Defra – the home of the quango and the management consultant

The total spending of this department is in the budget at £3,157,000,000 for 2009-10.

The department for the Environment, food and rural affairs, is a dab hand at spending on consultants. Last year its spending on professional services and consultancy reached the height of £573,000,000. This does include Warm Front spending which can do some good insulating people’s homes and cutting fuel bills.. The core department spent £37,000,000 on consultancy and professional services.

Its quangos include Animal health, Centre for Environment, Central Science Laboratory, Government decontamination service,Marine and Fisheries Agency,Regulatory Science Agency, Rural Payments Agency, Veterinary Laboratories Agency, Veterinary medicines Directorate,Commission for Rural Communities, Consumer Council for Water,Environment Agency,Food from Britain, Gangmasters Licensing Authority,Joint Nature Conservation Committee, Natural England, and the Sustainable Development Commission.

It has been criticised for its financial management generally, and especially for its poor management of the single payments scheme for farmers. Over one third of all the claims cost more to process than they were worth. The scheme was much delayed and the error level was high.

The Environment Agency is one of the largest government quangos. It has plenty of senior staff to argue how little resource they have, and to ration the real work it needs to do to reduce flood risk. There appear to be more men and women with pens hiring consultants than there are men in diggers clearing and improving drainage channels.Like many quangos it is good at writing memos, drawing up plans, increasing licence fees at faster rates than general inflation, cluttering the riverside with signs and instructions, and issuing warnings based on risk assessments. This is the body that thinks the way to tackle flood risk is to draw maps showing who is at risk, to put up their insurance premia, and then issue regular warnings when it rains that they might be flooded.

What the public want them to do is to get on with putting in the schemes that would remove the flood risk. Many of thse are small and cheap, entailing some dredging or clearing of existing water channels, or adding a few more land drains . Many would like to see less spent on management and lawyers, less spent on stating the obvious and making up endless risk assessments, and more on practical work to keep people’s living rooms dry. It would also help if they more robust in opposing over development in areas prone to flooding. Many of the flood problems have been brought on or made worse by permitting building on flood plain and water meadow.

The other mixed bag of quangos should be subject to review. We do not need so many of them . Their useful work could be given to a few amalgamated bodies or to elected local government. Which ones would you like abolished?

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38 Comments

  1. Posted July 28, 2009 at 7:41 am | Permalink

    Much EA and NE work could probably be devolved. Veterinary stuff I guess is just how it is – a technical profession that has to be at a certain distance but could be renamed into part of the department if you wanted to tick a box saying a QUANGO had gone.

    I’d like to see the Commission for Rural Communities kept. It’s not got a huge budget or staff level and does important work for some people and settlements that are often overlooked or stereotyped in the policymaking process. You can directly elect it if you want though it’s be an odd process and not sure it would add that much in this instance.

  2. Bill
    Posted July 28, 2009 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    As many as is possible.

    It is a disgrace that the current state of politics, or more accurately the Labour party, has left the nation in a limbo as far as public expenditure is concerned.

    Expenditure reviews and subsequent cuts have been happening in the private sector for a year now.
    Yet public finances seem to defy gravity.
    A review of public spending and taxation is required as soon as possible

  3. eeyore
    Posted July 28, 2009 at 8:16 am | Permalink

    Quangos are not getting a good press these days. Clearly there is an urgent need for a Quango Marketing Board.

  4. A.Sedgwick
    Posted July 28, 2009 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    Excellent stuff – you are in a rich vein of form. I hope DC reads these pieces and copies your hard hitting facts. A very justified flaw in HMO as been the lack of meat on the bone and with the election no more than 7 months(pre budget) away the Conservatives need to spell out policies and waste in finite detail. Regardless of the nation’s financial plight the runaway size of the state needs to be drastically curbed for the sake of democracy alone.

  5. David
    Posted July 28, 2009 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    Without wanting to defend DEFRA or its flood management, it is pretty clear that some recent building has been in silly places.

    I passed through Gloucestershire during flooding once, and you could see that (except for the immediate riverside areas) the older parts of towns stopped where the flooding started, and it was only new builds that were flooded.

