Time for a quango review

Now Public Health England and Ofqual have shown their capacity to make headlines and to raise the issue of how independent they are of Ministers, it is a good time to ask how many of these so called independent bodies do we need?

I have long argued there is no such thing as an independent public sector body. It is possible for one to appear to be independent and to act on its own for a long time if there is political agreement about its role and if it performs well or avoids the searchlight of media criticism. As soon as what it does becomes contentious or is done badly, Ministers are expected to sort it out and often held to blame for the original lapses by the organisation.

The best model is for Ministers to accept they will be held responsible for the work of these bodies,and for them to hold regular reviews of the policy, conduct and success of these organisations to satisfy themselves they can defend them if necessary. It is a good job to give to experienced Ministers of State on behalf of busy Cabinet Ministers. When I used to do this, I typically held a budget meeting once a year to go over their financial bids for the year ahead, a meeting to review the previous year’s work and achievements at the time of the Annual report, and strategic or issue meetings if necessary.

The Minister cannot assume an independent body is putting in an acceptable bid for resources. He or she also needs to provide some check on the wish of many of these bodies to put up fees and charges on people using their services, especially where the use is involuntary because the person has to buy a permit or licence from them . The Minister may need to explain the public sensitivities and reaction to the quango to its senior personnel. If things start to go wrong the Minister needs to request better performance. In bad cases management would have to be changed.

All this is a lot of work. It also comes with additional cost, as the quango will want its own headquarters and other facilities, its own computer systems, own accounting system, audit and the rest. Much of this could be supplied more cheaply by doing the work within the Department using the common facilities of government. Its top management may be offered higher salaries and there will be more of them than if the function is run within the department. There needs in each case to be some offsetting benefits for these additional costs.

In some cases the Agency is able to attract specialist talent and a good CEO to offer higher quality service and more efficiency than the sponsor Department could do. In other cases it is just an added overhead, with more difficulty for the Minister to control the body and get the quality and volume of work out of it the public and government needs. Now would be a good time to review these bodies in each department, and come up with a 5 year plan to manage them out or ensure their success under correctly skilled and motivated management. Far too much activity is hived off in this way, leading to crises for government , the Quango and the Minister concerned when something goes wrong as with Public Health England and Ofqual recently.

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232 Comments

  1. Andy
    Posted August 24, 2020 at 5:23 am | Permalink

    Crises in government are caused by government not by quangos.

    The exam fiasco was caused by Gavin Williamson and Nick Gibb. They should be sacked.

    The failure to tackle Covid early on was caused by Boris Johnson, Dominic Cummings and Matt Hancock.

    The failure of Brexit is caused by Brexit ministers.

    The main issue is unqualified ministers – many of whom have no relevant skills – coming in and making a mess of things.

    I mean, you genuinely have to be mad to suggest abolishing Public Health England in the middle of a pandemic. And yet the fools have au suggested it.

    This government really is beyond useless.

    • Lynn Atkinson
      Posted August 24, 2020 at 6:10 am | Permalink

      Andy your defence of PHE says it all. It is indefensible, literally. You allow them to get away with murder, literally. You do NOT allow a minister an inch of leeway. Therefore you have made JR’s point. To get better service we need the Civil Service doing the job accountable to the Minister responsible and you on their heels.
      PS you have Proven the inverse too – the civil servant, Frost, under a responsible minister doing a cracking job of Brexit.
      We could not do without you on this page. Anyone dithering is secured in their opinion the moment you specify the alternative.
      So Big Love (as the Multi-millionaire Remainer and special needs burger flipper, Jamie Oliver would say)

      • a-tracy
        Posted August 24, 2020 at 9:03 am | Permalink

        +1 Lynn agree about Andy.

        If the Minister is responsible for the Quango and everything that goes wrong in that Quango then that Minister needs to get an early grip of what is going on and deal with underperformers in the team and make sure the reports s/he needs to check on key performance indicators are there to oversee.

        If I were a minister I would detail precisely what is expected from Boris the minute he promoted me, confirm it in writing.
        I would find out what stores and equipment the Quango has,
        Discover what workers/consultants they have in the quango, study the organisational chart, make sure I see (even if on zoom, every person – worker/contractor/Manager) to ask them what they do (key tasks) to make my department run well, ask them for details of their key tasks by return e-mail.
        I would make sure they know the focus of my department and what I was trying to achieve if they were unclear of their key tasks I would ask their supervisor/manager to arrange a face to face meeting.

        • Iain Gill
          Posted August 24, 2020 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

          I cannot think of a Quango or Government Dept that I wouldn’t have to start day one with a public announcement that it was not fit for purpose in the style of John Reid.

          • a-tracy
            Posted August 25, 2020 at 8:48 am | Permalink

            We have Headmasters calling the Education Minister out today and threatening to walk on Westminster.#

            Its just pathetic. Gavin Williamson and his department needs to call every single one of them (why hasn’t he already if this was blowing up?) and ask them each singularly what they are doing to make getting kids back to school succeed.

            “heads require more than just vague words to deliver effectively for every child”

            So since March the Heads of English schools have only received “vague words” REALLY!

            These Heads earn what £60k (inc Bonus) up to £125,000 inc bonus + mega Pension pots and they can’t sort anything out for themselves? REALLY!

            How do they think Supermarket Heads did it? The big Delivery Firms? Amazon? for gods sake get a grip Williamson.

      • Andy
        Posted August 24, 2020 at 10:40 am | Permalink

        60,000 people are dead because this government failed.

        Of course the role of PHE should be evaluated at the public inquiry.

        And lessons should be learned and incorporated into whatever comes next.

        But to replace it now – in the middle of a pandemic – is just plain foolish.

        But then we are dealing with a government of fools.

        We know what is happening here.

        Ministers are covering up for their own failures. It won’t work.

        As for David Frost- he was tasked with doing the easiest deal in history.

        He could have done it over a cup of tea in an afternoon, apparently.

        He is obviously completely ineffectual have failed in this simple task.

        As the lousy withdrawal agreement he negotiated shows, he is just not very good.

        • graham1946
          Posted August 24, 2020 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

          Rubbish as usual. The WA is just a re-hash of the awful May deal (which you keep telling us) and that was done by May and Olly Robbins. It was accepted to move things along or we’d be spending another four years and billions of pounds wasting time waffling.
          It should have been an easy deal as everything is already in place, had the EU negotiated in good faith but they want to carry on ruling us, taking our fish for nothing and making us pay for nothing.

        • a-tracy
          Posted August 24, 2020 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

          60,000 people are dead because of a pandemic Andy. I’m not a fan of Hancock but to blame our government for this infection is extreme!

          At first, the medical professionals told ministers they could only treat it with ventilators. Do you honestly think a Minister made this up at his kitchen table?

          The Heads of the NHS told the government they needed to get patients out of beds to treat the oncoming wave of illness they were expecting from reports on the continent when Brits started returning from their Winter holidays infected. How do you know who made the key decision to return elderly hospital patients to care homes, how do you know it wasn’t NHS chiefs who asked for this to be done and quickly to protect patients (who I suspect weren’t exhibiting any signs of covid19) from incoming waves of infected patients that would require beds.

        • Edward2
          Posted August 24, 2020 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

          Too many paragraphs Andy.
          As someone who runs a sizeable business you should know how to use paragraphs.

        • Lynn Atkinson
          Posted August 24, 2020 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

          We are NOT in the middle of a pandemic.
          Frost has to keep talking and trying to do a deal so that come the end of this (disgraceful WA) we KNOW that no deal was ever available. They don’t give a damn about German car or washing machine manufacturers, French winemakers, Italian pasta makers, in fact let’s face it, no Oligarchy ever gives a damn.
          All the EU ever wants is surrender!

        • NickC
          Posted August 25, 2020 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

          Andy said: “As for David Frost- he was tasked with doing the easiest deal in history.” This is a reference to the claim by Liam Fox that a trade deal “should be one of the easiest” deals in history (BBC R4 20 July 2017).

          “Should be” is not the same as “is” or “will be”. And Fox clearly knew this because he went on to say: “The only reason we wouldn’t come to a free and open agreement is because politics gets in the way of economics”. Therefore either through intent or negligence you are peddling fake news.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted August 26, 2020 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

          “60,000 people are dead because this government failed”

          Failed to make them immortal I assume you mean? They really are hopeless aren’t they!

    • agricola
      Posted August 24, 2020 at 6:18 am | Permalink

      Brexit has not failed, much as you would wish it to fail, because it has yet to happen. Judgement time will be five to ten years after 31st December 2020.

      Ministers have rarely been qualified for a specific ministry. This might cloud their wider responsibility for seeing the big picture. As you suggest some are myopic.

      The government is learning to govern after a long period of that responsibility being in the hands of your unelected, undemocratic, civil service friends in the EU.

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted August 24, 2020 at 6:36 am | Permalink

        Yes, it has happened.

        There will never be an end to the UK’s dealing with the European Union, however.

        Every time that the world changes, the European Union will respond – if not actually leading that change – and the UK will have to adjust, by negotiation, to that response or change.

        Get used to it.

        • Lynn Atkinson
          Posted August 24, 2020 at 8:36 am | Permalink

          Oh the EU is leading the race to the bottom. We all know that – low level warfare in many countries, levels of poverty not seen in the 1st world since the War, and they have lurched from inviting Turkey to join to threatening War!
          Phew, sooner 1st Jan 2021 arrives the better!

        • IanT
          Posted August 24, 2020 at 8:48 am | Permalink

          The world changes all the time Martin – usually with little or no involvement from Brussels. Much as you may dislike the idea, global events do not revolve around the European Union.

        • bigneil(newercomp)
          Posted August 24, 2020 at 10:08 am | Permalink

          The only EU negotiation is “We want more of your money”.

        • NickC
          Posted August 24, 2020 at 11:01 am | Permalink

          No, Martin, Brexit has not “happened”. The UK has abrogated the treaties – TEU and TFEU – but signed up to the WA treaty which puts the EU back in control of us, using the same TEU and TFEU rules. We finally escape your corrupt, hostile empire – God willing – on 31 Dec 2020.

