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'A bonfire of the quangos'...?

Nick Robinson | 09:05 UK time, Monday, 6 July 2009

Are you in favour of "a bonfire of the quangos"...?

You are?

Well so too is the Tory leader - it's the title of a speech he's delivering today.

David Cameron

And so is the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Liam Byrne. On Friday he promised one.

As did the shadow chancellor way back in 1995 - a man you may know called Gordon Brown.

And, I'm sure that Margaret Thatcher was in favour as well - although I can't find evidence that she used the exact phrase.*

Politicians of all colours promise to light a match underneath quangos ("quasi-autonomous non-governmental organisations" now you ask) for the same reasons. They spend a lot and they're not very democratic.

Today in a speech Mr Cameron will argue that: "The growth of the quango state is...,one of the main reasons people feel that nothing ever changes, nothing will ever get done" and promises "a massive shift in power from bureaucracy to democracy...(from) elites to people from quangos to you".

He will, no doubt, point to the creation by this government of dozens of new quangos - some estimates put it at 70.

Aware that this was coming Labour got their retaliation in first alleging that the Tories have talked about creating 17 new ones of their own - ranging from the Office of Tax Simplification and Office of Budget Responsibility to a Military inquest family advisory service and International Aid Watchdog.

So the question worth asking today is, perhaps, not why don't politicians abolish quangos but why, despite the obvious objections, they choose to create them and allow them to grow?

Partly it's because politicians are under pressure to "take the politics out of ..." many areas they have responsibility for (whether setting interest rates or managing examinations).

Partly it's because cynicism about politicians has led people to be more prepared to believe "independent" bodies (remember John Gummer force feeding his daughter with a burger to reassure about BSE?).

Partly they allow politicians to put controversial decisions at arms length from them ("Sats went wrong? Blame the QCA"). All this makes talking about abolishing quangos easier than doing it.

David Cameron today argues that there are three good roles for quangos - what he describes as "technical", "fairness" and "transparency" - but argues that they should not make policy. Thus he plans to say that: "Ofcom, as we know it, will cease to exist".

Important phrase that - "as we know it". He's not proposing scrapping the 800 strong body that regulates and acts as the competition authority for the communications industry.

He wants it to stop doing things which he believes that civil servants and politicians should - proposing, for example, how to save Channel 4 or regional ITV news.

Broadcasting industry sources tell me that perhaps just a handful of Ofcom officials deal with such matters and that once they've written their reports they hand them to the politicians to debate and decide on.

So, are we set not so much for a bonfire of quangos but for a pruning of them?

* It was three decades ago - in 1978 to be precise - that a pamphlet - The Quango Explosion - written by two Tory MPs Philip Holland and Michael Fallon first (to my recollection) got this debate moving.

Comments

Page 1 of 2

  • Comment number 1.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 2.

    I helped set up a quango covering the privatised energy market at the beginning of this decade and my gripe is:-
    There was considerable waste and excessive use of consultants to spend a generous run up budget;
    The effectiveness in achieving objectives especially when dealing with big corporations was very questionable;
    The quango was very susceptible to the government buzz of the day e.g. the false concept of fuel poverty.
    Certainly time for a review.

  • Comment number 3.


    I believe many of these " Quangos " should indeed be scrapped, but didn't Labour also promise a "bonfire of Quangos " or words similar.

  • Comment number 4.

    We live in Northampton and have a Labour government quango -- the WNDC - West Northants Development Corporation. It's role to build a massive number of houses [40,000 plus] across greenfields and farmland just to meet the population growth estimates completed by John Prescott in the early stages of the Labour government. This quango is staffed by highly paid unelected personnel. Their role to deliver a poorly thoughtout plan from central government. Problem is that the rules and the economy have changed in the meantime. People don't want or need 40,000 new homes destroying their town. But they are told -- we have to follow government guidelines and this quango will continue to roll forward regardless.
    So yes -- these quangos need to be disbanded. They are an unnecessary additional expense. The role should be handed back to democratically elected local councils. Local communities should not be controlled by extensions of central government.

  • Comment number 5.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 6.

    I guess what we really need is some sort of quasi autonomous non governmental organisation to monitor and regulate the activities of 'quangos'?

  • Comment number 7.

    It is reasonable to view the Conservatives as the Default Government.

    However, this leaves us with the constraint that they are by instinct conservative.

    Are they capable of radicalism?

    Radical Tories tend to be artists of the market although they usually have little direct experience of actually performing in markets. This is not what the country needs at this time.

    What is needed is a government that can add value by reducing costs. I think that Cameron is struggling towards that concept but is going to be constrained in that by his party. Rather than being the party of business which it thinks it is, the Conservative party is just another Big Government party: a fact Mrs Thatcher eventually found out to her cost.

    Watching Cameron is an interesting exercise at the moment. How far he can take his party with him is going to be the real test of his leadership. At the moment their lust for power keeps them in line.

  • Comment number 8.

    It's not just Westminster which is guilty of employing too many quangos.

    Look at the local Councils. They have people in charge of wheelie bin spying, climate change initiatives - the list is exhaustive and costs US a fortune.

    It's called Job Creation. Needs a bit of Constructive Dismissal under any other name.

  • Comment number 9.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 10.

    Nick, did you see Cameron on Breakfast TV?

