Supplementary memorandum submitted by
the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (F 70)
1. The Government has today announced a Review
of the UK Register of Organic Food Standards (UKROFS), which as
the Committee knows acts as the competent authority responsible
in the UK for the implementation of EU standards for organic produce.
In form UKROFS is a Non-Departmental Public Body (NDPB).
2. Government policy is that all executive
NDPBs should be formally reviewed every five years, with the aim
of securing improvements in the delivery of public services. Achieving
a higher quality of service delivery and making services more
responsive to meeting the needs of the people who use them are
particularly important aims. Departments are also required to
conduct a rolling programme of Better Quality Service (BQS) reviews
across all their activities, including the agencies and NDPBs
they sponsor, as well as their core functions. These reviews have
similar aims and processes to the five-yearly NDPB reviews.
3. Both the five-yearly NDPB review and
the BQS review of UKROFS have been scheduled for the current financial
year. The two reviews are combined into a single review.
4. Reviews follow a standard format. There
are two stages.
5. Stage 1, which is about to commence,
considers whether the current organisational arrangements for
providing the service are the best ones. Five options have to
is no longer needed (or it could be significantly downsized or
particular strands abolished).
maintain NDPB statusbut
may involve reorganising the NDPB's operation to deliver a more
effective and efficient service. The degree of restructuring will
depend on the extent to which the need for improvements has been
without the NDPB competing, against external bidders from the
public and private sector. Competitive tendering is required.
market testhold a competition
with the NDPB competing against external bidders from the public
and private sector. Competitive tendering is required.
is needed but does not have to be carried out by the public sector.
The review will recommend one of these options
6. Stage 2 will begin once Ministers
have decided which of the five Stage 1 options is to be adopted.
The aim of Stage 2 is to identify ways of securing real improvements
in the service provided and to make recommendations for their
implementation. The development of an effective business planning
framework is seen as an essential element in this process.
7. MAFF is responsible for the conduct and
delivery of the review. The aim will be to complete Stage 1 and
2 within six to seven months.
8. The first stage of the review is expected
to cover the following issues:
(a) The effectiveness of the present
arrangements for discharging the national "competent authority"
functions prescribed by Council Regulation (EEC) 2092/91 for regulating
organic farming taking full account of:
Government objectives for modernising
public services, particularly the need for continuous improvement
and better value for money;
Government policy on the regulation
of farming, in particular the Action Plan for Farming agreed at
the Prime Minister's farm summit on 30 March 2000, and any parallel
policy statements prepared by the devolved administrations;
the likely growth in the size and
number of businesses in the organic farming sector;
the fact that responsibility for
agriculture is now devolved to the administrations in Northern
Ireland, Scotland and Wales; and
the absence of a clear legal base
(b) The continuing need for the discretionary
functions currently exercised by UKROFS, including:
setting standards for organic produce,
either where there are no EU standards or by supplementing EU
directly certifying producers who
do not wish to register with the private sector certification
advising Ministers on organic sector
issues, including commissioning R&D.
Because UKROFS is a UK body, the Scottish Executive,
the National Assembly for Wales and the Northern Ireland Assembly
will be closely involved in the review.
6 November 2000