    Some houses have been built in the wrong place, and it may not make sense to protect them.

  6. alan jutson
    Posted July 28, 2009 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    I blogged about the cost of Management Consultants yesterday.

    Pleased you like me feel that they are usually a waste of money.

    Amazing how complicated and expensive we can make advice to people now.

    Life is reasonably simple when you think about it :

    1. If am cold, then I put on another jumper.
    2. If you insulate your house, it will be warmer inside than if you don’t, example, tea cosy on a tea pot.

    3. If you eat mostly processed/fast food you may get fat.
    4. If you do no excercise you may get fat.
    5. If you eat too much you may get fat.

    6. If you eat fresh food and cook it yourself you may not get fat
    7. If you eat less food (but enough to sustain your body) you may not get fat.
    8. If you take regular excercise or do physical work you may get less fat and even get more fit.

    9. If you do 3. 4. 5. you may suffer with poor health.

    10. If you do 6. 7. 8. you may stay more healthy.

    Clearly life is a little more complex than this, but do we really need to be lectured to by a Nanny State to this degree.

    In bygone times many useful tips on food, and food preparation were passed down through family members, you didn’t need sell by dates, you smelled it, and inspected it befor you cooked it.

    We did not have a refridgerator in our house until I was eleven years old, but no one suffered from food poisoning, we did not waste food, it was not clinically prepackaged.

    Yes we all seem to live more busy lives now, but at what cost !!!!

    Will be pleased to see how you intend to reap the rewards of cost savings when you gert the chance John.

  7. David Belchamber
    Posted July 28, 2009 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    “Many of thse are small and cheap, entailing some dredging or clearing of existing water channels, or adding a few more land drains “.

    It is quite predictable where flooding, especially in rural areas, will occur, as ditches, gulleys, land drains etc have just not been cleaned out.

    In Wiltshire, my wife and I were walking around a village and came across a chap repairing and clearing the gullies by a bridge over a stream. In the course of a chat with him, we learned that there were about 1600 such bridges in the county. How many people employed to keep them free of flooding? Just him!

    Perhaps the government could make extra money available to councils for the period of the recession to take on unskilled youngsters and put them to work (without machines) to dig out ditches and gullies and generally tidy up the countryside.

  8. Lola
    Posted July 28, 2009 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    May I ask how one gets to be a ‘consultant’ to one of these quangos? I’d rather like to get some of my money back.

  9. Lola
    Posted July 28, 2009 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    “Which ones would you like abolished?” Oh
    come on? Surely you do not need to ask any of us that question. The answer is obvious. I’ll give you one guess.

  10. Adam Collyer
    Posted July 28, 2009 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    The Consumer Council for Water looks like a really good candidate for the chop. It exists to represent consumers of water and sewerage services. Of course, since there is no accountability at all to those consumers, it does not in reality represent them.

    According to their website, their “work” consists of: Policy Positions, Consultations, Research (i.e. surveying consumers to see what they think, so that they can be represented), Price Review 2009 (i.e. expressing their opinion on Ofwat’s Price Review – silly me, I though Ofwat were supposed to look after consumers’ interests!), Forward Work Programme (i.e. planning for future years) and Annual Review (i.e. reviewing what they did this year – as a former Welsh Secretary, you will be please to hear that the review was published in Welsh as well as English).

    The council has 86 employees and their expenditure last year was more than £6 million.

    Would anyone even notice if they were abolished?

  11. Stronghold Barricades
    Posted July 28, 2009 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    I fear that no one has yet been made “accountable” for the failings of the department. Particularly the debacle over the single payments schemes to farms.

    If no one is ever responsible for their actions how will the department ever improve?

    With regard to the consultants, surely a few well placed FoI requests will get to the bottom of what these people didn’t know that they had to spend money on outsiders. Or is this spending covering the Ministerial political advisers?

  12. Posted July 28, 2009 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    I assume a lot of these consultants are drawn from the eco- movement (eg Jonthan Porrit). This being another way, like funding fakecharities that government/civil service fund “independent” advertising and lobbying for more government/civil servants.