          • Sea Warrior
            Posted August 24, 2020 at 11:57 am | Permalink

            ‘Corrupt, hostile empire…’? That’s how I feel about it too. I can’t see the government here being brave enough to start working to bring that empire down – but I do hope to see Nigel Farage spending more of his time in Italy and France, helping the Italexiteers and Frexiteers realise their worthy goals.

          • Lynn Atkinson
            Posted August 24, 2020 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

            Sea Warrior – the worst thing anybody can do is interfere in the internal affairs of another country. If you are a Brexiteer, Italexiteer or Frexiteer that is a given. Look how Obama helped win the Referendum for Brexit! (Now Obama is helping Trump retain the Presidency).
            Thank god for Barack and Michael – oops Michelle now isn’t it?

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted August 24, 2020 at 6:32 am | Permalink

      Yes, sacked, but replaced by whom?

      The party expelled its twenty-odd brightest lights.

      • Sea Warrior
        Posted August 24, 2020 at 8:21 am | Permalink

        Brussels’ oddest lights.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted August 24, 2020 at 8:25 am | Permalink

        Are you referring to the treachury of the Hillary Benn act?

        Why on earth were some of these traitors let back in and some even elevated to the Lords recently?

        • margaret howard
          Posted August 24, 2020 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

          Ll

          Because that’s what happens to failed ministers in this country. Kick them upstairs so that they may enjoy a comfortable retirement at our expense.

          No government will ever reduce their numbers or curtail their importance because ultimately all MPs will want to end up there with a nice title to boot.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted August 24, 2020 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

          treachery

      • IanT
        Posted August 24, 2020 at 8:54 am | Permalink

        Phillip Hammond and Justine Greening are it’s “brightest lights”?

        They are in more trouble than I thought….

      • Fred H
        Posted August 24, 2020 at 9:19 am | Permalink

        a few seconds of barely detected twinkle and they were gone. Tragic.

      • NickC
        Posted August 24, 2020 at 11:05 am | Permalink

        That’s just silly, Martin. You’ve lost the arguments, so now you’re whining like a child who can’t get his own way.

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted August 24, 2020 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

          I accept everything that is happening, I don’t deny it.

          Most of the bad things are down to covid19 itself, but exacerbated egregiously by the Government’s utterly inept approach to it.

          They will be made worse still by the failure to retrieve any sensible arrangement with the European Union to replace the WA now that we have left.

          YOU voted for this government and for brexit, not I.

          As you constantly gloat, the Opposition cannot do a thing.

          Correct, so they are utterly blameless for your utter shambles.

          • Edward2
            Posted August 24, 2020 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

            Yet still very popular versus Sir Kier (kneeling) Starmer.
            Ever thought four years from now you will lose dreadfully yet again.

          • NickC
            Posted August 25, 2020 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

            Martin, Wrong, as usual. I have voted for various parties (four in the last 20 years), and no party can count on my vote. And neither can you. And I do not “constantly gloat [that] the Opposition cannot do a thing”. In fact I cannot recall “gloating” even once.

    • Sea Warrior
      Posted August 24, 2020 at 6:40 am | Permalink

      Your post would have been more readable if you had left out your trademark anti-Brexit ranting.

    • Ian @Barkham
      Posted August 24, 2020 at 6:44 am | Permalink

      The only failure of Brexit is the pretense and the lack of recognition from the EU that we do not want to be ruled by them in our own country, that is arrogance on their part.

      Our big failure is not insisting that the drop their desire to rule the UK before any talks take place. The EU keeps insisting they must define our internal policies over and above those of our democratically elected parliament – something they would not even attempt on any other country in the world. Are the acting like (a tyranny ed) or something?

      • Ian @Barkham
        Posted August 24, 2020 at 8:38 am | Permalink

        Sir John – I was pushing it there, but their negotiating attitude is to create a colony in servitude.

    • Richard1
      Posted August 24, 2020 at 7:58 am | Permalink

      Further evidence of the uselessness of lockdown, the policy you and other leftists were shrieking for so loudly. Peru has had the worlds strictest lockdown and has just overtaken Belgium as the worlds highest Wuhan plague death rate.

    • Peter
      Posted August 24, 2020 at 8:59 am | Permalink

      The main purpose of quangos seems to be as a device for political patronage.

      So we have even more favoured individuals on big salaries and completely out of touch.

      As with health authorities and local authorities chiefs, there seems to be a merry go round where failure in one post leads to a big pay off and then an immediate appointment in a similar role elsewhere in the country. Nice work if you can get it.

      In the case of financial regulators their performance is always abysmal. So another purpose here is to provide the pretence of investigation into crimes in big business and The City.

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted August 24, 2020 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

        Let me remind posters here that the “Q” in “quango” stands for “quasi”, that is, “as if”.

        In other words, they are meant to assume responsibility AS IF they were autonomous, but without actually being so. Government retains control for as and when it desires.

        That means that final responsibility for what they actually do rests with the GOVERNMENT.

        How its thralls contort, to pretend that this is not so, and how easy it is to see why.

        • Edward2
          Posted August 24, 2020 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

          So you feel the head if a Quango who us probably being paid several hundred grand a year is some who should never be criticised nor fired?
          No matter how useless their performance I’d.
          Always the minister is responsible.
          Did you say that in the Bair Bruwn era?

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted August 25, 2020 at 10:13 am | Permalink

            No, as you know I did not say that.

            These are extreme, unprecedented circumstances, exactly those where the “quasi autonomous” part should become operative, i.e. government would take the lead.

            Instead, they hid quivering behind the quangoes’ skirts.

          • Edward2
            Posted August 25, 2020 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

            These quangos get loads of funds and decide on who they hire and make decisions on their own.
            If they waste money dreadfully or fail in their projects then the top people should be made responsible.
            That is what happens in the private sector.
            And I have yet to hear you criticise any decision made by a quango.
            Your default response is always to have a go at Ministers or the PM

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted August 25, 2020 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

            They are simply there to be hung out to dry if they have any force majeure difficulty, rather than the Government being slung out.

          • Edward2
            Posted August 25, 2020 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

            Hung out to dry…interesting description of Quango bosses earning hundreds of thousands who make a complete mess of their brief.
            If they were “idle Tories” you would be calling for their heads.

    • MickN
      Posted August 24, 2020 at 9:39 am | Permalink

      Yes I don’t understand why the government don’t step aside and let the wealth of talent on the opposition benches run the country instead.
      Jesus ! Do you actually listen to yourself sometimes?

    • NickC
      Posted August 24, 2020 at 11:09 am | Permalink

      Andy, Have you worked out yet any actual reasons why the UK – alone among the rest of the world’s 165 countries – cannot be independent of the EU?

      • margaret howard
        Posted August 24, 2020 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

        NickC

        And have you ever worked out why we begged to join them in the first place? Because we had become the ‘sick man of Europe’ and our own attempts to form a successful trading bloc with other nations failed dismally.

        Remember EFTA? We were a founder member along with Norway, Austria, Denmark, Portugal, Sweden and Switzerland. All but two of them soon decamped to the EU.

        I wonder why?

        • Edward2
          Posted August 24, 2020 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

          You keep repeating this cut and pasted twaddle almost every week Margaret.
          It still doesn’t make it correct.

        • NickC
          Posted August 25, 2020 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

          Margaret H, The UK was regarded as the sick man of Europe primarily in the 1970s – after we were hustled into the EEC. It was a jibe I never heard in the 1960s, but frequently in the 1970s. Indeed, 1960s England was widely admired.

          We” did not “beg to join” the EEC – only the usual europhile culprits, led by Ted Heath, did. Joining had only a bare mention in Heath’s manifesto, and we were tricked into it being a mere trade deal (“the common market”).

          Once in, people, including myself, voted to continue the experiment in 1975, primarily because at that time we were the sick man of Europe (strikes, power cuts, shortages, etc). As usual the majority of the MSM peddled the lie that the EU was good for us, and it was only with difficulty that I discovered the truth.

    • Stephen Priest
      Posted August 24, 2020 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

      Lead by the science

      Yesterday

      Total recorded deaths in Europe: 189 of which 96 were in Russia, Ukraine and Romania.

      Europe’s Population: 741.4 million.

      Even Neil Ferguson must know there is no Second Wave. Not even a second ripple.

      • glen cullen
        Posted August 24, 2020 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

        no second wave no need for lockdown

  2. Mark B
    Posted August 24, 2020 at 5:24 am | Permalink

    Good morning

    Let us be clear as to what QUANGOS are ? They are bodies created by government to carry out government work. They provide, or at least did provide, a firewall between themselves and Ministers so that when things go wrong the QUANGO gets the blame and the Minister does not have to resign or get sacked. They also serve as a, jobs for the boys and girls 😉 This is why when a new government or PM comes to office a new QUANGO is created as a reward for their supporters.

    We ran a Empire with less Civil Serpents than we have today and zero QUANGOS. Sadly I feel that nothing, as always can or will be done. We really do need a new broom, the LibLabCON isn’t working.

    • JoolsB
      Posted August 24, 2020 at 6:50 am | Permalink

      +1

    • Enrico
      Posted August 24, 2020 at 7:59 am | Permalink

      I applaud your comments sir.Quangos out.

    • glen cullen
      Posted August 24, 2020 at 9:35 am | Permalink

      +1 wise words indeed

  3. DOMINIC
    Posted August 24, 2020 at 5:39 am | Permalink

    It is worrying that you accept that Blair’s Quango system should continue to exist but then hardly surprising considering the recent history of the morally bankrupt Tory party since 1990

    We need radical surgery not tinkering or reform as you call it. That involves conflict and negative press headlines. I doubt the person that leads your party has it in him to understand what is desperately needed.

    I suspect we have passed the point of no return and the fascist left that have infected many aspects of government now have the bit firmly between their teeth and they are implementing their power without any degree of accountability.

