Non-ministerial government department

Non-ministerial government departments (NMGDs) are a type of British government department that deal with matters for which direct political oversight has been judged unnecessary or inappropriate. They are headed by senior civil servants. Some fulfil a regulatory or inspection function, and their status is therefore intended to protect them from political interference. Some are headed by a permanent office holder, such as a Permanent Secretary or Second Permanent Secretary.[1]


The status of an NMGD varies considerably from one to another. For example:[2]

  • Senior officials in HM Revenue and Customs work closely with cabinet ministers. Its key policies are set each year in the Finance Act. However, neither ministers nor parliament can interfere in day-to-day taxation decisions.
  • A number of NMGDs are highly independent bodies; for example the Charity Commission, Ofsted and economic regulators such as the Competition and Markets Authority or the Postal Services Commission. These bodies are "creatures of statute": – that is they implement legislation which they have no power to change. Their political independence is assured by providing that they have the status of government departments, but are accountable only to parliament and the courts. Their budgets are usually set by the Treasury, not by the department which set them up, and they are often funded by licence fees paid by the industries which they regulate.
  • The Food Standards Agency is an NMGD which was created by merging two large parts of the Departments of Health and what was then the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. The aim was to reassure the public (after the BSE/vCJD crisis) that decisions about food safety would in future be taken by an independent body free of political control. Because the FSA was designed to take politics out of food safety, it does not seek ministerial approval for its actions, even when negotiating and agreeing to European legislation on behalf of the UK.

List of non-ministerial departments

A list of NMGDs is maintained by the Cabinet Office, which currently states that the following 20 are in existence:[3]


  1. ^ Government Departments and Agencies Archived 10 October 2012 at the Wayback Machine, Government, Citizens and Rights, DirectGov.
  2. ^ How to be a Civil Servant, What is a Civil Servant?
  3. ^ Non-ministerial Departments, Retrieved 16 October 2017
Assets Recovery Agency

The Assets Recovery Agency (ARA) was a non-ministerial government department in the United Kingdom. It was established under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA) to reduce crime by confiscating the proceeds of any crime. It was granted a new power of civil recovery through the High Court, and could also take over the powers of the HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to levy tax without identifying a source for taxed income.

The ARA became operational in February 2003, but it failed to meet its targets for the confiscation of criminal funds. It was announced in January 2007 that it would be merged with the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA), which was established in 2006. Provisions to achieve this were contained in the Serious Crime Act 2007. There were also proposals for other law enforcement agencies, such as HMRC, to be given similar powers of civil recovery at the same time. On 1 March 2008, the transfer of the Director and staff of the Assets Recovery Agency, its property, rights and liabilities to SOCA and the National Policing Improvement Agency started in anticipation of the Agency's abolition. The agency ceased to exist on 1 April 2008.

Attorney General's Department (Sri Lanka)

The Attorney General's Department is a non-ministerial government department in Sri Lanka that supports the Attorney General and his/her deputy the Solicitor General. The department is headed by the Attorney General and comes under the purview of the Ministry of Justice. The office of "Attorney General" was formally adopted in the year 1884.

Charities Commission

Charities Commission or Charity Commission may refer to:

Charities Commission (New Zealand), the former name of Charities Services

Charity Commission for England and Wales, the non-ministerial government department that regulates registered charities in England and Wales

Charity Commission for Northern Ireland, the independent regulator of Northern Ireland charities

Charity Commission for England and Wales

The Charity Commission for England and Wales is the non-ministerial government department that regulates registered charities in England and Wales and maintains the Central Register of Charities.

The Charity Commission answers directly to the UK Parliament rather than to Government ministers. It is governed by a board, which is assisted by the Chief Executive (currently Helen Stephenson CBE who succeeded Paula Sussex in July 2017) and an executive team.The current Chair is Tina Stowell, Baroness Stowell of Beeston MBE, who succeeded William Shawcross in 2018.

The commission has four sites in London, Taunton, Liverpool and Newport. Its website lists the latest accounts submitted by charities in England and Wales.