    He specifically stated that he was not going to make the mistakes of the past and promise a Bonfire of the Quangos and when elected do precisely nothing. He did promise to analyse and advise which quangos were going to go or be cut before the election to make the commitment specific.

    So, I don't get the point of your article I'm afraid.

    I hestitate to say that it apes the Brownite strategy of inventing a 'strawman' to knock down.

  • Comment number 11.

    Quangos have become career stepping stones into the boardrooms of the private sector. Places where young Turks can do a few favours and catch the eye.

    They all love to talk about stakeholders in their reports. It says something of their mindset that it rarely occurs to them to include the public as stakeholders.

    The less of these people we have in our governance the better.

  • Comment number 12.

    Quango's do a job and have become a by product of lazy inept governments.
    they are someone for thick ministers to blame, and prime ministers to use.
    the time of the quango is over much like our pressent parliment its time for refreshing new ideas and honest government.

  • Comment number 13.

    Why should the Head of Ofcom and others get inxs of £400K plus benifits ?

  • Comment number 14.

    Is the word quangos not another word for manager? If so gordon brown will have to create another 40 thousand more to administer the new houses he proposes to create on more borrowed money, to a country thats all ready bankrupt. Is there any one out there that still supports this excuse for a government?If so i quote a famous tennis star you' ve got to be joking There are far to many of these so called administrators out there ,And back to another blog cuts are the order of the day.And start with nulabour far to many in the house doing noughting constructive anyway,I say cuts all round And have a go at the house of lords at the same time more quangos to say the least.

  • Comment number 15.

    Quangos are without doubt the biggest waste of money that this and previous governments have supported.

    Because they rely on achieving government objectives it is all too easy for them re-word, adjust or re-address statistics that help to justify their budgets and existence.

    They are all little more than the man running around a warehouse with a piece of paper looking busy but achieving nothing.

    Time they were gone. There are other ways to achieve the things they were set up for.

    More 'jobs for the boys' than any real use. Ofcom and the others have done little to really keep their industries in line, they certainly haven't kept my utility bills down!

    Shut 'em down

  • Comment number 16.

    OH, I GET IT!!!

    Cameron is not actually going to get rid of quangos at all. He is simply going to call them something else and PRETEND he has got rid of them!!

    Silly me.

  • Comment number 17.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 18.

    #15 Ofcom has not done much to sort out the Brown Broadcasting Company
    and there policy of balance reporting ?

    See no such thing as Balance in the Title of this article.

    Maybe it should have been

    The Return to Real Governement: Accountability and Responsibility

  • Comment number 19.

    Nick in April 1997 as an active NuLabour member I remember NuLabour promising to prune the 60 - 65 Quangos the Tories had created. Now under NuLabour we have in excess of 1,000. Can you comment on this?

    I feel sure that with your nuance you can spin this to rubbish the opposition.

    Nick it must be your lucky day, I will not even mention what NuLabour were saying in 1997 about fatcats. I will save that for another day.

  • Comment number 20.

    Anyone of us who has been involved or dealt with one of these unelected bodies must have come to the conclusion that a bonfire would solve half of the Country's financial problems (the other half being made of various positions within embassies, ONU, EU, regional offices, and so on).
    The real problem is timing. Until the parties set themselves a deadline by which re-organise (or better abolish) these parasites we have strong reasons to believe that this is only electioneering.

  • Comment number 21.

    16. At 10:48am on 06 Jul 2009, Gurubear wrote:
    OH, I GET IT!!!

    Cameron is not actually going to get rid of quangos at all. He is simply going to call them something else and PRETEND he has got rid of them!!

    Silly me.


    Gurubear, thought I'd better correct your typo so that your posting makes sense. Should have read Brown and not Cameron in your penultimate para.

  • Comment number 22.

    It is indeed right that quangos be put under the spotlight. Where to start, you might ask?

    How about things like GOSE - the Government of the South East, regional assemblies in general, regional development agencies, in fact all the agencies that keep central and local government apart from one another.

    Save the money on these and smaller agencies and redistribute the money to local authorities, at the same time making your local authority properly accountable to you, the electorate.

  • Comment number 23.

    The answer to quangos is simple.
    Let them be financed by a voluntary payment by their clients. Those that do something useful will be financed; those that do not will wither.

  • Comment number 24.

    #8 flamepatricia

    Super-councils given power to impose road taxes.

    Congestion charges and workplace parking fees could be imposed by unelected quangos and Local Authorities under proposed laws.

    The small print of the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Bill, which is currently going through Parliament, gives sweeping power to new organisations to control transport policy, including the power to levy taxes.

    This gives Local Authorities the potential to set up numerous Quangos.

  • Comment number 25.

    I think it is good that this matter is being addressed but I dont believe it is necessary for cuts as 'quango' jobs have essentially been able to raise awareness and to consider some of the areas that we all worry about. I see the point of them in so far as some areas of concerns are necessary to be looked at outside of the 'box'. We have a lot of people in this country that need employment. However the real problem is everyone seems to require a hugh amount of money to do their job. As soon as money is the main factor people will spread the job out as far and high and often you will get a person who is on a high salary also doing the 'quango' job for another high amount. The jobs in the public sector were, in the past, for security and a good pension. Unfortunately over the last 10 years the salaries increased beyond belief which meant spending power thereby we all have seen an increase in everything.