    Your party’s embrace of radical cultural, demographic and social experimentation won’t end well

    • JoolsB
      Posted August 24, 2020 at 6:51 am | Permalink

      +1

    • Fred H
      Posted August 24, 2020 at 7:16 am | Permalink

      ‘social experimentation won’t end well’.

      BUT END IT WILL!

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted August 24, 2020 at 8:43 am | Permalink

        What, with yet another experiment, in imposing a rigid, changeless, dogmatic, narrow system?

        • Fred H
          Posted August 24, 2020 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

          did I write that?

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted August 24, 2020 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

            No, I was asking you if it were the corollary of your post, Fred.

          • Fred H
            Posted August 24, 2020 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

            you wrote it – you explain with an example.

        • Lynn Atkinson
          Posted August 24, 2020 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

          No we have already tried being a satellite of the EU, we want to stop the experiment and revert to the tried and tested 800 year old sackable democracy where the Sovereigns are The People. But you socialists HATE that thought don’t you, because all you want is POWER!

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted August 24, 2020 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

            The people have never been sovereign in the UK.

            Prior to revolution, the monarch was. Now it is Parliament. But still not the people.

            Your 800 year claim is nonsense.

            Universal suffrage only came in c20th.

          • Edward2
            Posted August 25, 2020 at 7:22 am | Permalink

            Who votes in the Parliament?

          • NickC
            Posted August 25, 2020 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

            Nonsense, Martin. In a democracy (such as ours now) the people are sovereign. The voters get to decide on who is to be in government, and whether the previous government should be sacked. That’s what democracy means – demos=people; kratos=power.

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted August 25, 2020 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

            Nick, if that were true then a legally recognised entity of “the people” would be able to take any other entity – such as Parliament – to court and to defeat them.

            Parliament cannot be challenged in court in the UK.

          • Edward2
            Posted August 25, 2020 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

            That’s because we have the ability to remove them at the next election.
            Did you not study British Constitution?

    • A. Sedgwick
      Posted August 24, 2020 at 9:31 am | Permalink

      Precisely, why do we have quangos at all – what are government departments for?

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted August 24, 2020 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

        To be blamed in circumstances such as the present.

        • Fred H
          Posted August 24, 2020 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

          then what exactly ARE they responsible for?

  4. Oldwulf
    Posted August 24, 2020 at 5:57 am | Permalink

    It’s time for a new reality TV show.
    “Hang the quango”.
    The CEO of each quango is given half an hour to defend his/her quango and to defend its budget. There is then half an hour if questioning by Andrew Neil.
    The public then votes to decide whether the quango is hanged or whether it is permitted to continue.

    • Ian @Barkham
      Posted August 24, 2020 at 6:37 am | Permalink

      You have to ask as taxpayers we pay for them to exist yet seemingly have no recourse in ensuring value for money. We cant stop using them, take our money elsewhere. Its bizare

    • bigneil(newercomp)
      Posted August 24, 2020 at 10:22 am | Permalink

      There is already a tv program called Rich house, poor house. There should be another where MPs spend time living in the lives of those they tax ( us ), and then with those they spend our tax on ( new arrivals) and then publicly justify why the migrant gets put up in a hotel at our cost for having contributed zilch – and all we get is cuts to services and increased taxes.

  5. agricola
    Posted August 24, 2020 at 6:01 am | Permalink

    No doubt their reasons for creation are varied, some good others not so. In principal they are an admission that the ministry in question is incapable for various reasons of dealing with aspects of it’s remit. If there are voids of capability then I would not object to an advisory groups creation for the limited period it required to solve the problem. However these quangos once started have a life of their own and seek permanence.

    The very worst example is the BBC created with it’s own charter to inform, educate, and impart national and international news with forensic impartiality. During WW2 it was used as an instrument of government which I accept. Since the sixties it has been taken over by the liberal/socialist left as a mouthpiece for their vision of the World alone. This government do little about it either because they agree and are part of its thinking or because they lack the courage to put it back in its box. To allow it tax raising powers is the ultimate insult. The over 75 license fee fiasco is the ultimate example, of a quango getting so big it acts politically and financially outside government control. How long before other quangos follow this example.

    Membership of the EU is partly to blame for the proliferation of quangos when ministers lost the power of decision to EU civil servants who dictated policy outside democracy. Our civil service liked this principal. Now post Brexit, ministers and their ministries will have to stand in the light and take responsibility for any decisions they take, and assuage any responsibility shifting devices such as quangos they may have. The electorate will nail them if they do not.

    • agricola
      Posted August 24, 2020 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

      By avoiding the moderation of this contribution you are missing a powerful argument for dealing with our largest quango. Perhaps you disagree, perhaps you like this quango. Who knows when you deny it the light of day. What do you think your inaction does for your desire that we all vote Conservative. Not a lot is my conclusion.

  6. Lynn Atkinson
    Posted August 24, 2020 at 6:03 am | Permalink

    Bravo!

    • James Bertram
      Posted August 24, 2020 at 8:11 am | Permalink

      +1

  7. Bob Dixon
    Posted August 24, 2020 at 6:03 am | Permalink

    We will be out of the EU 1st January 2021.The Government,The Civil Service and The Quangos will have to make decisions in stead of implementing orders from Brussels.
    How quickly will they rise to the challenge?

    • Ian @Barkham
      Posted August 24, 2020 at 6:34 am | Permalink

      If only this government was acting as if that was the intention, we could start building a better future

    • Sea Warrior
      Posted August 24, 2020 at 6:42 am | Permalink

      We have already LEFT the EU. Now its a matter of leaving the WA-imposed Transition.

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted August 24, 2020 at 8:44 am | Permalink

        Yes – but your elected Tories voted for the WA, after it was agreed by a Tory government.

        So it was imposed by them.

        • glen cullen
          Posted August 24, 2020 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

          The people didn’t vote for EU deal or WA

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted August 25, 2020 at 6:11 am | Permalink

            They didn’t vote against it either.

            The issue was never put to them.

          • NickC
            Posted August 25, 2020 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

            Martin, Yes it was, and yes we did. In the 2016 Referendum 52% voted to Leave the EU, precisely removing any continuation of EU control over us. Yet the WA treaty continues EU control over us. It is a wicked capitulation obtained by traitors and under duress. And, yes, a traitor is someone who sells out her own country to a foreign power.

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted August 25, 2020 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

            Repeating your silly recital doesn’t change the fact that it is utter nonsense.

            There has been no vote on what the post-exit relationship with the European Union should be.

            The UK has left, and the referendum burden is fully discharged.

            EVERYTHING from now on is a matter for party politics and for manifestoes.

      • NickC
        Posted August 24, 2020 at 11:21 am | Permalink

        Sea Warrior, The UK is still subject to almost all the rules that run the EU. So, no, we have not “left”, because we’re still controlled by the EU. Which was, after all, the main contention of the Leave campaign (“take back control”).

    • Andy
      Posted August 24, 2020 at 10:41 am | Permalink

      What decisions would you like them to make that they couldn’t make before?

      • NickC
        Posted August 24, 2020 at 11:27 am | Permalink

        Andy, Remove large chunks of EU rules. You have been given lists many times before, but here is a reminder of a few: CFP, CAP, GDPR, EAW, etc, etc.

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted August 24, 2020 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

          Answer the question.

          • NickC
            Posted August 25, 2020 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

            I just did, Martin. Can’t you read the thread? The “they” was listed by Bob Dixon as “The Government, The Civil Service and The Quangos will have to make decisions …”.

            Andy asked: “What decisions would you like them to make that they couldn’t make before?”

            And I answered: “Remove large chunks of EU rules …. here is a reminder of a few: CFP, CAP, GDPR, EAW, etc, etc.”

            Do keep up.

          • Edward2
            Posted August 25, 2020 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

            Is that list not enough?

      • Lynn Atkinson
        Posted August 24, 2020 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

        We want to be able, should the fancy take us, to SACK OUR LAWMAKERS. The fact that we can keeps them in check as does the fact that British lawmakers must obey the laws they make, unlike the practise on the Continent where they make laws for others and exempt themselves.

  8. Narrow Shoulders
    Posted August 24, 2020 at 6:04 am | Permalink

    Sir John, were you involved with Peter Lilley in the review of quangos during the early years of the coalition?

    Why did so many survive? What purpose were they (officially) deemed to serve?

    Why do the employees on these quangos attract such high remuneration. When so few are going in to the office, outsourcing to Mumbai or deleting posts seems like a good idea.

    This is also a very good time to review national wages. Why should a quango employee (or civil servant) in the North get paid the same as one in the overpriced South East?

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted August 24, 2020 at 8:46 am | Permalink

      Why did they survive?

      Do you think, for one moment, that a bunch of idle rich Tories would want to have to do all that work themselves?

      • NickC
        Posted August 24, 2020 at 11:30 am | Permalink

        Martin, That “work” would never have been done by idle rich Tories any more than it’s done by the idle rich Wokes. By definition.

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted August 24, 2020 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

          Name a couple of “idle rich” Labour people, who have been in government recently? Or who could be soon?

          • Fred H
            Posted August 24, 2020 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

            Labour? – in Government? Recently?
            Could you elaborate?
            Who could be soon – writing Dear Boris off early are you?

          • a-tracy
            Posted August 25, 2020 at 10:00 am | Permalink

            Hilary Benn it appears

          • NickC
            Posted August 25, 2020 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

            Martin, Whut?? Why should I name “a couple of “idle rich” Labour people”? What’s it got to do with my point that by definition the idle rich – whatever their political affiliations – don’t work?

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted August 25, 2020 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

            He seems rather industrious, not idle at all, a-t.

  9. Nigl
    Posted August 24, 2020 at 6:31 am | Permalink

    Dan Hannah made similar points in the DT recently. What a shame incumbents in the government see him as too much of a threat, preventing him getting into parliament. He is sorely needed.

    ‘All of this is a lot of work’ inferring it is not happening. What else have Ministers got to do? I suspect the reality is few if any have the management skills necessary indeed the current mess indicates they haven’t and once again how ever much you fiddle with the structure, nothing will change until the leadership does.

