Quango bonfire

It has proved to be the post that has prompted most replies. Does anyone have the time to extract a list of all the quangos web goers want to see abolished, and send it in?


  1. Matt
    July 9, 2009

    Music and Dance Scheme Advisory Group

    1. Stuart Fairney
      July 9, 2009

      You are kidding, there is such a thing?

      1. Matt
        July 10, 2009

        Wound down now! No demos in the streets
        Even had PWC on the go


        Between 1999 and 2000 the Department undertook a wide-ranging review of the scheme with the help of consultants from PricewaterhouseCoopers. One of the recommendations in their Final Report was to set up an Advisory Group to oversee the future operation and development of the MDS.

        The Group was established by Estelle Morris, then Minister of State, in September 2000. Roger Lewis, then Managing Director and Programme Controller at Classic fM was appointed Chairman, with 14 other members, drawing on people with experience and knowledge of the music and dance worlds, the education and training of young musicians and dancers, and from business and the performing arts. The Group was extended in 2001 and 2002, and re-constituted in 2004 to include more representation from the maintained performing arts sector and from the wider dance sector. Tony Hall, Chief Executive at the Royal Opera House, succeeded Roger Lewis as Chairman in 2004.

        The Group has now completed its work and was wound up in the Summer 2007. Its last published report can be downloaded from this page (see below).

        Advisory Group’s Fifth Report 2004/05

  2. John Moss
    July 9, 2009

    This is everything that your posters suggested, plus some subsidiaries and clarifications where smaller authorities exist, russian doll style, within larger ones.

    Capacity Builders UK
    National School of Government
    Community Development Fund
    Equalities and Human Rights Commission
    Homes and Communities Agency (incorporating English Partnerships, Commission for New Towns and Housing Corporation)
    Agricultural and Horticultural Development Board (incorporating the Potato Council)
    Youth Citizenship Committee
    Complimentary and Natural Healthcare Council
    Financial Services Authority (incorporating FOS and FSCS)
    Primary Care Trusts
    British Council
    All Regional Assemblies
    All Regional Development Agencies
    Regeneration Centres of Excellence
    Local Strategic Partnerships
    Arts Councils
    Local Government Standards Board
    Confederation of Scottish Local Authorities
    Local Government Association
    Criminal Records Bureau
    National Parks Authorities (and other, lower level authorities like the Lea Valley Park Authority)
    All Safety Camera partnerships
    Health & Safety Executive

    Rural Payments Agency
    Business Link
    Learning and Skills Council
    Horseracing Betting Levy Board
    Charities Commission
    Passenger Focus
    Gene Therapy Advisory Council
    Action on Smoking and Health
    UK Atomic Energy Commission
    Sustainable Development Commission
    All Office of Fair Trading subsidiaries like OFGEM, OFCOM etc
    Retained Organs Commission
    Energy Saving Trust
    Act on CO2
    Carbon Trust

  3. Raedwald
    July 9, 2009

    Well, JUST in the field of Agriculture and Food, I reckon we could cut the following existing Quangos down to half a dozen;

    – School Food Trust
    – Agricultural Wages Board for England and Wales
    – Agricultural Wages Committees for England x 15
    – British Potato Council
    – Food from Britain
    – Gangmasters Licensing Authority
    – Home Grown Cereals Authority
    – Horticulture Development Council
    – Meat and Livestock Commission
    – Milk Development Council
    – Sea Fish Industry Authority
    – Wine Standards Board
    – Advisory Committee on Organic Standards
    – Advisory Committee on Packaging
    – Advisory Committee on Pesticides
    – Agricultural Dwelling House Advisory Committees x 18
    – Animal Health and Welfare Strategy England Implementation Group
    – Committee of Investigation for Great Britain
    – Committee on Agricultural Valuation
    – Consumers’ Committee for Great Britain under the Agriculture Marketing Act 1958
    – Farm Animal Welfare Council
    – Hill Farming Advisory Committee for England, Wales and Northern Ireland
    – Independent Agricultural Appeals Panel
    – Independent Scientific Group on Cattle TB
    – Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee
    – Agricultural Land Tribunals
    – Commons Commissioners
    – Dairy Produce Quota Tribunal
    – Plant Varieties and Seeds Tribunal
    – Alcohol Education and Research Council
    – Committee on Carcinogenicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment
    – Committee on Mutagenicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment
    – Herbal Medicines Advisory Committee
    – Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition
    – Advisory Committee on Animal Feedstuffs
    – Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes
    – Advisory Committee on Research
    – Advisory Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Food
    – Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment
    – Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes (ACNFP)
    – Expert Group on Vitamins and Minerals
    – WRAP (minimisation of food waste)
    – Marine & Fisheries Agency
    – Rural Payments Agency
    – Animal Health

    1. David Eyles
      July 9, 2009

      This is an excellent list of the status quo. However. looking down that list I can see several that have at least some sort of putative value.