    However sincerely people may rationalise their beliefs half a billion annually going to people for being willing to say we need more government is awfully persuasive & I very much doubt if much of that money went to libertarian inclined “consultants”.

  13. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted July 28, 2009 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

    Your departmental reviews are confirming my thoughts but are so depressing. Every day you show how the state is gratuitously wasting colossal amounts of taxpayers’ money and interfering in every aspect of life. The opportunities for massive savings are tremendous. Why then am I depressed? Because I don’t really think that anyone is going to seriously even attempt to dismantle this mess in my life time. This thought is reinforced when I read that MPs have, without any prior public disclosure, increased their own allowances without the need for receipts.

  14. Dave B
    Posted July 28, 2009 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

    I rather like the idea of all quangos having to re-apply for their budgets, to parliament, every year.

    That way you don’t just have a ‘bonfire of the quangos’ with a change of government, but rather a constant pressure for relevance/value for money.

  15. pipesmoker
    Posted July 28, 2009 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    They could start by investing in gully machines to clear drains blocked with soil and spouting grass.

    It’s risible, basic maintenance is not carried out to existing drains in streets, they can’t cope in a shower let alone a storm.

    Gully machines used to go down a street once a week, when did you last see one at work?

  16. Alan Wheatley
    Posted July 28, 2009 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    One government minister interviewed on TV not so long ago about the policy of allowing building on flood plans replied that London is on a flood plain – do you want to stop building in London?

    So, the government response to being in a hole is to keep on digging, perhaps in the hope that lots of digging activity will divert attention from the hole!

  17. David Eyles
    Posted July 28, 2009 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

    I am very pleased to see this list as it concentrates the mind so well on an aspect of government which so often interferes with my business as a farmer.

    Firstly, your assessment of the Environment Agency is bang on. Historically, this an amalgamation of the old National Rivers Authority, the Nuclear Inspectorate, the county council waste disposal departments and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Pollution. The NRA itself was an amalgamation of the rivers authories which were (I think) part of the old nationalised water boards. In those days, these organisations were local and comprised of a lot of blokes in Land-Rovers and boots, plus one or two boffins who understood water flow and catchment areas. The boots didn’t often get out of the Land-Rovers except to do a bit of river dredging every now and again. But come a flood warning and suddenly they would all appear, as if from no-where, with lots of sandbags and high volume water pumps. In the end, they actually did something useful, but are now a shadow of their former practical use. Now, in our area, it is mostly the catchment riverside farmers who do the dredging.

    What has happened over the years is that the people who actually did practical things (engineers, scientists, blokes with boots) have been replaced by bureaucrats with GCSEs in social sciences. It is these who need to be culled. Basically, to get the Environment Agency to do the things that it needs to do in terms of flood protection and the like, it needs the boffins, the blokes with boots and about 20% of the admin staff. So it is admin where the axe needs to fall – not the scientists, not the laboratories, but the admin. Most of the savings could be passed back to the taxpayer, except in those areas where the practical purpose of the agency has almost been lost, in which case spending should be increased on boots and boffins (but if the admin budget has been cut successfully, there will still be a net saving to the taxpayer).

    From your list: Centre for Environment, Government decontamination service, Regulatory Science Agency, Veterinary medicines Directorate, Commission for Rural Communities, Consumer Council for Water, Food from Britain, Gangmasters Licensing Authority,Joint Nature Conservation Committee, and the Sustainable Development Commission are all, as far as I can tell without any first hand knowledge of the organisations, 100% admin organisations. As such they could be culled in their totality with no ill effect on anyone. The Vet Meds Directorate is essentially an EU body that we have to pay for directly. It could disappear tomoorrow with no pain felt by anyone.

    Animal health, Central Science Laboratory, Veterinary Laboratories Agency are mostly boffins which have been contaminated by too many admin and consultants. Their admin budgets should be slashed, but the boffins increased and their practical capabilities and capital in the form of laboratories, seriously enhanced.