    Review meetings once a year, better than nothing I suppose but too infrequent to ensure projects don’t get away from you. Billions wasted on HS2 through zero oversight. I have been through a civil service audit, they were easy to fool and only interested in ticking boxes.

    With AI at its most sophisticated to date it cannot be beyond government to set up individual project management reporting, to red flag both operational and financial issues in a far more timely manner than even yearly.

    Yes review the Quangos but until we get a robust performance management culture in place with accountability nothing will change as indeed despite your fine words it will. It shouldn’t have needed some disastrous happenings to trigger what we already knew.

    It is said Gavin Williamson is retained because he us a shrewd political operator, so letting down parents and more importantly children is ok then? Sums it up.

  10. Ian @Barkham
    Posted August 24, 2020 at 6:33 am | Permalink

    Good morning Sir John

    Departments getting paid by the taxpayer, should at the least be overseen by a representative of the taxpayer – our MP’s. They should also be independently audited to keep on defining value for money for the taxpayer.

    As Mark B has said the UK ran an Empire with significantly less administrative overload than we have now.

    However, we have mistakenly finished up with a government we never voted for. The greater majority of the people of this country voted for a Conservative government in hope of releasing us from the overbearing bureaucracy and stupidity that comes from the left. Instead we got one of the most Socialist Governments we have ever seen. Big Government, central control and mind manipulation. The Government we have is fully WOKE, runs to the agendas of a noisy minority, entertains stupid dumb campaigns for the nuttiest side of the society. We have a Government unable to think, direct and contradictory wants to control to maintain its power. They are not Governing they are controlling.

    The people of the UK deserve better and we deserve real transparency and honesty, something I feel we wont get from this arts & crafts crowd. Clear logical thinking is required, release the people and we can clear up this mess. A clean break from the high and mighty rulers of the EU and the people will clear up the mess. All the fudges on top of other fudges mean the mess we are in lies with those that desire to rule not govern.

  11. Adam
    Posted August 24, 2020 at 6:34 am | Permalink

    Too many wet ones smoulder, stifling intended bonfires. Reviews and audits signal solutions, but those pour on delay.

    Each minister should decide what is needed, or is equally unsuited for purpose. Reform of Quangos rarely lacks good intent. Action on follow-through tends to be the failure.

  12. Caterpillar
    Posted August 24, 2020 at 6:36 am | Permalink

    I agree that Depts need to review the existence, role and means of operation of quangos. Nonethless, at this moment this is a distraction/cover, it should not be done before the PM has cleared out some of the existing Govt members particularly Sunak and Hancock. Every minute these two remain in post is a minute too long and endangers the viability of the country, keeping Sunak and his unethical policies until an Autumn budget/statement, assuming he doesn’t kick it into the long grass using Hancock’s CV19 response as an excuse, can only continue to be very bad for the country.

    • a-tracy
      Posted August 24, 2020 at 9:18 am | Permalink

      Caterpillar, I wonder if Matt Hancock even knows how many people are paid to work for his department. I wonder if over the past three months he has spoken to anyone under the Head of Department. People lower down the command chain usually know where the bottlenecks are, the things they’re waiting to get signed off, how things work and should be able to give you a comprehensive reason for their existence, a 20 minute focused conversation with each person can provide so much information if you ask the right questions. He is hopeless on the media, he looks so meek and unsure.

      • Caterpillar
        Posted August 24, 2020 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

        I agree. It is probably a good general question how much MBWA do ministers to provide added insight?

  13. Lifelogic
    Posted August 24, 2020 at 6:40 am | Permalink

    Exactly right, most clearly need to be abolished rapidly with minimum pay offs plus we need state sector pension reform it is not affordable or fair to the private sector. Ministers are the only people who have any hope (or incentive) of trying to make the state sector actually produce something of value for the vast quantity of tax we pay. Many (unlike JR) clearly do not even try to deliver value or policies what work. Other try but are not up to the job.

    We need a much, much smaller state sector. Most of it does far more harm than good. But are Boris and Sunak up to it? Do they too have a broken compass like Heath, Major, Blair, Brown, Cameron and May. Perhaps they even have the same official compass issued to them and designed by civil servants?

    • JoolsB
      Posted August 24, 2020 at 8:00 am | Permalink

      Totally agree Lifelogic but unfortunately this Government haven’t got the guts to reform anything, or I doubt the inclination, especially if it means standing up to unions. A culling of the public sector is much overdue along with reform of their pensions but that should also include politicians and as we all know that self serving bunch are not going to do anything that might detach them from the teat of the Westminster gravy train. What happened to parliament being reduced to 600 John? And why are devolved nations still over represented in the Uk Parliament and their MPs paid full time pay, pension and perks for doing a part time job?

    • a-tracy
      Posted August 24, 2020 at 9:20 am | Permalink

      I don’t agree that they need abolishing. I think they need to be held to account properly. The rot is at the top and if they allow people to do very little to achieve goals below them then quango or department hired they’ll still fail as they have failed up to now.

      Did we ever discover where the missing PPE stocks supposed to be held by PHE went? Has anyone been charged with theft? Did the person in charge of purchase, stocks, storage get dismissed for not keeping proper records?

      • Lifelogic
        Posted August 24, 2020 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

        Another thing that did not need “hindsight” was that pandemic planning should have put in place tooling and plans so as to be able produce PPE and medical equipment locally if needed.

        Let us hope that the people who organise our defence systems are not as incompetent over our military supplies if needed.

        • a-tracy
          Posted August 25, 2020 at 10:21 am | Permalink

          Well, P*ss Poor PP is for Jeremy Hunt to explain, isn’t it?

          But once people move on in government, quango, policing, all over the public sector – they also don’t appear to be held to account and he wanted to be Prime Minister.

          The Media in the UK are poor also, they start off enquiries but hardly ever close them down – they told the story of the missing stock, why aren’t they asking what happened next. Who was charged? Who is arrested? Which quango head was responsible for PPE, what is their excuse for missing stock and a stock level much too low, inadequate supply chain cleared providers?

  14. Lifelogic
    Posted August 24, 2020 at 6:44 am | Permalink

    Perhaps the most damaging, hugely expensive (if followed), unscientific and totally idiot one currently is the “Independent” Committee on Climate Change . It should be abolished with the Climate Change Act and all the zero net carbon lunacy.

    • Nigl
      Posted August 24, 2020 at 8:25 am | Permalink

      Talking of lunacy your obsession with climate change springs to mind with the fake assertions. This is a plethora of research out there linking the global warming that is fact to human created greenhouse gas emissions.

      • Sea Warrior
        Posted August 24, 2020 at 11:36 am | Permalink

        There has always been climate change on this planet. There’s an article about the Sahara Desert over on MailOnline that you might find interesting. 4000 years before the birth of the motor-car it was a different place.

      • NickC
        Posted August 24, 2020 at 11:47 am | Permalink

        Nig1, No, they’re not. The claim that man is responsible for recent (though not previous) global warming is a classic case of circular reasoning. We have no idea what natural energy imbalances exist in the climate system; so we cannot say what man is responsible for. As it is the modest warming that has occurred (probably naturally) has been entirely beneficial.

        • Nigl
          Posted August 24, 2020 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

          Maybe you would refer me to your peer group reviewed research papers on the subject and that goes for all the other ‘expert’ deniers. I can then compare them to the many institutions that disagree with you.

          • NickC
            Posted August 25, 2020 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

            Nig1, There is no causal proof that man burning natural fuels will result in catastrophic anthropogenic global warming (CAGW). I would be most interested in a peer reviewed scientific paper that does make such a causal connection.

            The other problem, if you did manage that, is to determine how much of the recent (150 years) global warming (c1°K) was due to man’s actions, rather than (at least some) natural changes.

            It’s no good looking to the GCMs because they are run deliberately to eliminate natural variations – an assumption that cannot be justified – and hence my comment about circular reasoning.

    • Lynn Atkinson
      Posted August 24, 2020 at 8:39 am | Permalink

      +1

    • Bryan Harris
      Posted August 24, 2020 at 10:04 am | Permalink

      +++

      Abolish the ‘Climate Change’ movement before it melds too closely with the lockdown movement — They both have the same final aims

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted August 24, 2020 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

        You can’t abolish a spontaneous, popular movement, only something which was created by operation of law.

        • Bryan Harris
          Posted August 25, 2020 at 6:44 am | Permalink

          You can hardly call something that is rammed down our throats a popular movement………… It’s the biggest con since white bread..

          Why do socialists always fall for every form of indoctrination, and think we should follow their irrational lead

          • Edward2
            Posted August 25, 2020 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

            They think it will progress them to their fantasy of a Marxist society.

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted August 25, 2020 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

          It’s more popular than is leaving the European Union, old bean.

          • Bryan Harris
            Posted August 26, 2020 at 6:27 am | Permalink

            Popular is hardly the word… Climate change is yet another indoctrination – brainwashing, that so many weak minds have fallen for

        • NickC
          Posted August 25, 2020 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

          Which is why, Martin, such “movements” purport to be “popular” when they are often kept going and financed by a few elitists with a political agenda. And also why most people who have such beliefs don’t seem to have the faintest grasp of either science or technology, and therefore relate to “climate change” as if it were a religion.

          • Bryan Harris
            Posted August 26, 2020 at 6:27 am | Permalink

            ++

    • Lifelogic
      Posted August 24, 2020 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

      CO2 does indeed have some effect as do millions of other factors. But the effect of CO2 has been hugely exaggerated. Trump deserves to win just for being sound on Climate Alarmist (most sensible physicist certainly in private are too) unless seeking reseach grants.

      Not only that but the renewables and the likes the alarmist puch make virtually no difference to World C02 concentrations anyway!

      • NickC
        Posted August 25, 2020 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

        Lifelogic, What I find fascinating is that the main IR absorption band for CO2 is around the 15 micron mark – and that is exactly where there is a window in the IR absorption band of water vapour.