  • Comment number 26.

    Dont worry...

    Super Gordo will set up a Quango to carry out the invistigation!

  • Comment number 27.

    What will the gardian do if they are closed down, it published pages and pages of job adds for these orginisations

  • Comment number 28.

    Quangos are a boon for politicians because they can then maintain an interest in a topic but disclaim responsibility when things go pear-shaped.

    This is the equivalent of outsourcing of core functions by councils and commercial organisations. If things go wrong, keep your performance bonus by simply blaming the contractor.

    Basically, if you're seeking to recruit a manager who has had to actually manage, get someone who has worked for a contractor rather than a mere contract administrator at the employing organisation!

  • Comment number 29.

    Stop the messing about. We need a 30% cut in public expenditure immediately. Everyone in the public sector should have to re-apply for their jobs, with new terms and conditions. Re-appoint no more than 70% of them. They must work to 70 for a defined contribution pension scheme, just like the rest of us. Withdraw government from many areas of life, and require Parliament to reduce the total number of laws and tax-regulations - if they want to pass a new one, they must eliminate others.

    When we've done that, go for the next 20% reduction ....

  • Comment number 30.

    Further to my post @24

    The Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Bill 2008/2009 was passed after the Manchester referendum on their Toll Tax, which was clearly kicked out.

    Just goes to show how Duff and NuLabour were listening to people. He just went ahead to create a further tier of more local Quangos. Now Manchester will get the tax by the back door.

    Nick this initiative was in the small print - something I have warned you about before.

    Roll On 2010

  • Comment number 31.

    I'm sure in my Politics A-Level we were taught that Thatcher was a big fan of Quangos?

  • Comment number 32.

    29. At 11:28am on 06 Jul 2009, SecretSkivver wrote:
    Stop the messing about. We need a 30% cut in public expenditure immediately. Everyone in the public sector should have to re-apply for their jobs, with new terms and conditions. Re-appoint no more than 70% of them. They must work to 70 for a defined contribution pension scheme, just like the rest of us. Withdraw government from many areas of life, and require Parliament to reduce the total number of laws and tax-regulations - if they want to pass a new one, they must eliminate others.

    When we've done that, go for the next 20% reduction ....
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Why would you want to make every public sector worker re- apply for their job .... You do realise public sector does include Teachers/nurses/doctors/firemen/police and so on

    Also public sector workers don't get free pensions, they do contribute out of their own money, If you are talking about public sector workers ala town halls and local offices, i thionk you will find the vast majority are on well below national average earnings and the average "gold plated" pension pot that many mention is about £6.500 a year

  • Comment number 33.

    I have seen various estimates of the total cost of QANGOs that range from GBP17 - 60+ BIL. It seems to depend on how many are included within the category. 17BIL is a drop in the ocean in Brown's new environment. 60BIL is almost 10 percent of the original planned government spend for this year.

    Many (most?) QANGOs are set up so that a Department can hand-off functions and Ministers no longer become "responsible" for the day-to-day activity or the dispersal of big lumps of public money.

    Seems pretty evident that there is enormous overlap and the existence of so many specialised agencies makes it even more difficult to ensure joined up delivery of government policy.

    Every QANGO should be forced to justify its existence.
    Meanwhile, costs could and should be shaken out - starting at the top. Costs are going to have to be reduced anyway since there's nothing left in the piggy bank.

    Brown has had 12 years to get a bit of financial discipline in direct and indirect arms of government. That didn't happen.

    Regardless of Nick's comment, I'd welcome a bit of strong pruning of the QANGOs while a serious study is made of which ones should be entirely jetisoned.

    (And, by the way, Nick, why no political comment on the sudden decision to refer the MG Rover report to the Serious Fraud Office. Can't possibly be to hide any suggestion that Blair/Brown's injection of a few mllion quid (to pay the wage bill, so no employment catastrophe occured just before the election) could possibly be the misuse of public money for political gain? Course not.
    Those smart lads in Mandelson's department just spotted something that the investigators had not realised over the last 4 years... Mind you, if they had spotted some mispractice by the MG Rover board, would they have been under any obligation to report it to the SFO? You'd have thought it was a normal function of any citizen....)

  • Comment number 34.

    31. At 11:40am on 06 Jul 2009, CyberCD wrote:
    I'm sure in my Politics A-Level we were taught that Thatcher was a big fan of Quangos?

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------

    Well i'm not sure about that myself, but you have to look more at the increase in Quangos under Labour.

  • Comment number 35.

    I think Liam Byrne should keep his word and immediately disband one QUANGO that is full of unelected members.......THE CABINET......unelected PM.....unelected Lord Mandelson.......unelected Glynis Kinnock......unelected Sir Alan Sugar, Adonis, Malloch-Brown, Drayson, Baroness Royal etc, etc, etc.

    Great idea!

  • Comment number 36.

    #3 ghostworld

    You remember correctly.

    bonfire of quangos

    January 12, 1995 in Westminster Duff said:

    The biggest question is why our constitution is over-centralised, over-secretive and over-bureaucratic and why there is not more openness and accountability, The real alternative is a bonfire of the quangos and greater democracy.

    I wonder how Duff would spin this today, 12 years on and over 900 Quangos more.

    Roll on 2010 - 10 to 11 months to go.

  • Comment number 37.

