Agricultural Wages Board to be abolished
DEFRA Secretary Caroline has confirmed that the Agricultural Wages Board (AWB) is to be abolished.
In a statement on Defra’s ‘arm’s length bodies on Thursday, Mrs Spelman announced that she will be:
- Abolishing the AWB, the 15 Agricultural Wages Committees, the 16 Agricultural Dwelling House Advisory Committees and the Committee on Agricultural Valuation;
- Withdrawing Defra funding from the Sustainable Development Commission (SDC);
- Abolishing the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution;
- Abolishing the Inland Waterways Advisory Council; and
- Abolishing the Commons Commissioners.
The AWB and its associated committees have been in place since 1948 but their abolition comes as no surprise as Defra continues to cut back on its arm’s length bodies. The policy was a Tory manifesto commitment.
The move means agricultural workers in England and Wales will be brought within scope of the National Minimum Wages Act. Defra said it would agree with the Welsh Assembly Government the measures to bring about the abolition of the AWB.
Mrs Spelman announced the abolition of the Commission for Rural Communities and the merger of Animal Health and the Veterinary Laboratories Agency at the end of June.
Defra has around 90 arm’s length bodies. Mrs Spelman said many were set up at a time when Government’s understanding of and engagement with environmental issues was ‘less mainstream’.
“Most of the things that these bodies do is now part of what the Government does as a matter of course, others are now no longer necessary,” she said.
“This Government is committed to being the greenest Government ever and the Structural Reform Plan published last week sets out how Defra will play its part in achieving this. Reducing the deficit is priority for the Government and all departments are playing their part in making efficiency savings.
“The effective delivery of public services is essential and I am committed to increasing the transparency and accountability of Defra’s public bodies and to reducing their numbers and costs.
“Times have changed since many of these bodies were set up and much of what they do is now everyday Government business.”
She said the arm’s length body review will make Defra a ‘leaner, stronger department – with a renewed and clearer focus on its key priorities and a simplified structure for delivering those priorities; underpinned by a robust, credible and efficient science base’.
She promised to ‘look closely’ at other Defra arm’s length bodies and will make any further announcements ‘as appropriate’.