        Of course water vapour is by far the most important and wide spectrum “greenhouse” gas – and the climate catastrophe loonies cannot do a thing about it! So they ignore it.

        The average global temperature is c288°K of which c255°K is direct warming from the Sun. All “greenhouse” gases, including water vapour, only contribute about 33°K.

        • hefner
          Posted August 26, 2020 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

          Unfortunately you are not quite right NickC, any meteorological or climate model includes all known bands of H2O, CO2, O3, CH4, N2O, a bunch (usually six to ten CFCs, HFCs, and a few other exotic gases) accounting for overlap between them. Your comment ‘the climate catastrophe loonies … ignore it’ is simply wrong. And strictly speaking the so-called H2O window region is roughly between 8 and 12 microns. And even in that part of the infrared spectrum where there are no effect of line absorption there is the so-called continuum effect due to the absorption by the superimposition of all the wings of the H2O lines (far from their centres) coming from the strong H2O band around 6.3 microns and what is beyond 20 microns. Look at the electromagnetic spectrum of water on wikipedia.

          255K is not the result of the direct warming by the Sun, it is the equilibrium temperature that the planet would get in absence of greenhouse gases, not exactly the same thing as it would be the equilibrium temperature obtained by balancing the solar radiation (an input that would contribute to heat the surfaces) and the infrared radiation that would be emitted by the land and ocean surfaces (an output) given the resulting distribution of surface temperatures assuming no greenhouse gases.

          And now taking your point ‘all greenhouse gases only contribute 33K’, would you not think it could be easier to perturb this smaller quantity than perturbing the one at 255 or 288K? What is your engineering mind concluding?

          And another thing: what if I were to tell you that the centre of the 15micron band is practically saturated (a square-root regime of absorption as it might have been described in your readings) and does not contribute that much to heating, but that especially the low wavenumber side 13-14 micron (intermediate regime) and more importantly two small bands of CO2 (at 9.4 and 10.4 microns, in a linear regime and in a part of the infrared spectrum where H2O absorption is minimum) contribute more. .

          Isn’t that captivating?

          • Edward2
            Posted August 26, 2020 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

            No especially if you just cut n paste it off a website to make yourself look clever.

        • hefner
          Posted August 27, 2020 at 9:38 am | Permalink

          Edward2, I am sure you will be able to find the website from which I have done this ‘cut and paste’. Or maybe not?

          Maybe you could at least accept I might know where to look for proper scientific information, might know how to read it and draw from it the ‘substantifique moelle’. Or maybe not?

  15. Ian Wragg
    Posted August 24, 2020 at 6:50 am | Permalink

    Quango. Jobs for the boys.
    Mainly headed by failures who skip from one body too another.
    Failures rewarded by promotion.
    Waste of taxes to reward the great and good.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted August 24, 2020 at 8:29 am | Permalink

      Indeed as are all those government adverts & propaganda we all pay for endlessly on LBC for example from the Mayor of London or Central Government. Paying taxes so they can spend it on propaganda and moronic worthless adverts.

    • Nigl
      Posted August 24, 2020 at 8:39 am | Permalink

      I agree about the job skipping but then you see it in other walks of life, to suggest it is just the public sector is too narrow.

      I wonder whether the gene pool is large enough, ie choice is limited. I seem to recall a number of extremely good private sector people throwing in the towel because of the mind numbing bureaucracy and umpteen others wouldn’t go anywhere near it.

      If you can’t cope with the bureaucracy and understand the politics you are doomed from the outset hence I suspect who gets chosen. That in turn impacts adversely on performance and the vicious circle continues.

    • Fred H
      Posted August 24, 2020 at 9:17 am | Permalink

      -the G&T brigade at their ‘club’. Recommending each other for the latest sinecure available.

    • jerry
      Posted August 24, 2020 at 10:01 am | Permalink

      @Ian Wragg, No, not ‘Jobs for the boys’ but jobs for Fall Guys, people paid very well to put their own personal/business reputations on the line to protect the elected politico when the latter makes a sows ear out of what was previously a silk purse!

      Time for all quangos and Agencies to be scrapped, the work should be done within the govt Dept (I don’t mean within Whitehall, the DVLA would not move for example), with a named Minister (drawn from MPs, not the Lords) responsible for oversight, answerable for their management on the Floor of the House.

    • Bryan Harris
      Posted August 24, 2020 at 10:01 am | Permalink

      ++

  16. Jiminyjim
    Posted August 24, 2020 at 6:56 am | Permalink

    The one that crucially needs looking at is Student Finance England. It is a registered limited company but is in control of an eye-watering amount of public money, which will represent 10% of our total national debt in 20 years. A look at the filed accounts for this company over the last five years and the monstrous level of complaints from its users show that it is completely out of control. Please, Sir John, this is a very serious issue and appeals to successive ministers have fallen on deaf ears.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted August 24, 2020 at 8:32 am | Permalink

      +1. An even more serious issue is why people are being given all these “loans” (mainly grants in reality) at all for largely worthless degrees (surely 75%+ of them). It helps no one but people employed at the often duff universites.

      • Sea Warrior
        Posted August 24, 2020 at 11:33 am | Permalink

        A great many academics are foreigners – from the EU and elsewhere. Mrs Patel now needs to look at restricting their recruitment. Her new immigration scheme, on its own, won’t be enough to avert widespread unemployment amongst British academics.

    • a-tracy
      Posted August 24, 2020 at 9:32 am | Permalink

      Plan 1 schemes were set up to be repaid. They were on low tuition fees (£1000 per year) when they started with low interest. They have been in place over 22 years and it is quite easy to work out how many have paid back in full. Finding out how many have paid back in full is difficult though, why is it? They used taxpayers funds to fund it, why don’t we have a report.

      My question to Student Finance England, how many people took out tuition fee loans in 1998? How many have repaid in full by now? Those not paying back yet – which courses did they take? Those with 100% payback which courses did they take? Are there institutions that have a poor rate of payback – if so lets here about it.

  17. turboterrier
    Posted August 24, 2020 at 6:59 am | Permalink

    Sir John

    O/T but relevant. Reducing the Quango departments dramatically will have an impact on the taxpayers in that it will save money and allow more pressing demands on our contributions to be met.

    I do not expect you to publish this entry but would ask you to consider the following.

    How many fines are issued across the whole judicial system for both minor and large offences? My suggestion to you is to ask the Chancellor to apply VAT to all fines no exceptions. This could be justified in countering any outcry that the tapayers pay a lot of money for the issueing and collecting of such fines.

    Westminster had no concerns or scruples when it came to slapping an envy tax on all vehices over £40.000 and in a stroke have seriously wounded companies like JLR which could be facing another takeover from yet another foreign company

    The levy of VAT on all fines would only be payable by the people who break the laws of ths country. If like the majority of the population you are law-abiding you have nothing to fear. But it also brings into play a much more powerful law abiding aspects that has to be considered. The VAT man. Any company no matter what size dreads the VAT inspection even though you think everything is correct. The powers of the VAT man are akin to the old Custom and Excise that of access to properties and accounts.

    Those who make a habit of non-payment of fines will have to incur the extra investigations that will result for non payment. The VAT man takes priority over all debtors.

    Ironically it might involve another Quango , but this one would be fully self- financing

  18. Bryan Harris
    Posted August 24, 2020 at 6:59 am | Permalink

    To quote TPA “For too long taxpayers propped up this nannying quango which was more interested in dictating diets than preparing for a pandemic. As we’ve seen in recent months PHE was completely out of its depth at responding to covid. Its woeful performance has signified the problems with our vast quango-state in which money is spent frivolously with little accountability.”

    PHE is but the tip of the iceberg when it comes to quangos run for the benefit of its exec’s.

    Now with the country in so much debt would be a great time to get rid of ineffectual quangos which are a huge drain on taxpayers money.

    • bigneil(newercomp)
      Posted August 24, 2020 at 10:28 am | Permalink

      “Now with the country in so much debt” – – it would be nice to know who thinks it is a good idea to keep importing foreigners for free lives – while WE are going to get their bills through our taxes.

    • forthurst
      Posted August 24, 2020 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

      A characteristic of quangos is that they are normally headed by Arts graduates put in place by other Arts graduates who are also Ministers of the Crown. One of the characteristics of the majority of Arts graduates is that they are bears of little brain, having shied away from the hard stuff at school and on through life. Science is challenging; unfortunately, people who don’t understand it have failed to understand the scientific method which can be applied outside a specifically scientific milieu; they can also easily fall into the trap of swallowing very damaging pseudo-science simply because propagandists have made it fashionable.

      The failure of the Arts graduates running the country and their inability to understand the importance for our prosperity of success in science and engineering has led to vast swathes of our industrial base being destroyed or absorbed by foreign predators. It has also led to vast numbers of people going to university and doing Arts degrees which are completely useless to themselves and the country.

  19. Richard1
    Posted August 24, 2020 at 7:07 am | Permalink

    Dead right, many of these quangos are useless and dysfunctional – and very expensive. I suggest they have sunset clauses attached to their existence, whereby they must justify their renewal or automatically be abolished eg every two years.

    Another issue which needs to be addressed is why are they stuffed full of leftists, and why is a Conservative govt continuing to allow a predominance of leftists to achieve unelected power through quangos? One answer of course is that paid employment as a statist busy-body doesn’t appeal to conservatives. I suggest unpaid non-exec boards, for all ministries and for quangos. On these, public spirited individuals who are prepared to devote some time and expertise at no cost to the public could balance the influence of the leftwing activists.

    • agricola
      Posted August 24, 2020 at 8:49 am | Permalink

      Not another layer please, just get rid of quangos and put the onus of governing on ministers and their civil service with short term contract expertise where there is a lack of it in the ministry.

  20. Nigl
    Posted August 24, 2020 at 7:11 am | Permalink

    Having worked in both the public and large corporate sectors lack of performance management in the former, is endemic, indeed even now my partner works in admin in a large hospital trust in southern England and a large part of her work is solely resolving mistakes made by another staff member that the so called management will not sort out preferring the easy life because it’s not their money they are wasting.