    Setting up and staffing new quangos is, of course, an extremely easy way for the government to create new jobs and thus claim to have lowered unemployment. You can't help wondering how many of these organisations are set up primarily for this very function.

    The SNP promised to cut the number of quangos when they came to power in Scotland; however, it turned out to be more hassle than they envisaged. The pretty sensible idea of merging two separate sports organisations into one was highly criticised by Labour and the media (same thing, really), so I would imagine any attempts by the Tories to do the same for the UK would just be met with similar outrage.

    Let's wait and see what they actually propose, if they ever get round to that.

  • Comment number 38.

    SecretSkivver @29:

    You may wish to modify your ideas slightly unless you want 70 year old police officers, firefighters and commandos! They are all public sector too.

    I agree that here is plenty of scope for cuts in the public sector to be sure, and the pensions arrangements do need sorting out once and for all; they are simply no longer affordable, and that must include politician's pensions. Brown has bloated the public sector beyond belief, and on the surface, the ideas voiced by Cameron about testing the need for each quango is a good one. That should only be the start of course. My biggest fear is that, as ever, it will be the defence budget, already hopelessy inadequate despite being engaged in two wars, that will be seen as the easy target for cuts by Whitehall. Since none of us are gifted with second sight, we have no idea of the nature of future threats, and to suggest that they will not come in a conventional form anymore is fanciful. History suggests that lowering our national guard is extremely unwise, and in an increasingly unstable world all the more so. I wonder why the Tories are saying that overseas aid budgets will be ring-fenced, but not defence spending? I sometimes despair.

  • Comment number 39.

    Another bonfire of the Quangos:

    Treasury announces bonfire of quangos to save taxpayer millions.

    Despite government claims that the number of quangos is falling, at least 40 new bodies have been created since Gordon Brown took over as Prime Minister in June 2007. The Treasury has admitted that 160 of the biggest quangos, set up at arms length from Whitehall departments, cost the taxpayer GBP34 billion last year.

    The TaxPayers Alliance estimated that in 2006-07 there were more than a thousand quangos and agencies, which cost the taxpayer more than GBP64 billion.

    The Treasury has also admitted that the Ministry of Justice alone has 200 quangos.


    No wonder Jack is looking a little lacquered lately!

  • Comment number 40.

    well anyone proposing to get rid of ofcom gets my vote,they have done nothing to move forwards Britain's communications,instead they bend over backwards to ensure the consumer is fleeced to a maximum.

    Just trying to contact them with a complaint ,will show anyone they are unworthy of being in existence.Right thats a good start ....

  • Comment number 41.


    This shameful unelected and unaccountable face of New Labour touches everyone's lives and billions of pounds of taxpayers cash has been squandered.

    But sacking or reducing the numbers of quangos is only a small step. Cost and accountability are equally important. At the heart is the issue of democracy, where the unaccountable are run by the unelected chosen ones.

    But the government will do nothing to solve the problem, because at its heart New Labour prefers to rule by cronies, rather than democracy.

    With worthless, useless and wasteful quangos, haven't we all been taken for a ride in quangoland?


    http://theorangepartyblog.blogspot.com/2009/07/taken-for-ride-in-quangoland.html

  • Comment number 42.

    #25 truity

    How do you feel we should balance the books?

    Whitehall lines up doomsday cutbacks.

    Secret doomsday plans for 20% cuts in public spending are being prepared by senior civil servants, who fear politicians are failing to confront the scale of the budget black hole.

  • Comment number 43.

    Quangos fulfill political aims. Let's be clear both the Tories and Labour have wasted money through quangos in the past. There was one in the eighties that looked into people who felt they were pressured into joining trade unions because the industry was closed shop. Budget in the millions and they only ever had 1 case. I'm sure Labour have committed likewise attrocities with our money. Watching the Daily Politics it made me laugh to see the phrase 'So you'll create 17 quangos and you have so far promised to scrap 2; that's a net gain of 15 quangos'. Ministries need to take back the resposibilities they've dished out to quangos to save our money and perfrom functions better. The Tories won't do it but unless the leadership changes neither will Labour- it's a farce.

  • Comment number 44.

    There is certainly scope to reduce the number of non-departmental public bodies, however there will also be a cost attached. Perhaps Cameron could state how many people he expects to be made redundant as a result of his recycled policy? Surely Dave, given the tories current obsessiveness with truth and the release of information, should be able to quantify how many people he expects to "sack"?

  • Comment number 45.

    Cameron latest awful PR slogan

    a bonfire of the quangos

    Followed by a firework display of choice?

    Maybe he can roast some other old electioneering chestnuts on it like cutting public waste?

    Surely recycling of the quangos would be better for the New Cons. green agenda? thats what'll happen.

    Where's RandomVegetable?

  • Comment number 46.

    "quasi-autonomous non-governmental organisations"

    An uncomfortable and unfortunate definition.

    Are there not quangos in Nazi Germany, Stalin's Russia, and, more in modern times in supposely democratic countries?

  • Comment number 47.

    I hope Cameron DOES set fire to and destroy hundreds of these wasteful bodies. He can start with the unelected Regional Assemblies so emphatically rejected by ballot here in the North East yet undemocratically imposed by NuLab anyway. Oh yes, and Business Link, stuffed with early retired junior Bank managers and ex public sector nobodies most of whom are on index linked pensions and need to fill their empty days.

