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NIC stripped of its independence and “set up to fail”

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This afternoon the government has quietly released a Written Ministerial Statement which confirms concerns that the National Infrastructure Commission will not be established as an independent statutory body.

This is despite previously stating “(The NIC’s) successful delivery will require the Commission to be objective, work independently and have a proper governance structure.” (para 85, p33)

The NIC will now be established as an administrative adjunct – an “executive agency” – of the Treasury meaning it will have fewer powers, diminished independence, and will not be answerable to Parliament.

Quote

Sepi Golzari-Munro, Head of E3G’s UK Programme said:

““The NIC is being set up to fail. The NIC’s success depends on its ability to be, and to be seen to be, independent of Government. The decision today risks undermining NIC’s credibility and ability to offer independent advice. It signals that this government is unwilling to put itself under effective independent scrutiny.”

Available for comment

Sepi is available for commentary – please contact her directly, Sepi.Golzari-Munro(at)e3g.org, 0786 731 4zero zero4

ENDS

Notes to Editors

  1. Simon Kirby MP, The Economic Secretary to the Treasury, made a Written Ministerial Statement on the National Infrastructure Commission this afternoon (http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-statement/Commons/2016-10-12/HCWS181)
  2. The Government stated in a consultation published on 26 May that the success of its assessment of national infrastructure was dependent on full independence: “The NIA is a long-term strategic assessment covering a broad spectrum of infrastructure issues and sectors. Its successful delivery will require the Commission to be objective, work independently and have a proper governance structure.” (para 85, p33) (https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/525950/National_Infrastructure_Assessment_Consultation.pdf)
  3. In April 2016 E3G published advice on a governance model for the National Infrastructure Commission https://www.e3g.org/library/national-infrastructure-commission-a-governance-model-fit-for-the-future
  4. A proposed model for the NIC had been based on the independent Office for Budget Responsibility – a Non Departmental Public Body whose independence has been secured through the ‘The Budget Responsibility and National Audit Act 2011’. This Act gives the OBR complete discretion in the performance of its duties, as long as those duties are performed objectively, transparently and independently. The OBR is itself answerable to Parliament.
  5. E3G is an independent global think tank, working to accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy. E3G specializes in climate diplomacy, climate risk, energy policy and climate finance.
  6. In 2016, E3G was ranked the number one environmental think tank in the UK by the Go To Think Tank Index, second in Europe and sixth in the World.

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