in Schedule 3;
  • by order modify the funding arrangements of any body or office listed in Schedule 4;
  • by order modify the functions of a body or office, or transfer its functions to an eligible person, listed in Schedule 5.

Click here to read the the bill and see the organisations listed in the schedules.