    Saying that, the knee jerk response is often either an accusation of racism or bullying, so with snowflake senior management I would do nothing as well.

  21. Sakara Gold
    Posted August 24, 2020 at 7:17 am | Permalink

    Too many quangos are populated by people with no suitable experience whatsoever – for e.g. Hancock has had to defend the decision to promote Baroness Dido Harding, despite a demonstrable lack of success as the executive chair of NHS Test and Trace and her having no medical qualifications at all.

    This is clearly a political appointment and demonstrates the real problem with the quango system – it operates on the “jobs for the old boys/girls principle” regardless of either aptitude, qualifications or experience.

    If we are not carefull the tabloids will soon be full of stories about Tory sleaze, after the recent spate of embarrasing “U” turns

    • Lifelogic
      Posted August 24, 2020 at 8:05 am | Permalink

      Too many ministers have degrees in PPE, Law, Politics and the likes. A very low percentage of them have much or any grasp of business, engineering, management, energy systems, maths, physics or (real) economics. Doubtless why so many are/were taken in by climate alarmism, the ERM, the EURO, the EU. They endlessly produce higher and higher taxes and more and more state sector delivering less and less or any value. Killing most private provision in schools, universities and health care with free at the point of use lunacy. Also rendering the private sector less and less competitive.

      I would cull most university loans for all be kids with 3 Bs (perhaps this year 3 As) and in duff subjects but failing this universities should have to pick up the bills for their students who fair to repay the loans. This giving them an incentive not to take on people who are unlikely to.

    • Know-Dice
      Posted August 24, 2020 at 8:13 am | Permalink

      She didn’t really shine at Talk Talk either…

    • a-tracy
      Posted August 24, 2020 at 10:22 am | Permalink

      All Hancock has to do is tell us what are the key functions of the role, how they align with her proven skills. What is she there to achieve in a time scale chart to allow us to scrutinise whether she has improved patient outcomes and care or not.

      Perhaps Hancock could give us an explanation of why the post does not require medical qualifications. He is answerable to us. It is a shame he isn’t expected to do a weekly blog.

  22. The Prangwizard
    Posted August 24, 2020 at 7:20 am | Permalink

    I’d like to read something more assertive on this issue. Which five quangos, as a start, would you, Sir John, abolish?

    That would be a demonstration of leadership and belief. Would you be prepared to stick your neck out? It should not be difficult.

    • dixie
      Posted August 25, 2020 at 6:06 am | Permalink

      The TPA identified around 400 bodies in 2017 that ought to be disbanded or incorporated into official departments.

  23. BJC
    Posted August 24, 2020 at 7:21 am | Permalink

    Ministers can delegate the work, but they can never delegate the responsibility, yet it’s clear that these quangos are left to their own devices to do whatever they want, changing their fundamental role and objectives for their own benefit. If Ministers can’t be bothered to do the routine and fundamental work of “checks and balances” they will face many preventable surprises and power struggles and deservedly so, because they have failed to manage their area of responsibility.

    It’s disrepsectful and unfair to staff to attach such little importance to the art of management, so to protect Ministers and others there should be an ongoing and compulsory management training programme. Management needs to be recognised as a separate career requiring an entirely different skillset to produce desired outcomes through others than to do it yourself…….quite frankly, some will never be capable of doing it.

  24. majorfrustration
    Posted August 24, 2020 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    Not again

  25. Will in Hampshire
    Posted August 24, 2020 at 7:53 am | Permalink

    An interesting piece on ConservativeHome today has a link to projections of new house-building targets for local authorities based upon Mr Jenrick’s new algorithm. Apparently, Wokingham will need to find room for another 1,635 houses in the coming years. This is more than double the number required to be delivered under the current system. I don’t live in the constituency, but perhaps our host and those who do might offer their views on this? In my own constituency we face another 512, a similar (if slightly smaller) proportionate increase. This despite non-stop housebuilding around the area in recent years: when will this madness stop?

    Reply I am against such numbers and will be replying to the government Consultation document next month.

    • Everhopeful
      Posted August 24, 2020 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

      Will
      It won’t stop until the whole country is concreted over and every dwelling is a teetering 10 storey ( or more) edifice.
      And STILL there will be newcomers billeted in 4 star hotels waiting for their house!
      Talk about going to Hell in a handcart!

  26. Dave Andrews
    Posted August 24, 2020 at 7:53 am | Permalink

    Ofqual has appeared in the crosshairs, but should we complain when they were asked to assess students without them sitting exams? Surely this was outside the scope of their activity.
    Moderating qualifications seems a valid case for a quango, seeing as it is basically apolitical.
    Quangos that are driven by the political bias of their leadership, with little accountability to parliament are the ones that are suspect. I nominate the Equalities and Human Rights Commission for abolition. This exists to pursue a political agenda of those in charge of it. Let anyone with a complaint consider whether they can risk their own money in bringing a case, just as I do. The law is there and the courts are open (usually). Let political decisions be made by the politicians we elect and can remove.

    • acorn
      Posted August 24, 2020 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

      It is not just the Quango / NDPB that needs reviewing, it is the legislation that caused them to be set up in the first instance that really needs a swinging axe. In 2013 the Cabinet Office set up the “Public bodies transformation programme 2016 to 2020”. It has just got round to reviewing the Cabinet Office that set it up. Sounds like a perpetual merry-go-round.

      Every new government and several times more new ministers can’t resist messing with the organisations they inherit. They pile new legislation on top of old legislation, often creating conflicts with other legislation; often creating turf wars and confusion at lower operating levels. The latter particularly at Local Government level.

      Ofqual is a £18 million a year “non-ministerial government department” that was set up in April 2010 under the Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Act 2009 and by the Education Act 2011. Public Health England is a £300 million a year “executive agency” of the Department of Health and Social Care, created by the Health and Social Care Act 2012.

      Have a look the thousands of pieces of UK legislation; including all the EU Regulations that will need reviewing post Brexit. https://www.legislation.gov.uk/all

      • Edward2
        Posted August 24, 2020 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

        Quangos started before even Blair and Brown.
        More historical nonsense from you.

  27. Alan Jutson
    Posted August 24, 2020 at 8:07 am | Permalink

    Looks like time for a change of how things are done.

    Problem is prioritisation given we have so many changes to make.

    Perhaps we should go through all of them all in size of budget order, with the largest ones first.

    Who would be the first three on the list JR.?

  28. ukretired123
    Posted August 24, 2020 at 8:12 am | Permalink

    2020 should mark the Clean-out of dead wood 19th Century bureaucracy and EU interference in a streamlined digital system fit for the brave new Sovereign UK but built not by Public sector.
    Unfortunately this will never happen.

  29. formula57
    Posted August 24, 2020 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    An attractive solution might be rather to double the number of quangos so that each one had a direct competitor replicating its efforts.

    Provided the market thereby created enjoyed efficient flow of information to “customers” so they could make an informed choice of which to engage with, and duopolistic practises were thwarted (inter alia by Ministerial oversight and regulation) and failing quangoes were closed down, then performance and delivery ought to see strong improvement typically.

    • a-tracy
      Posted August 25, 2020 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

      Is that such a bad idea, a quango for Education in the North and a quango for Education in the South, Quango for Education in the Midlands, same level of funding as now, compare outcomes, Scotland is allowed to do it – whatever way they want aren’t they? We’re happy to let Wales have quangos – let’s just have more and compare them all – a big problem for them, no extra budget and they’d have to sell or get out of leased offices in London.

  30. Cuibono
    Posted August 24, 2020 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    Liberal lefties and Marxist culture warriors love the Quango racket. They get the autonomy to pursue policies at variance with the values of the population who fund them and whom they are supposed to serve, but when things go pear-shaped (as all things leftie inevitably do in the end), there is a government minister to stand up in front of the media and take the flak. They have become a state within a state where initiates game the system, wafting from Quango to Quango, rarely held to account for their performance, and on ever more inflated salaries. This racket is detested by the vast majority of the population, and the government needs to end it as a matter of urgency.

  31. Javelin
    Posted August 24, 2020 at 9:09 am | Permalink

    A business would have thought about the consequences of a total lockdown and realised when it is lifted then the old and vulnerable would catch the virus.

    A person driven by results would have realised only the vulnerable should have been protected and measures put in place to protect them in the future. We could have spent 6 months optimising protection of the vulnerable. Now we are back at stage 1 and too scared to lift the lockdown.

    • a-tracy
      Posted August 25, 2020 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

      My husband said the consequences of going into total Covid Lockdown was that it would be more tricky to get out of.

      We adjusted quickly in March. Made fast decisions and adjusted some of those decisions with help from the staff and by listening to them and their ideas.

      It will be the children mixing with grandparents that will cause the second problem. That is the risk grandparents are going to have to take for themselves.

  32. John Brown
    Posted August 24, 2020 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    Civil servants are supposed to be politically neutral and to work to implement the wishes of the minister/government.

    Is it the case that quangos can be as politically biased as they wish?

    • steve
      Posted August 24, 2020 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

      John Brown

      “Civil servants are supposed to be politically neutral and to work to implement the wishes of the minister/government.”

      They’re also privileged to serve in publicly funded office, and are therefore answerable to the public. The problem is they don’t see themselves as servants, and believe their fat pension is a divine right.

  33. jerry
    Posted August 24, 2020 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    OT; If the risk of catching Covid-19 in schools is so low, why is Scotland -now using real-time stats- apparently making the wearing of face masks mandatory when students and staff move between classrooms. Why has this policy been brought in, because the number of school age students testing positive for Covid-19 has increased since the schools went back.

    UK Schools have not been in full operation since early March, so how the govt can draw any statistical conclusions using data from the partial return in June is boarding being nonsensical.

    The issue is not about what effect Covid-19 has on a child, we all know the risk is slight, but children live in family groups, some with multiple generations, some with adults who already have health issues. The issue is the risk of contagion, not the effect of the virus on children.