    He needn't stop there, middle management in Health, Education, Defence and Local Government is massively overstaffed.

  • Comment number 48.

    The conservatives will merely divert the funds from one set of Quangos & place them with others that they have yet to create.
    Im sure Cameron will try to call them another name, but the song will remain the same.
    Quangos where Tory manifestations that should be added to the list of things that Labour promised to sort out but, along with so many other things, they shied away from.
    Brown loves to create State funded non-jobs for paper pushers & non-productive workers, so Quangos where ideal for him to flex his muscles.
    Want to know how to save money Brown, well just get rid of the un elected quangos & jobsworths that cost us billions of pounds to employ.
    If not, then reduce the numbers, broaden their remits & strengthen their powers because at present they are as much use to Joe Public as a chocolate fireguard.

    PS: Cameron can promise all he likes because hes in opposition.
    Blair did the same, but its a completely different kettle of fish when you get into number 10 & have to face up to the Whitehall Mr Bigs.

  • Comment number 49.

    I simply love it when the discussion of Quangos comes up in the political classes from time to time. Now David Cameron is at it. I'd welcome it if he manages to achieve what he sets out. However, I cant help going back to Yes Minister, Series I, Episode 7: Jobs for the Boys.

    Quite like the egregious Jim Hacker, Mr Cameron may soon realise that it takes "Two to Quango." Even before listening to his speech, I doubt if its going anywhere! If Cameron achieves something concrete in this respect I shall be happy to eat my words....make that really, really, really happy.

  • Comment number 50.

    Nick you missed one important chappy out:

    I will put the quango state in the dustbin of history
    where it belongs.

    Guess who said that in 1996?

    Same rhetoric, same topic, just different spin.

  • Comment number 51.

    #32 ghostworld
    "Why would you want to make every public sector worker re- apply for their job .... You do realise public sector does include Teachers/nurses/doctors/firemen/police and so on

    Also public sector workers don't get free pensions, they do contribute out of their own money, If you are talking about public sector workers ala town halls and local offices, i thionk you will find the vast majority are on well below national average earnings and the average "gold plated" pension pot that many mention is about 6.500 a year"

    My point is that we need a cleansing of the Augean stables, and now is the time to do it. There are plenty of sub-standard teachers/doctors/whatever who are currently protected by archaic public-sector working practices, and should be removed. ( My wife is a teacher, and fumes at the unprofessional behaviour of several of her colleagues !)

    You have met my suggestion that public-sector workers get the same terms and conditions w.r.t. pensions with a plea for better pensions for them ! Tough - there are plenty of private sector workers in a worse situation ! Welcome to the real world !

  • Comment number 52.

    Cameron should make his first priority to set up a new non-governement body to review, monitor and limit the growth of Quangos.

    He should bring in external consultants to provide an industry perspective and ensure that it's run by people he can trust - for example old friends from Eton and Oxford.

    This could be the first in a whole range of new bodies to monitor public expenditure and reduce bureaucracy and cronyism.

  • Comment number 53.

    I so agree with your comments but I do suspect that if they really look at the costs that could be saved its a no-brainer as we need savings, and big ones, soon.

    More to the point the Tory brand still carries damage and something like this - improving transparency - will surely help that cause.

    The Lib Dems are for it.

    Therefore there would be a majority in favour whatever happened in this crazy first past the post system that permits Gordon to treat the UK as a fiefdom.

    Where is McBride and what is his story worth to democracy and perhaps the Torygraph?

  • Comment number 54.

    Can we nominate things to be pruned? Any group who has a webpage like this one: http://www.berr.gov.uk/whatwedo/bre/code/page46954.html where they manage to produce a code of practice on guidance of regulation and then feel the need to produce a guide to the code of practice on guidance ought to be near the top of the list.

    As chancellor, Brown seemed to delight in lots of complicated little rules, often to try and avoid fraud. I wonder whether it would be possible to simplify a lot of petty financial rules and regulations and save far more than was ever extracted from the system by those attempting to defraud it. No doubt other sectors of government would similarly benefit from simplification of the rules.

  • Comment number 55.

    51. At 12:52pm on 06 Jul 2009, SecretSkivver wrote:
    #32 ghostworld
    "Why would you want to make every public sector worker re- apply for their job .... You do realise public sector does include Teachers/nurses/doctors/firemen/police and so on

    Also public sector workers don't get free pensions, they do contribute out of their own money, If you are talking about public sector workers ala town halls and local offices, i thionk you will find the vast majority are on well below national average earnings and the average "gold plated" pension pot that many mention is about 6.500 a year"

    My point is that we need a cleansing of the Augean stables, and now is the time to do it. There are plenty of sub-standard teachers/doctors/whatever who are currently protected by archaic public-sector working practices, and should be removed. ( My wife is a teacher, and fumes at the unprofessional behaviour of several of her colleagues !)

    You have met my suggestion that public-sector workers get the same terms and conditions w.r.t. pensions with a plea for better pensions for them ! Tough - there are plenty of private sector workers in a worse situation ! Welcome to the real world !

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    "Real world" ??

