Northern Ireland's Consumer Council is facing axe
The Consumer Council could be axed and replaced with a more independent body outside government, the Assembly has heard.
A £20,000 independent review of the council commissioned a year ago has concluded it may be too expensive and no longer essential to consumers.
As she launched a three-month public consultation yesterday, Trade Minister Arlene Foster rejected SDLP claims that the end of the council is a fait accompli.
Mrs Foster said: "I am a pretty straightforward kind of person. If I had had a choice as to what I preferred, I would have said it in the consultation. I am being as open as I possibly can be."
The council, which represents the public on transport, water and energy matters, said it was "business as usual" at present.