Department of Archaeology (Sri Lanka)

The Department of Archaeology (Sinhala: පුරාවිද්‍යා දෙපාර්තමේන්තුව, romanized: Purāvidyā Depārtamēntuva, Tamil: தொல்பொருளியல் திணைக்களம், romanized: Tolporuḷiyal Tiṇaikkaḷam) is a non-ministerial government department in Sri Lanka responsible for managing the archaeological heritage.

Department of Examinations

The Department of Examinations is a non-ministerial government department of the Sri Lanka and the national examination service. It comes within the purview of the Ministry of Education. The department is responsible for carrying out public examinations such as the General Certificate of Education Ordinary Level (SL) and Advanced Level and other state sector examinations. It also carries out other examinations.

The head of the department is Commissioner General Of Examinations. Commissioners, Deputy Commissioners and Assistant Commissioners of Examination form the assisting body to the Commissioner Genral.

Department of Forest Conservation (Sri Lanka)

The Department of Forest Conservation (Sinhala: වන සංරක්‍ෂණ දෙපාර්තමේන්තුව Vana Sanrakshana Departhamenthuwa) is a non-ministerial government department responsible for forestry in Sri Lanka. Its mission is to protect and expand Sri Lanka's forests and woodlands. The head of the department is the Conservator General, Mr.Sathurusinghe. It comes under the purview of the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources.

It has limited policing powers in protected forest areas to stop illegal poaching and logging, with the power to arrest suspects.

Department of National Museum (Sri Lanka)

The Department of National Museum is a non-ministerial government department in Sri Lanka responsible for maintaining the National Museums. There are other museum in the country run by the Department of Archaeology and the Central Cultural Fund, Sri Lanka.

Department of Survey (Sri Lanka)

The Department of Survey of Sri Lanka (also known as the Department of the Surveyor General) (Sinhala: ශ්‍රී ලංකා මිනින්දෝරු දෙපාර්තමේන්තුව Shri Lanka Minindoru Departhamenthuwa) is a non-ministerial government department in Sri Lanka. Established on 2 August 1800, it is the oldest unchanged government department in the country. The department is responsible for national surveying and mapping. It is also the national focal point of GIS and Remote Sensing with representation in the Global Mapping Project organised by the International Steering Committee for Global Mapping (ISCGM). The head of the department is Surveyor General of Sri Lanka.

Department of Wildlife Conservation (Sri Lanka)

The Department of Wildlife Conservation (Sinhala: වනජීවී සංරක්‍ෂණ දෙපාර්තමේන්තුව Vanajivi Sanrakshana Departhamenthuwa) is a non-ministerial government department in Sri Lanka. It is the government department responsible for maintaining national parks, nature reserves and wildlife in wilderness areas in Sri Lanka. Forest reserves and wilderness areas are maintained by the Department of Forest Conservation. The head of the Department is the Director General of Wildlife Conservation, formally known as Warden. It was established in October 1949 with Captain Cyril Nicholas, MC as its first Warden.

Food Standards Agency

The Food Standards Agency is a non-ministerial government department of the Government of the United Kingdom. It is responsible for protecting public health in relation to food in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. It is led by a board appointed to act in the public interest. Its headquarters are in London, with offices in York, Birmingham, Wales and Northern Ireland. The agency had a national office in Scotland until the formation of Food Standards Scotland in April 2015.

Government Legal Department

The Government Legal Department (previously called the Treasury Solicitor's Department) is the largest in-house legal organisation in the United Kingdom's Government Legal Service.

The Department is headed by the Treasury Solicitor. This office goes back several centuries. The office was enshrined in law by the Treasury Solicitor Act 1876, which established the Treasury Solicitor as a corporation sole (an office with perpetual succession). Employees of the department exercise legal powers which are vested in the corporation sole.

The department is a non-ministerial government department and executive agency. The Treasury Solicitor reports to the Attorney General for England and Wales. The department employs more than 1,900 solicitors and barristers to provide advice and legal representation on a huge range of issues to many government departments.

