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Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Advisory Group on Responsibility & Cost Sharing

A note on ways of working

Introduction

1. The Advisory Group on Responsibility & Cost Sharing for Animal Health has been

established by the Secretary of State, following consultation on proposals for a new

independent body. We are asked to:

responses to the consultation launched on 30 March 2009;

body, including how best to ensure its animal health policies and Defra's animal

welfare policies remain aligned;

order to maximise the benefits of its creation and the confidence of the public and

farming industry;

health and consider the way in which they should be deployed and prioritised in order

to maximise the efficiency of the new body;

2. In accordance with our terms of reference, our membership consists primarily of

representatives of the livestock industry, together with Defra budget holders for animal health

policies and their delivery, working with an independent Chair. A full list of the members is

attached: together with the independent Chair, we have 13 members from industry, including

a veterinary representative, a consumer representative, and one co-opted member; 4 budget

holders from Defra; and the CVO ex officio.

3. As a large group with a demanding remit we need to reach early agreement on how we

will work together, to ensure that we all understand the ‘rules of engagement' and know what

is going on. This note puts forward some recommendations for members' agreement.

Confidentiality of discussions

4. Members of the Group have agreed to serve in a personal capacity: they are not

‘representing' particular organisations or interest groups that may have nominated them. It is

recognised, however, that many members also have roles in representative and/or

membership organisations as well as having their own personal business roles and

relationships. And these roles and relationships all serve to enhance the Group's credibility

with the industry, which is vital to our ability to achieve our objective. We will want to be as

open as possible with stakeholders, and members should generally feel free to discuss

progress with their organisations and colleagues and feed back to and from the Group. In this

context, however, two points are important. First, we will need to ensure that our

communications are consistent. This is returned to below in paragraph 5. Second, it is also

important to note that much of what we will be discussing at meetings, and the debates we

will have around emerging recommendations, will not only be of great interest to the industry

but also, potentially, of economic significance. And whilst some of the material we will be

discussing, and the views of individual members, are already a matter of public record there

will also be new material to discuss and fresh views to be expressed, some of which may

need to be done on a confidential basis . We need to ensure that, whilst we will maintain

openness with the wider industry wherever possible, members are not placed in positions of

embarrassment as a result of confidential discussions being made public. It is

recommended that there should be explicit agreement at the conclusion of each meeting

as to what may be communicated and, in particular, whether any part of the discussion

at that meeting, and any associated papers and presentations, should be treated as

confidential to members of the Group.

Group website and communications

5. There will, quite properly, be considerable interest in our work. It has been agreed that the

Group will have its own website, which will be the primary vehicle for general

communications, providing information on membership and Terms of Reference. Subject to

the need to maintain appropriate confidentiality as discussed above, we will want to keep the

industry in touch with what we are doing, and the website can be the main vehicle for doing

this. This should include our workplan and timetable, thus enabling interested parties to

make an input on particular topics if they so wish, and regular updates on progress. This can

be done by means of a regular updating bulletin from the Chair, who will provide the channel

through which material can be posted to the website. Otherwise, and subject to the

confidentiality provisions set out above, when members do comment externally on matters

relevant to the work of the Group, a central record will need to be maintained so that all

group members can be kept informed. It is recommended that the Group website should

be the primary vehicle for external communications concerning Group business and

that members should keep the Group Secretariat informed of any non-confidential

third party communications relevant to the Group's remit.

Group workplan and timetable

 

6. A proposed outline workplan and timetable are the subject of a separate paper for

members' approval; however, there are some important matters that are relevant to our ways

of working:

different fora. We shall not want to spend time in the reinvention of wheels;

however, it is key to our remit that we should reach agreement on our advice

with respect to the new body's ‘responsibilities, scope and functions', i.e. what it

is actually going to do. It is hoped that the general principles governing this can

be agreed relatively early on so that we can move forward to ‘responsibilities,

scope and functions'; to do this we shall all need to be broadly aware of the

positions of the various stakeholders. A report on the results of consultation and

consideration of general principles will therefore be early items in our workplan.

broad range of relevant knowledge and expertise, we shall need to access other

expertise as we move forward. The workplan will therefore provide for us to

invite third parties to our meetings as appropriate, to present papers , to make

presentations, or provide comments and answer questions.

desirable for some topics to be worked on in detail in smaller sub-groups,

assisted by external advisers where appropriate (see above). All important issues

will, however, be for the whole group to ratify.

occasions when the topics under consideration require a workshop approach,

perhaps involving a full day. This will be highlighted in the workplan.

forward, spending more time on some elements and less on others within the

overall constraint of making our recommendations no later than the end of next

year. We shall need to keep this under review.

State no later than 31 December 2010. Whilst we shall no doubt wish to compile

a final report that contains all our recommendations, we shall aim as far as

possible to record our key conclusions and our outline recommendations topic by

topic as we go. This will allow us to keep Ministers informed of our emerging

thinking as we go and, insofar as it is relevant, influence the content of the draft

Bill. We can then amend or confirm our recommendations as appropriate during

the final reporting stage of our work.

Group Agenda

7. Our first meeting will be focused on setting the scene, on introductions, on agreeing ways

of working, and on the results of consultation. Thereafter, we need to ensure that all

members are kept informed of all developments relevant to the Group's remit. It is

recommended that, in addition to minutes and matters arising and the workplan topics

for that meeting, there should be the following standing items on the agenda for each

meeting:

meeting, on website postings and on other communications;

update the Group on any policy or related developments relevant to the

Group's remit;

inform the Group about any third party communications or other matters

relevant to the Group's remit;

dictated by new developments;

particular, whether any matters discussed at the meeting should be regarded

as confidential.

Rosemary Radcliffe

September 2009