    Do you know how the pension system works in the public sector ? and by that i mean just your average joe ... not teachers etc etc

    One of the main reasons that they may ( and i use the word ..May ) get a a pension that others compalin about is that the government did a deal that public sector pay would be kept low ( not talking FAT CATS here ) and the pensions would be mildly better ... So if you scrap the pension then the pay will have to improve

    I agree there are sub standard people in ALL sectors of the workforce and that includes the private sector.

    I further agree that there are in fact many non jobs in the public sector that are pointless... My favourite being a " nappy co-ordinator on £48.000 per year and many more of this ilk

    Being Monday and being interupted four times whilst trying to reply i appear to have lost my thread and point in this post.. So will send anyway

  • Comment number 56.

    24. At 11:08am on 06 Jul 2009, Roll_On_2010 wrote:

    "This gives Local Authorities the potential to set up numerous Quangos."

    No - not really.

    The issue seems to be that Local Authorities will choose representatives - presumably from amongst their Councillors - to represent their Council area on some Government-formed QUANGO whose remit crosses Council boundary areas. (Like the existing Thames Gateway programme).

    That way of doing business, however good or bad, does already exist in various forms.

    If it were within any one local Council's remit, it wouldn't need a QUANGO, as local Council's are a democratically elected body and could just collect tolls, or whatever, via their existing administration - much like they collect Council Tax, Rates, parking fines, etc., etc.

    And local Councils are permitted to pool resources with other Councils - in fact, it already happens in a number of areas, especially procurement. Sometimes one Council will take a lead role on some aspect of a programme such as the administration or financial payments.

    Of course, there are also some 'local authorities' that are not elected, e.g. Police Authorities, Royal Park Authorities, etc.

  • Comment number 57.

    ... a good test of whether a policy initiative is meaningful, or is strictly for the birds, is to imagine the opposite - if nobody in their right mind would run on the mirror image statement ... in this case, a platform of increasing the number and size of "Quangos" ... then the original policy statement is almost certainly meaningless, empty rhetoric - this one, as I hope you can now see, is quite a good example of exactly that

  • Comment number 58.

    Secretskiver

    I think you are mistaking an honest comment about the average 'gold plated' pension with a plea for a better one. To add another stat the average non-public sector pension is currently around £6000 BUT it is dragged down by widows and orphans pensions whereas these are separated out from the public sector average. If they are included the average is roughly the same as for the private sector.

  • Comment number 59.

    WE need to be clear there are QUANGOs and there are Non Departmental Public Bodies (NDPB), I used to be a civil servant now I work for a NDPB, which means we are funded wholly by public money but do not count as civil servants.
    NDPBs perform functions that were previously done by civil servants directly employed by the Govt. and as such all these claims about abolishing etc are rhetoric ubless you do not want these functions to be carried out. The Private Sector certainly isn't going to deliver many of these functions.
    There does need to be more public accountability of NDPBs, staff who work for these organisations are cnscious that it is public money we deal with and in my experience make decisions based on the need to be able to justify how money is spent and that we do make a real difference.
    By the way i am luck that I have a final salary pension, which on current forecasts will be worth about £8k pa.

  • Comment number 60.

    Essential this is about reforming governement expenditure and reducing waste and also bring some accountability back to voters. It might re-energise them.

    SO I hope the Axe starts to be wielded on this. At the top of the
    list should be

    CAFCASS

    followed by a root and branch reform of the Family Courts.

    This woul dhurt Nulabour Supporting barristers very hard, so Nulabour
    are not likey to go do that route then.

    But would be beificial to the tax payers of this country to the tune
    of 15Billions over a 5 year term.

    Not to be sniffed at then



  • Comment number 61.

    Yes, IR35_Survivor, the Labour government is pretty much kept in place by the barrister vote. And that really is Jesus in your TV.

  • Comment number 62.

    Nick you omitted to mention that Ofcom was itself a merger of five quangoes. At the time many staff from the Radiocommunications Agency were made redundant and that is the reason why Ofcom are now presiding over widespread pollution of the shortwave radio spectrum.

    No doubt the politicians will use the trick of merging quangoes again this time, with similarly disastrous results.

  • Comment number 63.

    7. stanilic wrote:

    Watching Cameron is an interesting exercise at the moment. How far he can take his party with him is going to be the real test of his leadership. At the moment their lust for power keeps them in line.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I dont know, it all depends on how many Tories fancy a pop at being members of the Quangos if they fail to get anywhere at local or general election level.
    Like the EU, Quangos are great places to park failed politicians,their wives, pets et al.

    Not good enough for Westminster, then never mind we will find you something to keep you out of mischief & you can even pretend to be doing something important.
    Just don't let the public know how much money its costing them.

  • Comment number 64.

    I recommend reviewing 'Jobs for the Boys' a 'yes Minister' situation comedy from 1980.

    Some things never change.

  • Comment number 65.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 66.

    57. sagamix wrote:

    ... a good test of whether a policy initiative is meaningful, or is strictly for the birds, is to imagine the opposite - if nobody in their right mind would run on the mirror image statement ... in this case, a platform of increasing the number and size of "Quangos" ... then the original policy statement is almost certainly meaningless, empty rhetoric - this one, as I hope you can now see, is quite a good example of exactly that

    =

    So the government's initiative to reduce knife crime is strictly for the birds, empty rhetoric... as nobody in their right minds would propose the "mirror image' statement, an initiative to increase knife crime.