    The only Covid-19 secure schools are full term-time boarding schools, because they after the initial 14 days they have created their own single and thus manageable ‘bubble’.

    • a-tracy
      Posted August 24, 2020 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

      That is interesting Jerry ” the number of school age students testing positive for Covid-19 has increased since the schools went back”

      Where did you get this information from? Have they identified where they caught it from? Had they been abroad on holiday? Were their families the ones that caught it in the Aberdeen pub spread? Were they tested because they had symptoms or just random? What triggered the test at the school?

      Won’t the government be able to draw statistics from all the key workers children educated throughout the lockdown when you think about it from families who had the most risk of spreading the disease?

      • jerry
        Posted August 25, 2020 at 7:32 am | Permalink

        @a-tracy; The Covid-19 problems facing Scottish schools were widely reported across the MSM a week to 10 days back. As for the rest of your diatribe, trying to excuse the issue, all you do is make my poin5t, it matters not a jot were the original infection occurred but the fact that schools are perfect places for its onward spread – hence why they were closed even before the original national lock-down!

        As for stats, no you can not draw any conclusions from barely filled corridors between lessons, its like saying commuter trains are safe because the statistics are obtained during the night.

        • a-tracy
          Posted August 25, 2020 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

          I didn’t read in the MSM a week to 10 days back how they were testing Scottish children, if they were being tested weekly or only if they have a temperature, who was selected for a test, or whether they were tested randomly?

          Today “The Scottish government has stressed that these are part of community clusters which have had an impact on schools, rather than school-based clusters.” BBC
          “NHS Lanarkshire said there is currently no evidence to suggest that there is transmission in the schools and the risk to the wider school community has currently been assessed as low. Clusters of cases in Lanarkshire and north east Glasgow are believed to be linked, with house parties thought to have played a part in the spread of the virus.”

          It is important that the full picture is known to people, especially as sending children home with suspected covid will put their parents out of work for 14 days too.

          I am not trying to excuse any issue – why are you saying that?

          I’ve been told that schools are planning staggered start times, staggard break times and lunchtimes to cut down on corridor meetings.

          Are high schools planning on taking each child’s temperature each day?
          What will trigger a test of a child?
          Will random sampling of children be used? I would and I would start with the children that are very susceptible to being absent and sick first.

          • jerry
            Posted August 25, 2020 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

            @a-tracy; It matters not were the original infection occurred, that is a smokescreen, what matters is the onward contagion of any infection, yes the family of young Fred might well have recently returned from abroad, or his parents have been to a pub or restaurant, but if Fred takes that family infection to school then that might well expands the web of contagion, not just within the school but within the local and perhaps even distant areas or age groups.

            One child testing positive for CV19 in a class could mean 30 other families being subjected to T&T and possible 14 day self-isolating, and what if the T&T goes wider into the work place of 30 those families, what if T&T has to involve the wider school due to shared transportation or after school gatherings that would not necessarily happened had the schools not been open. The govts plan appears ill-conceived, far to classroom centred, as I said their scheme would work well in boarding schools…

            If children can not pass the Covid-19 virus on why has the WHO suggested all children over the age of 12 should be wearing masks. Why has the Scottish govt, using real-time data, now mandated the wearing of face masks in certain places within schools, why have they mandated all children above 5 years of age should wear masks on school transport.

          • a-tracy
            Posted August 27, 2020 at 11:34 am | Permalink

            If we did discover Fred had come back from Country x infected, then so did Jodie and Kira from the same Country then we can take precautionary action on people that flew back from that same airport i.e. they must quarantine for 10-14 days and not go into school.

            One place in Austria was responsible directly for over 30 deaths not infections deaths.

            I personally don’t have a problem with children wearing masks if they come within 1.5m distance of each other and indoors, why wouldn’t the English and Welsh follow the Scottish efforts as they went back to school a fortnight before us and I would expect twists and turns to follow as data becomes available. I want more data though.

            What would your plan be then Jerry close schools down for a year?

        • NickC
          Posted August 25, 2020 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

          Jerry, It wasn’t a “diatribe” (your word) from A-tracy, it was a series of questions. You can tell because the sentences have a question mark – ? – after them.

    • Edward2
      Posted August 24, 2020 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

      It isn’t bordering being nonsensical at all.
      They have the figures for under 18 year olds and under 10 year olds who have caught Covid and then become really ill and it is a tiny figure.
      As the Government health expert said today you have a bigger chance of being hurt in a car accident.
      Children it seems have a very low ability to pass on the virus.

      • Know-Dice
        Posted August 24, 2020 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

        Yes that was specifically said by one of the countries top scientific advisors, will be interesting to see how far off target that will be in 3 months time 🙁

      • jerry
        Posted August 25, 2020 at 7:41 am | Permalink

        Funny how the hard right stop telling us that CV19 is “just Flu” when it suits their purpose, after all children are very good at passing on both the common cold and Flu…

        • Edward2
          Posted August 25, 2020 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

          It isnt “funny”
          It is just a fact as stated by WHO data and by UK experts.

          Hard right again…yawn
          Who are they?

        • NickC
          Posted August 25, 2020 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

          Jerry, No one that I’ve read maintains that Covid19 is “just a flu” – it is obviously a different illness. Having had Covid19 myself, I can assure you it’s like no other respiratory illness I’ve ever had before. What I and many other people, including doctors and epidemiologists, maintain is that Covid19’s death toll has been equivalent to that of a very bad flu season.

          • jerry
            Posted August 25, 2020 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

            @NickC; No one that I’ve read maintains that Covid19 is “just a flu”

            What, you do not read the comments of ‘Mark B’, for example, on this very site? Perhaps you don’t…

            “Covid19’s death toll has been equivalent to that of a very bad flu season.”

            The death toll would have been a lot worse than that “very bad flu season” had it not been for the lock-down and the ongoing restrictions – thus your assertion hard right hyperbole on stilts.

            You don’t seem to have grasped that many more people survive such flu due to drug treatments, or do not get flu due to vaccines, that is not the case with CV19 because there are few if any drugs to treat the virus and what (often highly invasive) treatments are effective against the effects of the virus can actually become the cause of death, due to blood clots for example.

      • jerry
        Posted August 25, 2020 at 7:49 am | Permalink

        @Edward2; The govt has no figures regarding the spread of Covid-19 in fully operational schools since early March for the simple reason – as i said- the schools have been closed to all but two years and the daycare of vulnerable children and those whose parents are essential workers. A modern secondary school can have more than 1k pupils & staff present.

        • Edward2
          Posted August 25, 2020 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

          Well yes Jerry because schools have largely been closed.
          I’m not sure what point you are trying to make.
          I guess you want to keep schools closed for another year or more.
          When will safe be safe enough for you?

          • jerry
            Posted August 25, 2020 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

            @Edward2; The point is, the govt does not actually know is schools are safe, they have no valid data!

          • Edward2
            Posted August 25, 2020 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

            Valid data…how can you have that?
            The virus is unique.
            It’s never happened before in modern times.
            Apparently you are now more qualified and visionary than all the UN and UK scientific experts.
            Well done Jerry
            You stay under your quilt.

        • a-tracy
          Posted August 25, 2020 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

          Fortunate that Scotland will provide the first two weeks information isn’t it?

          ie Those people tested + for the virus are there children told not to attend school at all? Did children breach this guidance?

          How often are teachers to be tested? Weekly?

          Has the school day been elongated to 8am to 5pm on different shift patterns to allow for more bubble groups?

          Will they be perhaps shortening the day from 5 one hour lessons to 3, and cutting group glasses like physical education?

  34. John Hatfield
    Posted August 24, 2020 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    As we have quangos, why do we need such a large civil service?

  35. MickN
    Posted August 24, 2020 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    The Health and Safety people are a case in point.
    When it was first set up and for the first few years it did good work enforcing safety on building sites etc that were causing deaths. When they had sorted this out they then had two choices. They either disband or come up with even more ridiculous subjects to justify their existence. An old manager of mine was about right when he said that he thought the job of the H&SE was to stop people dying, not to stop them cutting their finger.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted August 24, 2020 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

      So how did Grenfell Tower happen then?

      • Fred H
        Posted August 24, 2020 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

        oh, not again. Change the record.

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted August 25, 2020 at 10:18 am | Permalink

          Millions are still living with the same risk.

          As far as I know that is not true of any other European country.

          So much for “H&S gone mad” in the UK.

          • Edward2
            Posted August 25, 2020 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

            High rise buildings are clad all over the world.

          • a-tracy
            Posted August 25, 2020 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

            So who put the kite or required safety mark on the cladding if it didn’t meet British standards? It must have been cleared for use or so many organisations wouldn’t have used it would they?

      • Edward2
        Posted August 24, 2020 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

        Useless public sector controls and inspections.

    • glen cullen
      Posted August 24, 2020 at 10:20 pm | Permalink

      Correct – it’s a philosophy approach, while at Sydney harbour I noticed a sign saying sharks in harbour- advice against swimming, I asked my aussie friend why isn’t there a barrier, he said what do you need a barrier for, just don’t fall in

  36. Roy Grainger
    Posted August 24, 2020 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    You are right. Gavin Williamson constitutionally has no responsibility whatever for Ofqual and no right to intervene in decisions taken by them, yet he is blamed when they take bad decisions. The solution is simply to abolish them and make the DoE directly responsible for their functions.

    • a-tracy
      Posted August 24, 2020 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

      Prof Tina Issacs who sits on the Ofqual advisory group very clearly blamed Williamson, she said the government, via him one would presume, changed policy every 12 to 24 hours. This has not been answered or knocked back by GW. He is weak and ineffective to allow this.

  37. BillM
    Posted August 24, 2020 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    A Quango surely must be a hangover from the days of Sir Humphrey?
    It’s one idea to have a selection of real experts review a situation and report back their findings but quite another to provide a vehicle of reward to those who have given favours eg to Ministers. “Jobs for the Boys” in is called. When “Gongs” are out Quangos are in and all funded by the taxpayers who have no say in the matter.
    It is surprising that the Opposition never questions the Government, whoever they may be, on the use and value of such Quangos.
    All are comprised of unelected personnel so who are they ever accountable to? And why are they never audited?