National Infrastructure Commission

The UK National Infrastructure Commission is the non-ministerial government department responsible for providing expert advice to the UK Government on infrastructure challenges facing the UK.One of its main tasks is to undertake a national infrastructure assessment during each Parliament. It also undertakes studies in specific areas of infrastructure. The Commission makes recommendations to the government, and monitors the government's progress on infrastructure.

National Records of Scotland

National Records of Scotland is a non-ministerial department of the Scottish Government. It is responsible for civil registration, the census in Scotland, demography and statistics, family history and the national archives and historical records.National Records of Scotland was formed from the merger of the General Register Office for Scotland and the National Archives of Scotland in 2011, and combines all the functions of the two former organisations.The offices of Registrar General for Scotland and Keeper of the Records of Scotland both continue, and are combined in the person of Paul Lowe, Chief Executive of National Records of Scotland

National Savings and Investments

National Savings and Investments (NS&I), formerly called the Post Office Savings Bank and National Savings, is a state-owned savings bank in the United Kingdom. It is both a non-ministerial government department and an executive agency of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Historically, the aim of NS&I has been to attract funds from individual savers in the UK for the purpose of funding the government’s public sector borrowing requirement (i.e., the funds in excess of taxation that the government requires to fund its expenditure). NS&I attracts savers through offering savings products with tax-free elements on some products, and a 100% guarantee from HM Treasury on all deposits.

Office of Fair Trading

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) was a non-ministerial government department of the United Kingdom, established by the Fair Trading Act 1973, which enforced both consumer protection and competition law, acting as the United Kingdom's economic regulator. The OFT's goal was to make markets work well for consumers, ensuring vigorous competition between fair dealing businesses and prohibiting unfair practices such as rogue trading, scams, and cartels. Its role was modified and its powers changed with the Enterprise Act 2002.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) announced reforms to the consumer protection and competition regimes. Under the provisions of the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) was established on 1 April 2014 combining many of the functions of the OFT and the Competition Commission and superseding both. Regulation for the consumer credit industry passed from the OFT to the new Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) from April 2014.

Office of Rail and Road

The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) is a non-ministerial government department responsible for the economic and safety regulation of Britain's railways, and the economic monitoring of Highways England.

ORR regulates Network Rail by setting its activities and funding requirements for each Control Period, ensuring train operators have fair access to the railway network, and enforcing compliance with its network licence. ORR also regulates High Speed 1 and the Channel Tunnel. It is the competition authority for the railways and enforces consumer protection law in relation to the railways.From April 2015 ORR assumed responsibility for monitoring Highways England's management of the strategic road network – the motorways and main 'A' roads in England – and advising the Secretary of State for Transport on the levels of funding and performance requirements for each Road Period.


The Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual) is a non-ministerial government department that regulates qualifications, exams and tests in England and, until May 2016, vocational qualifications in Northern Ireland. Colloquially and publicly, Ofqual is often referred to as the exam "watchdog".

Sri Lanka Customs

The Sri Lanka Customs (Sinhala: ශ්‍රී ලංකා රේගුව Shri Lanka Reguwa) is a non-ministerial government department, which performs the duties of collecting customs duties and other taxes and levies in Sri Lanka, under the oversight of the Ministry of Finance. The executive responsible is the director general, currently Mrs. P.S.M. Charles, appointed in September 2017.Formally known as HM Ceylon Customs from 1947 to 1972, the department can trace its roots to 1806. Formally, the agency as it exists today was formed under the Customs Ordinance No. 17 of 1869, to which 51 amendments have been made to date. Being a center for trade in the Indian Ocean since antiquity, however, the history of collection of customs duties in Sri Lanka dates far back as 2nd century BC.The department works with the powers vested under the Customs Ordinance, as well as through several other related enactments. The major functions of the department include the collection of government revenue as customs duty and other levies on behalf of several other government authorities and securing the nation's ports of entry with relation to the import and export of both commercial and personal goods. As such, it has limited policing powers, such as in the areas of the arrest and detention of possible suspects contravening customs and import/export laws, as well as the confiscation of contraband.


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