    Saga, if this is Labour logic it's no wonder this country is heading down the Swanee! I'll forgive you as it's Monday and you clearly haven't engaged the old grey matter.

    =

    btw I think they should create a new quango to see if you can cross a quince with a mango.

  • Comment number 67.

    In the 80's these Quangos were headed by wives of the Conservative majority - because they did a degree in a vaguely related subject at University - and the government appointed their representatives to these positions!
    That was when I stopped voting for sleaze.
    Labour have made them far more fit for purpose, and unless Cameron can say it will not be Conservative wives or Conservative cronies sitting on his neo Quangos then he will not be winning my vote.

  • Comment number 68.

    It's not just quangos, it's the whole public sector that is bloated and needs some serious pruning. Look at the tax system for example. Didn't I read recently that the UK has the most complicated tax system in the whole world? This means that we need an army of bureaucrats just to keep the system going. The problem is that bureaucrats make the rules, and have a clear interest in designing them to make their own jobs proliferate.

    Now, if Dave really has the cojones to take on this system and start making some of the simplifications and cuts we so desperately need, then I will be impressed. But forgive me if I don't hold my breath. Talk is cheap.

  • Comment number 69.

    Politicians create Quangos and staff them with political friends, relatives and anyone who can be trusted to advance the politicians own pet theories!
    Politicians also create Quangos to retire to on big fat salaries when the voters kick them out!

  • Comment number 70.

    Bit of a non-event, really. I can remember the Tories promising this sort of thing back in 1983. But they still managed to leave office with more Quangos than when they started. Cameron/Brown both need to remember this: if they burn the quangos, then they'll have to employ civil servants or local gov to do the work instead - anyone for an increase in the public sector paybill?

  • Comment number 71.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 72.

    Twelve years ago Blair and Brown promised to dismantle all Quangos as they were "undemocratic, etc, etc". They didn't do it. Thanks to them we have more Quangos than ever. 70 at the last count! Now we have more of the same being promised ... no doubt more of the same will be done too ... i.e. nothing.

  • Comment number 73.

    Get rid of them all and start again from scratch and review what is really necessary and how to make what they do efficient and cost effective.

    There's never been a better time to show the taxpayer that cuts don't have to be made in front line services like the NHS and schools.

    They can be made by stripping out all of the quangos that have been political areas for shoving 'friends' into highly lucritive jobs. The idea that they are at arms length to any government is ludicrous.

    It is something that should have been done long ago even before a recession but who wanted to upset influential allies? Now there is no choice and Cameron knows it. This is a good start which could save billions of pounds.

  • Comment number 74.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 75.

    The Tories always wind me up when they bang on about cuts in public sector spending. They talk about it as if the "public sector" is some inanimate object rather than an organisation made up of human beings and that "public sector cuts" put the jobs and livelihood of civil servants on the line.

    I don't work for the public sector: I work for a private company but the private company I work for has contracts with public sector bodies - including quangos. When I hear "public sector cuts" I know that my job is also on the line.

    I've already been through one round of redundancy as a result of the credit crunch. Cuts in public sector spending will almost certainly put me and my colleagues through another one.

    And this leave me thinking "could someone please explain to me how exactly this will get us out of a recession?" From where I'm sitting "public sector cuts" can only harm not help the economy.

  • Comment number 76.

    45

    DHW

    Arf.

    A phrase coined by none other than Gordon Brown in 1995, not David Cameron. Cameron has said he "will not" engage in a bonfire of the Quangos.

    Make a sentence out of the following words: Youself, shoot, the, foot, in.

  • Comment number 77.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 78.

    47 MorpethExile

    One North East and Business Links. Staffed by overpaid civil servants seconded from departments that had no idea about business. The old DTI brigade.

    They took over a thriving cheap to run help for new enterprises scheme and have turned into a wasteful monster throwing away billions of pounds of European funding on silly training schemes no one wanted or really needed.

    It made big profits for private training organisations but the effect on SME's was and still is minimal. Numbers 1 and 2 on my list of what should go.

  • Comment number 79.

    #67 exrugbyman

    Of course no Labour politician' relatives or monied labour supporters have any relatives in Quangos? They are stuffed with them. Along with a fair sprinkling in the BBC.

    Those that can't get a position in his/her local quango is employed as a researcher. Get real, they are all at it.

    Lets face it, trimming the public sector down and reducing the massive pension bill is impossible.

  • Comment number 80.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 81.

    75

    I've already been through one round of redundancy as a result of the credit crunch. Cuts in public sector spending will almost certainly put me and my colleagues through another one.

    -------------

    Welcome to the real word buddy. Private sector jobs are being lost by the thousand, I have just had to go to Italy to close out our office their, a genuinely heartbreaking experience, and companies are going bust left right and center.

    It is astonishing that you think you should be immune from the hardships that are affecting the country, and that you think a failing private sector should continue to prop you up.

    Get some perspective.

  • Comment number 82.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 83.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 84.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 85.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 86.

    #57 saga

    You need to apply that rule to all political announcements / comments not policies. A policy to do a particular task may be laudable and should set out in detail how it will be achieved. What we have here again is an announcement that states "we want to something good" and it is a waste of space. This is not a policy from Cameron but an aspiration. It is all about the detail and sadly this is lacking again. Come on DC put some meat on the bones - you are pushing at an open door.

  • Comment number 87.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 88.