    The Rural Payments Agency now incorporates the British Cattle Movement Service and what I think about these two organisations cannot be expressed on a polite website like this. Suffice it to say that I no longer claim any farm payments because of the confusion, hassle and sheer mindblowing interference in the way I farm. That way, whilst I may be a few thousand pounds poorer each year, at least I don’t have to put up with so many inspections. The RPA is 100% admin and could certainly function adequately with 50% of its admin budget. The systems would have to be simplified to get the work done to provide the service to the farmers, but if they can do it in the Republic of Ireland, then they can do it here. Basically, Defra has gold plated a lot of EU agricultural directives, which gives them more power than they need and interferes with farming to the point where I doubt if there is a single farmer in the country who is not guilty of transgressing some regulation or another.

    Natural England is another Environment Agency. It is too big, too powerful and has pushed its boots and boffins into a corner whilst the bureaucrats have taken over. The same recipe applies. Keep the boots and boffins and slash the admin by 50%.

    The result of such radical but neccessary action would remove a big chunk of cost to the taxpayer, but would inevitably help the productive part of the economy – particularly farming – just because a whole load of interference has been removed. By enhancing the boots and boffins side of things, we actually return to the idea of providing the taxpayer and industry with a service which is used to HELP industry, not hinder it.

    • Chris H
      Posted July 29, 2009 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

      “Animal health, Central Science Laboratory, Veterinary Laboratories Agency are mostly boffins which have been contaminated by too many admin and consultants. Their admin budgets should be slashed, but the boffins increased and their practical capabilities and capital in the form of laboratories, seriously enhanced.”

      Takes me back to when I worked for the old MAFF/ADAS set-up. The vet diagnostic labs were occupied by many keen enthusiastic staff, vets and technicians (including me), but were always being looked down on by administrators and being “trimmed” at various intervals for “cost-efficiency”. Invariably we used to lose good scientific staff around the country, to be replaced by pen-pushers or nothing at all. British agriculture deserves better. So much has changed since I left, I can’t keep up with it all any more….

      • David Eyles
        Posted July 29, 2009 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

        Yes, exactly. The livestock industry relies to a considerable extent upon the output of the Vet. Laboratories to help us. When I have taken lamb corpses to Winchester to find out exactly what was going wrong, the professionalism of the service I have received was impressive. In one case a sample was sent from Winchester to Scotland to a specialist lab to isolate exactly which strain of the bacteria it was that was causing our lambing pneumonia. This was then matched against the spectrum in the vaccine that we were using.

        Similarly, Animal Health as it is now called is seriously underfunded, with insuffient large animal vets to cope if there is an outbreak of something nasty. The 2001 FMD holocaust stretched the government vets to breaking point and beyond. It is now even worse, because they have even fewer professional staff who know what they are doing. My last visit from an official vet demonstrated that he too had spent far too long in the clutches of bureaucracy, for that is what he had become. He didn’t know how to condition score my cattle, neither did know whether a minor skin condition was caused by mites or lice. Fortunately, my own vet knew what she was doing.

        I really despair that so many good people have to spend their time covering their own arses, when in fact they should be getting doing the job that the taxpayer asks of them.

  18. Posted July 28, 2009 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    Very glad to see this issue highlighted. We all know that dredging has been neglected — to save money! — for years. Now the work has to be done, and will cost a packet. The solution, surely, is to abolish Defra, and start again, with small, locally accountable bodies comprised mainly of engineers.

    The worst crime of Defra and the plethora of similar bodies is not neglect. Their worst crime was actively hampering the people on the Norfolk coast whose homes were at risk. These started to try to help themselves; and were promptly dragged into court. I don’t mind if the state keeps the sea defences in order. I don’t mind doing it myself. But to take the money, fail to do the job, and then prevent those at risk from doing it instead… This was the face of evil.

  19. Posted July 28, 2009 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

    I’d like to see miriad NHS QUANGOs abolished. Many of these were set up to provide expertise to government, but as each one failed to deliver, or as each policy change required a new remit, new QUANGOs were set up to fill the gap.

    The result is a monumental spaghetti of QUANGOs, inter-related, interdependent and ultimately useless, which serve to make the NHS both expensive and virtually impossible to control.