      Agriculture desperately needs more, not less, research input in all sorts of topics. What is needed is a total re-organisation of agricultural research so that the good parts which reside in this list are plucked out and enhanced. i.e. those elements and people which contain productive work or science. Then get rid of 95% of the admin. Wholesale. That way, farmers will get the advice and the innovation that we need, from a balanced and non commercial source. The efficiency and effectiveness of this will be increased enormously, whilst the cost to the taxpayer is dramatically reduced.

      It would also simplify “delivery” of services.

      1. james harries
        July 10, 2009

        a reply to the reply…

        why does the consumer have to pay for the producer’s research?

        in the last century we have invented engines which made horses and oxen redundant, so farmers could use 100% of their land to grow food instead of 60%. we invented weedkillers which made the land produce 95% useful crop instead of 50% useful crop. we developed bug/drought/flood resistant strains which took the risk out of planting all at the same time. we developed higher yield varieties. soon we can sow genetically modified crops which will produce reliable food with a bar code on every stalk…

        by any analysis, agricultural land has tripled in productivity, thanks to external efforts which were not made by the farmers.

        so why is farming in such dire straits that it needs one third of the entire EU budget spent supporting it?

        could it be anything to do with the farmers?

        let them get together and fund their own research. enough pulling on the teat of the taxpayer, already.

        1. David Eyles
          July 10, 2009

          In the nineteenth century, food prices to the consumer amounted to 70 to 80% of their disposable income. Now that figure is less than 10%. You, the consumer are getting more and cheaper food than ever before in history. The cost of increased production and efficiency is that farm incomes are increasingly marginal until we have reached the point where many, many are going out of business. Dairy farms in particular are in a dire mess, with family units no longer able to carry on because of the stranglehold the supermarkets have over the market. The UK used to be self sufficient in liquid milk and now we are importing it. And that situation exists despite the lifeline provided by the taxpayer in the form of farm payments.

          As things stand at the moment, with all the imbalances in the market and the unwillingness of the consumer to pay more money for food, the overnight abolition of CAP would mean that UK and European food production would drop dramatically. And the first whingers in the lengthening food queues would be those who think that farmers have it easy by dipping into the taxpayers’ pockets.

          In the meantime, we need more government research not less. I am not asking for more money to be spent by the taxpayer, only that the same budget (or a slightly smaller one)could be spent to so much better effect.

          Incidentally, the basic laws of dimishing returns dictates that agricultural technology demands more and more money to be sunk into acheiving fewer returns in terms of production. The eigteenth, nineteenth and twentieth century strides forward were a lot easier to attain than much smaller advances now.

    2. Guy Herbert
      July 10, 2009

      You left out the biggest of all, the Food Standards Agency. This is a recent creation to give official power to those agitators on the subject who established their profile over the preceeding thirty years. It has done nothing to benefit the public, but is merely mechanism for reproducing a particular quasi-consumerist ideology of puritanism and the promotion of virtual risk.

      The great improvements in food variety and quality since, say, 1980 has been driven by market competition not bureaucratic ‘standards’. Even in 1980 food safety was scarcely a problem at all in this country.

      1. james harries
        July 10, 2009

        sorry i can’t reply to the reply of the reply of david eyles, but…
        1. thanks for not flaming me like most blog posts do.
        2. it’s a complicated question, but
        a) do you think it just or sustainable that a sector gets 20-50% of its income from the taxpayer, and not from its production?
        3. my remark that farmers have not been exactly at the forefront of technological change stands
        4. your complaint that a long supply chain raises prices is nonsense. i’ve just taken delivery of 500kg of goods on a pallet, transported about 800 miles, for 130€ – try doing it for that price on a horse and cart – and looking through the con numbers there were about 8 trucking firms involved in the delivery, done in three days though you can pay a bit extra to have it in 48hrs.
        5. the distinction between government and taxpayer you seem to make is illusory – the government’s money comes from the taxpayer.
        6. if it was so easy to “make efficiencies” these would mostly have already been made.
        to guy herbert:
        logically, if we disregarded the food standards agency and used a smell test to check the use-by date on our food, food prices would fall because there’d be less waste. yes i do disregard use-by dates myself and i’m still alive
        yes mr eyles, my brain might have turned spongiform
        it’s a fascinating and complex question (we haven’t even started the one about third world impoverishment because of the CAP) and i’d like to think… but maybe the honourable member for wokingham’s blog is not the place for agricultural debate.

    July 9, 2009

    We think this underlines a point that has come out regularly in the research we have conducted amongst Essex voters over the last 18 months.
    Government waste is a burning grievance at all levels of the electorate and far from the ‘Westminster Bubble’ thing that the media intelligensia often allege.

    Another is the level of government incompetence and ‘cock-ups’ and perhaps you might run a post on that subject too.

    Both are potent electoral weapons for the opposition we conclude.