    81. At 2:43pm on 06 Jul 2009, greatHayemaker wrote:
    75

    I've already been through one round of redundancy as a result of the credit crunch. Cuts in public sector spending will almost certainly put me and my colleagues through another one.

    -------------

    Welcome to the real word buddy. Private sector jobs are being lost by the thousand, I have just had to go to Italy to close out our office their, a genuinely heartbreaking experience, and companies are going bust left right and center.

    It is astonishing that you think you should be immune from the hardships that are affecting the country, and that you think a failing private sector should continue to prop you up.

    Get some perspective.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Cuts have been going on in the public sector for a few years now, you just don't seem to hear about it or rather it being reported.

    Our local ( wont name names as i'm sure i will end up breaking some odd BBC house rule ) government offices have for the last two years had to make 15 million efficiency savings each year and this financial year till next it has to find 20 million ... so it's not all private sector cuts and it's only going to get worse for both sectors something i don't wish on either .... It does get rather sad to see the pure venom that people exchange when it comes to people losing jobs

  • Comment number 89.

    Apparently he plans to close the schools' Qualifications and Curriculum Development Agency (QCDA), which develops the national curriculum. Does this mean putting the school curriculum in the hands of politicians?

    I know precious little about the education system, but I assume (perhaps naively?) the members of QCDA are selected for their professional expertise. Can it really be a good idea to take control of the curriculum from educational specialists and give it to politically motivated novices?

    Or have I got this all wrong and it is simply a meaningless announcement that will in reality be about a bit of renaming for appearances sake?

  • Comment number 90.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 91.

    88

    If that comment came accross as bile against public sector workers, I apologise, it was meant to be no such thing.

    But I do get irritated by the attitude some (not all) have that they believe their jobs should be sacronosant, even if there is no money to pay for them. I can attest that there is no such luxury in the private sector, my company is now down to the bare bones, there is simply no more cost to cut, and we are scraping along just keeping our heads above water.

  • Comment number 92.

    In my opinion for what its worth ,Put the public sector back to the sixties where people were proud to be doing a service to the public of which they received a renumeration like every one else but for some reason greed became the norm with all and sundry thinking they were worth more than any one else and the word quango was introduced into the english dictionary never hear-ed of in my time,Never the less i supose it was a way of rewarding some of your old palls after you gained office, be it labour or Tory,promoting managers to over see managers etc etc pruning is required in all departments teachers police hospitals etc,There is of course professionals in their respected fields be it police, or teachers etc, and they should be rewarded as such but not to the extent of fat cat salaries with massive golden hand shakes only to be had by the chosen few.while others look on with envey

  • Comment number 93.

    89. At 3:12pm on 06 Jul 2009, shoot2score wrote:
    Apparently he plans to close the schools' Qualifications and Curriculum Development Agency (QCDA), which develops the national curriculum. Does this mean putting the school curriculum in the hands of politicians?

    I know precious little about the education system, but I assume (perhaps naively?) the members of QCDA are selected for their professional expertise. Can it really be a good idea to take control of the curriculum from educational specialists and give it to politically motivated novices?

    -------------------

    You can't surely be defending the management of the curriculum over the past few years?

    It is widely acknowledged that the exams system is now one enormous failure, with University's, even the ones who take on the brightest of candidates, complaining of the low knowledge levels of the students.

  • Comment number 94.

    re: 39 Roll_on_2010

    Thank you for drawing my attention to this anomoly in the Brown words/actions continuum. I do not believe that he has much credibility left.

    Csmeron is approaching this intelligently.

  • Comment number 95.

    It is astonishing that you think you should be immune from the hardships that are affecting the country, and that you think a failing private sector should continue to prop you up.
    ____________________________________________________________________

    You clearly misunderstood my post. I DO live in the real world, I work in the private sector and I've even been through one round of redundancy. Yes I know that people are losing their jobs left, right and centre: I was very nearly one of them!!!

    Public sector cuts will harm the private sector company I work for. It will reduce revenue to this private sector company and will result in job losses in this private sector company.

    This doesn't sound to me like a very sensible way to get us out of recession, does it?

  • Comment number 96.

    Sounds like Cameron is frantically back-pedalling before the policy is even announced. He can't even see through a non-controversial non-policy like this. What chance for the stuff that matters?

  • Comment number 97.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 98.

    Haye Maker, my dailly mail reading friend:

    "bonfire of the quangos".

    He was merely commenting that the whole issue of blitzing quangos is an old tired, PR move, to try and get votes.

    Cameron re-hashing it testifies to this

  • Comment number 99.

    All of these uncontrolled government funded organisations must be reined in . Sadly most of them are populated by the " great and the good " , relatives of politicians , the illegitemate of the aristocracy, retired judges, sideways promoted politicians and civil servants. All have two things in common, an inability to do the job and a salary far in excess of their worth. All of these organisations should be subject, whatever they are supposed to do, to a gross reduction in funding and a like reduction in staffing levels. If they are unable to operate under these constraints, then the management should be replaced by people who can manage.

  • Comment number 100.

    "But the government will do nothing to solve the problem, because at its heart New Labour prefers to rule by cronies, rather than democracy."

    When you post bile like this within your points, why do you expect anyone to take you seriously.

    It's like asking Oswald Mosely's opinion on honnika

 

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