    There are overlapping responsibilities which, much like the BoE, FSA, Gov triangulation, results in nobody having ultimate responsibility/accountability for failures and control of expenditure.

    If you’ve been monitoring the Select Committee meetings and reports, you will know that this mish-mash of overpaid, underqualified consultants, were responsible for Fujitsu losing the contract for CFH. Now BT has the contract. While BT is arguable infinitely more efficient and capable than Fujitsu to do so, BT is charging CFH something like 4 what Fujitsu was charging.

    Are the Conservatives monitoring this?

    Cameron says he’ll not touch the NHS. I can understand his reluctance, given the sheer complexity of unravelling this almighty mess of QUANGOs, but if he is serious about cutting government expenditure, then this is a veritable gold mine. He needs to put a task force on it to analyse its structure and cut out the cancerous bits.

    These QUANGOs are eating up money which would be much better spent elsewhere in the NHS – or better still, used to pay of Brown’s hideous debt.

    • Posted July 28, 2009 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

      Ah, pardon the typos, please!

    • Adam Collyer
      Posted July 29, 2009 at 11:43 am | Permalink

      Ah, Faustiesblog, a “Task Force” to “analyse its structure and cut out the cancerous parts”. Of course with such an important remit, it would require a large budget and many highly-paid staff. And its first output (after a couple of years no doubt given the complexity of the task) would be to produce a weighty report on the structure. The report would perhaps include recommendations for change, including amalgamation of some quangos. (Obviously as they would be larger organisations, they would require more staff than the previous ones did, but that would be a worthwhile price to pay for the increase in efficiency.) The report might also include recommendations that some quangos should be abolished, but of course that should only happen after due “consultation” to ensure no stakeholders were adversely affected. After that, of course a report would be required, outlining the outcome of the consultations and making firm recommendations for action.

      The Minister concerned could then commission some advice on the recommendations presented, and come up with a final set of proposals. These would of course be subject to consultation…have I lost you yet?

      We don’t need “Task Forces”. We need nasty, tough Ministers wielding axes, and ignoring the squeals of protest.

  20. Posted July 28, 2009 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

    “Which ones would you like abolished?”

    All of them.

    Really, the approach of stating “which ones should we get rid of” is all back to front, a far superior approach would be to ask “which ones must we keep” and then simply eliminate all of the rest.

    In fact, here’s what I’d really like to see: a manifesto commitment to abolish *all* Quango’s by the end of the second term in office, ideally with milestones for each of the first, say, 3 years, maybe:

    1. at the end of the first year a maximum of 500 Quangos to remain;
    2. at the end of the second year a maximum of 300;
    3. the figure to fall by no less than 25 in each succeeding year.

    As an approach to meeting the first goal allow me to suggest the following: each sitting MP (after the next GE) to nominate at most 25 Quangos which they think should remain — be spared the initial cull, if you prefer — and this list consolidated and used to determine the first to go, capped at the aforementioned 500 with ranking based on number of votes.

    An alternative approach: each Quango to prepare a single page statement explaining why they thing they deserve to exist, these to be published and put to a referendum with a simple yes/no vote for each. Again the cull could be based on absolute votes or a list of the X most popular could be kept.

    Yours,
    Ian.

  21. Brian E.
    Posted July 28, 2009 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

    I read your blog, I read Douglas Carswell’s blog, both seem full of good ideas and areas of concern, yet there is an ongoing silence from David Cameron and most members of his shadow cabinet. Without the party leadership showing greater enthusiasm for radical change, my position still remains that I will vote for UKIP at the next election, even if this risks a Labour government.

  22. thespecialone
    Posted July 28, 2009 at 8:19 pm | Permalink

    John

    You speak great sense. However is Mr Cameron listening? The Tories should state in your manifesto that ALL Quangoes will be looked at to see where savings can be made. They should also state that if any cannot prove their worth, they will be scrapped. And I am really talking about ALL Quangoes.

