There are too many quangos. The panoply of regional government quangos in England need to be abolished, returning to Councils or national government those powers and budgets that are still needed. There are numerous national quangos that reflect past problems, set up in haste but allowed to develop a life of their own when the case for their existence was at best tenuous. Do we still need a National College for School leadership or a Quality Improvement Agency for lifelong learning?
Despite the rise and rise of the quango state – or maybe partly because of it – civil service numbers have also soared. In 1979 when the Conservatives took over they inherited a civil service of 735,000. By 1997 at the end of their period in office this had fallen to 450,000. Today it is back where it was in 1979., with more quangos as well!
In many cases there is substantial overlap, or multiplication of quangos where one streamlined generic one would suffice. Why do we need an Energy Savings Trust, Environmental campaigns, Environwise and an Air Quality Standards body as well as an Environment Agency? Couldn’t the EA do those things as well? Do we need a Health Protection Agency, a National Patient Safety Agency and a Commission for Patient and public involvement in Health as well as all the public sector Health trusts and bodies designed to deliver such a service? Wouldn’t one amalgamated standards body be sufficient?
When it comes to regulating private sector businesses, we need to accept that competition is the best regulator, and move to more competition in water, power and communications as quickly as possible. In the meantime do we need Ofgem, Ofcom and Postcom as well as the Office of fair Trading? Couldn’t they all be managed by the OFT?
In the housing and planning field, do we need the Housing and Communities Agency? Why can’t public money be distributed direct by the department? Can we abolish the regional housing and planning quangos, restoring authority to Councils for local matters and to Whitehall for national matters?
This is your opportunity to write in with your pet quango abolition proposal. We are going to need regular use of the R word and the A word – repeal and abolition.