  38. Iain Gill
    Posted August 24, 2020 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    Certainly the complaints process for all Quangos should be removed from the Quangos responsibility and given over to a new centralised body with genuine rules about impartiality, decency, honesty etc as would apply to police officers.

    None of the complaints people or processes in any of our Quangos are genuinely independent, and that is one of the core problems, as it take far too long for problems to be revealed honestly.

    New complaints body over all such quango’s to be staffed by retired front line cops or similar.

  39. Dennis Zoff
    Posted August 24, 2020 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    Good point John

    If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it!

    • a-tracy
      Posted August 24, 2020 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

      We’re responsible for making sure that: regulated qualifications reliably indicate the knowledge, skills and understanding students have demonstrated. assessments and exams show what a student has achieved. people have confidence in the qualifications that we regulate.

      About us – Ofqual – GOV.UKwww.gov.uk › Corporate information

      FAILED

  40. NickC
    Posted August 24, 2020 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    I see no reason why all quangos shouldn’t be eliminated. Quangos are a failed experiment – neither government nor private – but only a pretence of independence for political expediency. Some of the work should revert to the civil service, and some should be outsourced to specific contracts. The government can ensure that outsourcing does not become dominated by only a couple of giant service providers.

  41. glen cullen
    Posted August 24, 2020 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    Somewhere in Whitehall there’s a senior civil servant already mooting the idea of a super-qango to oversee and manage all the other qangos…..and you think I’m joking

    • Fred H
      Posted August 24, 2020 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

      He/she would have to head up the biggest Quango yet seen in order to ‘manage’ the rest.
      But then anything is possible it seems.

    • Lynn Atkinson
      Posted August 24, 2020 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

      😂😂 a skirt for the Cabinet Office to hide behind?

  42. Quentin Dark
    Posted August 24, 2020 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    The people who profit most from “arms-length” quangos are the permanent secretaries of the relevant departments. What did Jonathan Slater at the Department for Education do about the exam debacle? Or what did Chris Wormald at the Department of Health do about COVID19, and what is he doing now? Does Bernadette Kelly at the Dept of Transport have a view about smart motorways, or does she just trust the Highways Agency. The list goes on.
    Permanent secretaries are highly paid, with inflation proofed pensions, but they seem to glide through life without needing to take responsibility for anything.

  43. Everhopeful
    Posted August 24, 2020 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    I didn’t vote for the power I bestow on govt. to be devolved.
    I want the govt. I choose…not withstanding the lies it tells before election ….to carry out the policies I voted for.
    Get rid of all quangos …even the ones that you are pretending aren’t really quangos and ALL red tape while you are at it.
    And stop the boats!!

    • glen cullen
      Posted August 24, 2020 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

      Should be a manifesto promise

      • steve
        Posted August 24, 2020 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

        Glen

        Nobody believes manifesto promises anymore.

        • glen cullen
          Posted August 24, 2020 at 10:21 pm | Permalink

          too true

  44. Lynn Atkinson
    Posted August 24, 2020 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    I appreciate a link is a lot of work, but the argument based on economic facts it very encouraging. All the ex-Quango members should be able to find proper employment when we get shot of them!

    http://freenations.net/a-cessation-not-a-recession-british-economic-optimism/

  45. Richard Molyneux
    Posted August 24, 2020 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    I seem to recall David Cameron, some years ago, talking of a “Bonfire of the Quangos.” What Happened?

    • Fred H
      Posted August 24, 2020 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

      it rained on his parade.

    • agricola
      Posted August 24, 2020 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

      He threw petrol on it.

      Reading most of the posts above I detect a lot of disquiet and distrust of the government at present. Between now and the end of the year you are in need of a lot of positive, real conservative , factual news. Time to take on the semblance of a sovereign government intent on putting the Great back into Britain again.

  46. Mary Lowrey
    Posted August 24, 2020 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

    Build a bonfire, build a bonfire….

    Reduce the review period to three years and hopefully ne’er a one will remain at the end of it. God knows who will employ the sinecure squatters….

  47. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted August 24, 2020 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    Splendid. So let’s have a list of which quangos can be dispensed with and which can be cut down to size.

    During Margaret Thatcher’s privatisation in the early eighties, many regulatory quangos were created. Being a cynic, I wondered if they were created to gain the support of the civil service.

    • steve
      Posted August 24, 2020 at 7:42 pm | Permalink

      Lindsay

      “During Margaret Thatcher’s privatisation in the early eighties, many regulatory quangos were created.”

      And Blair promised to reverse those privatisations, but actually created more than she did.

    • Fred H
      Posted August 25, 2020 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

      WHAT IS A QUANGO?Quango (Quasi Autonomous Non-Governmental Organisation) is not an official term. The Cabinet Office lists Non-Departmental Public Bodies (NDPB) in its annual Public Bodies publication.NDPB – “a body which has a role in the processes of national Government, but is not a Government Department or part of one, and which accordingly operates to a greater or lesser extent at arm’s length from Ministers”.
      There are four types:Executive NDPBs – typically established in statute and carrying out executive, administrative, regulatory and/or commercial functions, e.g. Environment AgencyAdvisory NDPBs – provide independent, expert advice to Ministers on a wide range of issues, e.g. Low Pay CommissionTribunal NDPBs – have jurisdiction in a specialised field of law, e.g. Valuation TribunalsIndependent Monitoring Boards – of prisons and immigration centres.

      The Cabinet Office 2009 report on Non-Departmental Public Bodies (NDPBs) found: There are 766 NDPBs sponsored by the UK Government.
      The number has been falling: there were 790 in 2008 and 827 in 2007. The number of NDPBs has fallen by over 10% since 1997.
      Staffing and expenditure of NDPBs have increased. They employed 111,000 people in 2009 and spent £46.5 billion, of which £38.4 billion was directly funded by the Government.

      • Lindsay McDougall
        Posted August 27, 2020 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

        Ah, yes. Parkinson’s Law of the Civil Service: “Work expands to fill the time available”.

  48. Know-Dice
    Posted August 24, 2020 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    I had dealing with the Legal Ombudsman some years ago, all they were interested in was diversity and entity not the complaint that I raised against a solicitor…

    • Know-Dice
      Posted August 24, 2020 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

      Entity…. Doh
      Ethnicity…

  49. Mark
    Posted August 24, 2020 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

    I think Ministerial oversight is insufficient. There is a great temptation to paper over the cracks until the edifice falls down, hopefully after the Minister has departed. Much better that quangos should all have to be subjected to open examination in Parliament. A small committee of MPs per quango should be sufficient. Sunlight is the best disinfectant. Each quango should be require to link prominently to the examination hearing, so that other MPs, the general public and journalists can follow up on inadequacies.

  50. Ian Wilson
    Posted August 24, 2020 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

    Abolition of the Committee on Climate Change is long overdue. It ‘s scandalous that for years its chairman has been receiving six-figure sums via his business interests from renewable energy companies and makers of electric car batteries. Yet it has the nerve to prefix its title with the word “independent”.

  51. Everhopeful
    Posted August 24, 2020 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    Apparently the govt. is letting in the 3.5 MILLION Hong Kong people because their way of life is “under threat”.
    What about OUR way of life???
    I KNEW we were wrong to trust Boris.

    • steve
      Posted August 24, 2020 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

      Everhopeful

      “What about OUR way of life???”

      Be under no illusion, all governments since 1997 wish to see it destroyed.

  52. glen cullen
    Posted August 24, 2020 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

    Update covid– today deaths UK 4

    The average number of daily RTA deaths UK is 5…..but we don’t close the motorways or roads

    • Caterpillar
      Posted August 24, 2020 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

      And yet even knowing smart(?) motorways kill, the M3 and M25 role out continues whilst Hancock et al have scared people off public transport.

  53. Ian
    Posted August 24, 2020 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

    What is required is Professional business people, we all know the type
    A young Digby Johns.
    Yes and they need to be paid as if they were captains of industry, because that will have been there job anyway, they will come with a paper trail of there jobs .
    We want change, we desperately need to be rid of people such as those now in power.
    We did not vote for this rubbish, we do not expect to employ dis honest people, but that is what we have done?
    Some talked well enough, they new we wanted Brexit.
    They new they were all Remainers, so this was the biggest Betrayal ever I suspect, and yes we have been betrayed before, funnily enough, and we just got Betrayed yet again.
    There should be a punishment for this, as there would be in real life.
    These terrible people , will face no punishment except they might with luck get kicked out by
    The Brexit Party .
    And yes I like Trump to,oanother good man from the US said, it was Ronald Reagan two people that were not in Politics in the final analysis they will be seen as probably the two best Presidents, by virtue they they had common sence and great natural ability
    Politicians are not the answer They are the problem, boy do we know that now

    • Everhopeful
      Posted August 24, 2020 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

      Ooooh…Bl**dy well brilliantly said!!!

  54. Mike Wilson
    Posted August 25, 2020 at 7:10 am | Permalink

    There are few QUANGOs left. After all, David Cameron had a ‘bonfire’ of them after the 2010 election.

  55. John McDonald
    Posted August 25, 2020 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    These quangos are the direct result of privatisation of what were “nationalised ” public services. OFGEM and OFCOM are two which I have had some dealings with.
    You can’t actually complain to OFGEM and they subcontract this function out to a OMBUDSMAN service ( surprised PC has not yet complained about the title). OFCOM does have a previous history in the regulation of telecommunications dating back to the start of Radio and Landline communications. But now more interested in complaints about East Enders and trying to shut down RT. OFGEM is there to appear to keep an eye on the Energy Supply industry. But is only trying to justify the selling of Gas and Electricity at different prices to individual consumers. Should we all not pay the same price for our gas and electricity? So far they have not been able to do this for WATER.
    But of course we must have an OFWAT . How about an OFGOV for Government (of all parties) 🙂

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    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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