  23. Simon
    Posted July 28, 2009 at 9:17 pm | Permalink

    Those figures are astonishing, but not surprising. I remember Environment Agency boss Baroness Young on Newsnight saying “We must climate change-proof the drainage system.” to a baffled Emily Maitless during the floods. She got a £40k bonus for that shambles. The Victorians employed Joseph Bazalgette, a brilliant Engineer to sort out their drains, we employ someone who with her first utterance proves she hasn’t got a clue how a drainage system works.

  24. Monty
    Posted July 28, 2009 at 11:01 pm | Permalink

    We seem to have, in every functional area, a great string of people who do nothing but subcontract the work downstream to the next timeserver until ultimately the money runs out, or someone eventually does the actual work.

    It’s like watching that old cartoon of The Broons from the Scottish Sunday Post. Except that the Broons at least got the washing-up done.

    I have had contact with organisations which actually do useful and productive work. For example the BASEEFA wing of the HSE. The technical branches of the Civil Service used to be very good, staffed by people with some significant expertise in their field.

    But now there are too many layers, and most of them just seem to be managing the next layer, or keeping track of how effectively they are implementing policies.

    If I was looking for a benchmark to get rid of quangos, I would start at the bottom, and look for all the branches which have first-hand dealings with the public, or the private sector, or the direct deliverers of services like the Armed Forces, and I would tend to let them alone. But as soon you get to a level where they have become detatched from the real world, then start chopping them down.

    And in the field of Education, get rid of them all.

  25. Posted July 29, 2009 at 6:42 am | Permalink

    In my view all quangos should be abolished. What, after all, do we pay ministers to do if not take reasoned decisions based on their civil service? We ran the British Empire without them and won the Second World War without them.
    (I went on the Charities website yesterday. It isn’t about making sure that dead people’s legacies are respected any more. There are pages and pages about gender equality, transgender, inclusion and other totally irrelevant stuff. The Chair knows nothing (she said it) about charity work at all. She is also a paid up member of the Labour Party, with a greater income than the Prime Minister.)
    However, what is vitally important is that Mr Cameron and the shadow cabinet read, mark learn and inwardly digest your four or so last posts.
    When you are getting on for a trillion pounds in debt, sweeping away these sorts of pseuds and layabouts at Head Office ought to be an urgent priority.
    To hear Lord Mandelson speaking on Newsnight last night, you might have thought that the government was not in any form of debt, that the ministries were firing on all cylinders and that everything in the garden was lovely.

    PS We voters did notice the appalling example set yesterday by MPs about reforming their expenses.

    • Chris H
      Posted July 29, 2009 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

      The Charity Commission’s website makes me cringe. I’m on there quite often, looking for info, because I help with one (a very small one, I might add). Tiny annual turnover. Yet we get browbeaten by the CC if we don’t submit our accounts within a certain timeframe. Their email response-time is appalling and they don’t read your queries properly in the first place because they don’t answer the questions you originally asked. The fancy politics on it is virtually irrelevant to the day-to-day operations of a small concern.

  26. adam
    Posted July 29, 2009 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    By the way, chair of the sustdev commission Johnathon Porritt said in a lecture at the RSA that Sustainable development wasnt just about “the classical, physical” obejectives of reducing carbon emmissions but also about implementing worldwide socialism.

    http://www.thersa.org/events/audio-and-past-events/capitalism-as-if-the-world-matters-restructuring-the-global-economy-for-a-sustainable-future

  27. Adam Collyer
    Posted July 29, 2009 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    What about the Food Standards Agency? Given their recent report on chocolate bars http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/8173936.stm, needs some really severe pruning or abolition. Astonishingly, it is a “non-ministerial department”, i.e. it is not even responsible to any government minister!

