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Public Bodies Orders

25 February 2020

The Public Bodies Act 2011 gives Ministers the power to draft an Order to abolish, merge or modify the constitutional or funding arrangements of the public bodies listed in Schedules 1 to 5 of the Act. The Act also sets out tests that must be satisfied, for example, whether the change improves economy and accountability.

The Scrutiny process

From the day on which the draft Order is laid, the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee has 30-days to consider the draft.  The Order must be accompanied by an Explanatory Document that explains how the responsible Department believes the tests set out in the Act are satisfied.

The Committee may decide to clear the Order - in which case after the 40th day it can be debated, like an ordinary affirmative instrument.

If the Committee wishes to seek further information or has concerns, it can decide whether the enhanced affirmative procedure (introduced by the Act) should apply. The enhanced procedure increases the scrutiny period by a further 30-days (making 60 days in total), and allows the Committee to make recommendations to the Minister who must then have regard to them. After the 60th day the Order can be debated or the Minister may chose to amend the draft.

There is more detail about the scrutiny process in the Committee's 50th Report of session 2010-12 

Further information

If you have concerns or opinions on a Public Bodies Order or any other aspect of the Committee's work please contact us on telephone 020-7219 8821 or  email

Guidance for departments on public bodies orders ( PDF 214 KB)  - information on how the Committee scrutinises PBOs and what it is looking for in an effective Explanatory Document