This is entry No.27, first published on 18 February 2011, of a blog on public bodies reform. Click here to view the whole blog.

The Government's remarkable turnaround on the sale of the Forestry Commission's forests in England means that clauses 17 to 19 (powers in relation to forestry) will now go, Caroline Spelman confirming in her statement to the Commons yesterday (see here) not only that the Defra consultation will be brought to an immediate end and that it will now establish an independent panel to consider forestry policy in England but also that the Government will support the removal of the forestry clauses from the Bill. Lord Greaves had already tabled some time ago notice to oppose the retention of these clauses or, as it is called in parliamentary jargon, the Question that they should stand part of the Bill. Whether this also means that the Government will agree to the Forestry Commission being removed from Schedule 7 (bodies capable of being added to other Schedules) I am not yet too sure about but presume not. However, Lord Greaves also has an amendment tabled (No.145) for its deletion from Schedule 7.

For more from Defra on the subject of the Forestry Commission, see here.

The change of heart on Forestry Commission sales should certainly help oil the wheels of the Committee proceedings which have been grinding pretty slowly but there is much to do yet. As well as a 7th day booked in for February 28, Monday 7 and Wednesday 9 March are now also pencilled in as possible future days.