    Their website says the following independent committees, working groups and forums advise the Food Standards Agency: General Advisory Committee on Science, Social Science Research Committee, ACAF, Better Regulation Advisory Group, ACNFP, Stakeholder Meeting on Animal Feed Issues, ACMSF, COT, Committee on Carcinogenicity, Committee on Mutagenicity, Spongiform Encephalopathy Committee, Committee on Nutrition, Working Party on Food Contact Materials, Working Party on Food Additives, Advisory Committee on Pesticides, Pesticide Residues Committee, Veterinary Products Committee, FSA Expert Group on Testing of Milk for Antibiotic Residues, Veterinary Residues Committee, Consultative Group on Campylobacter and Salmonella in Chickens, Foodborne Disease Strategy Consultative Group, Enforcement Liaison Group, Advisory Body for the Delivery of Official Controls, Meat Hygiene Policy Forum, Red Tape Working Group, Enforcement Forum, Framework Agreement Sub Group, Food Incidents Task Force, Food Standards Sampling Co-ordination Working Group, Additives and Authenticity Methodology Working Group , Food and Drink Advertising and Promotion Forum, Nutrition Strategy Steering Group, Animal Feed Law Enforcement Liaison Group, Scottish Food Enforcement Liaison Committee, Independent panel on the controls on infant formula and follow-on formula and the UK-Wide Scores on the Doors Steering Group.

    Almost forgot the Consumer Stakeholder Forum, which enables “stakeholders” (i.e. pressure groups, not the consumers themselves, obviously) to express opinions about the Agency’s work.

  28. Adrian Peirson
    Posted July 29, 2009 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

    Retired Naval commander Brian Gerrish speaks on Quangos, charities etc in this talk on common Purpose, very interesting, if not revealing.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=58Pvs-pgbic

    • Citizen Responsible
      Posted July 31, 2009 at 10:21 am | Permalink

      This reminds me of an article I read in the Asia Times online of 30/06/09 by Spengler in which he alleges that one of the best-informed people in the American security establishment told him that president Barack Obama is a “Manchurian Candidate”.

      http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/KF30Ak02.html

  29. John Gifford
    Posted July 30, 2009 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

    I agree with you sir on the Environment Agency point. There is a company that can supply an affordable solution for flooding at Pickering in North Yorkshire. The Local Mp John Greenway (Con.) has done his very best to try to get this flood protection that the town needs. The company has said it will provide on a not for profit basis, http:www.instantbarrageservices.co.uk (website have a look the whole story is there for all to see) But since 2004 the Environment agency have done nothing. Now they want to do mapping surveys and plant some trees to stop the flood water. The trees will of course take about 20 years to grow. This also assumes that they don’t get washed away by floodwater in the meantime. Something must be done. I am now of the opinion that only a change of government will work.

  30. Posted July 30, 2009 at 11:04 pm | Permalink

    Environment Agency is one to keep, as they bring in money from issueing the rod licenses required to fish in Freshwater in England & Wales – about a million of the things a year, though they’re starting to get a bit pricey:
    2009/10 Coarse & Non-Migratory Trout = £26 (not too bad)
    2009/10 Salmon, Sea Trout, Coarse & Non-Migratory Trout = £70 a year (only cost £60 in 2002, £62 in 2004, £63.50 in 2005).
    http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/homeandleisure/recreation/fishing/106684.aspx

    At least this year they’ve FINALLY replaced the traditional paper licenses (which were getting a bit too big, even when folded) with a card like thing similar to what the Conservative party give you when you join.

    Though according to my sources on some of the UK’s leading fishing websites, it’s not often you’ll find EA officers (or Police officers either for that matter) going round checking licenses…. you’ll see 2 or 3 of them going round Commercial coarse & trout fisheries checking them, but other Anglers (mostly those who fish Rivers & Canals) claim they haven’t been checked for years (but do have their licenses on them).

  31. Posted July 30, 2009 at 11:54 pm | Permalink

    Also, I agree with the Food Standard’s Agency being reformed……

    We still need them to prevent Monty Python’s “Crunchy Frog” sketch from becoming reality
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dy6uLfermPU

    But what we don’t need is them becoming a Government endorsed group of “Food Nazi’s” like the ones being campaigned against on this American website:
    http://www.consumerfreedom.com/

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, He graduated from Magdalen College Oxford, has a DPhil and is a fellow of All Souls College. A businessman by background, he has been a director of NM Rothschild merchant bank and chairman of a quoted industrial PLC.

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