  5. Mick Anderson
    July 9, 2009

    I suspect that it would be quicker and easier to make a list of the Quangos we want to keep.

    Here is my list.

    Short, isn’t it?

  6. Mick Anderson
    July 9, 2009

    I’ve gone though the current 97 responses and think that this is a reasonably comprehensive list of all the requests. Apologies for any duplication – I’ve taken out as many as I can.

    Capacitybuilders UK Ltd
    National School of Government
    Community Development Foundation
    Equal Opportunites commission
    The Housing Corporation
    Potato Council (both of them???)
    Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board
    The Youth Citizenship Committee
    BBC (depending on your definition of Quangos!)
    FSMA 2000
    The Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC)
    The Equality and Human Rights Commission
    PCTs (all of them)
    British Council
    English regional assemblies
    Arts Council & Scottish Arts Council
    Local Government Standards Board
    Confederation of Scottish Local Authorities
    Local Government Association
    The Standards Board
    Criminal Records Bureau
    National Park Authorities (all of them, especially the New Forest)
    Homes and Communities Agency
    Regional Development Agencies (all of them)
    Health and Safety Executive
    Learning and skills council
    Horserace Betting Levy Board
    Speed Camera Partnerships (all of them)
    The “Think!” campaign (from within the Transport Dept)
    The Charity Commission
    Gene Therapy Advisory Committee (to be integrated into the Dept of Heath)
    Action on Smoking and Health
    UK Atomic Energy Commission
    Council for the Protection of Rural England
    Sustainable Development Commission
    EU (depending on your definition of Quangos!)
    One North East
    The Retained Organs Commission
    The consolidation of the Energy Saving Trust, Act On C02 and The Carbon Trust
    Bank of England (possibly tongue in cheek)
    Welsh assembly
    The proposed 17 new Conservative Quangos, preferably before they are formed

    Reply: Thanks!. I am assured there are not 17 new Conservative ones, and look forward to the detailed rebuttal.

  7. Lola
    July 9, 2009

    Here is the link to the TPA report ‘The unseen government of the UK’.


    It lists 1162 quangos.

    Scrap them all.

  8. Mike Stallard
    July 9, 2009

    I have just come back from lovely Crakow in Poland. Marvellous!
    But it has convinced me that the main quango to get rid of is the EU Commission. We Brits are just not European. I think we ought to leave Europe to the Europeans. Like Japan, Singapore or Sri Lanka, we are an off shore island that trades with the world. Mad? Read Lord Tebbit’s letter in the Telegraph today.
    The Regional Assemblies are, of course, EU invented. So they should go with all their worldly pomp.
    The final urgent one is, of course, IPSA. I elect my MP. Mr Brown or his successors has absolutely no right to take that from me.

    After that, please see above. I want my country governed again my people who I choose, not by toadies appointed by a corrupt government.

  9. Mark
    July 9, 2009

    Please don’t forget the NHPAU – I think it was my post about them in the thread about QUANGO chiefs that set off the tsunami. These people are injurious to your real wealth.

  10. Adrian Peirson
    July 9, 2009

    Why, the Govt is not going to cut them, that’s how the Govt, Governs, quangos are how they exhert micropmanipulative control over all of our lives.
    They are not going to give them up.
    £100 billion these wastefull organistaiona cost us, what do they do, do they fish, farm, do they build cars, or ships, do they nurse the sick.
    No, they sit on the backs of those that do and dream up ever more ways of controlling, fining and taxing their lives,
    they are parasites, a cancer on society.
    It is having to pay for these Cancerous parasites that ensures both parenst must now spend 8 hours a day, five days per week working, away from their family, away from their children.
    Your average well organised caveman only had to spend a few hours per day forgaging for food on average.

    Is this progress.

    We are being enslaved, We are sliding into Communism.

  11. Pauline
    July 9, 2009

    How about …

    The South East Regional Partnership Board and all its subsidiary bodies

  12. Roger Hird
    July 9, 2009

    I don’t want to be a wet blanket but just listing everything you think is a “quango” (including, in some of the lists above, charities, trade associations and lobbying bodies) and saying it ought to be abolished is not particularly sensible.

    Quite a few of the bodies listed may or may not be “quangoes” – there appears to be confusion about whether the “ng” in the acronym means “non-government” or “national government” – but many are certainly government “executive agencies” and my memory is that this form of organisation was introduced by Mrs Thacher’s government because it was felt to be more efficient and effective than having large service delivery operations embedded in the ordinary civil service structure of a government department. Actually from my own experience the model worked reasonably well.

    Does the person who thinks the DVLA (an executive agency so probably not a quango) should be abolished think that drivers and vehicles no longer need licenses or that it would be more efficient for the essentially regulatory process to be brought back into the main body of the Department of/for Transport – or whatever it is being called this week?

    Does the person who thinks the “National School of Government” (which, again, is I THINK an executive agency) think that the government should not have a central training body for the civil service (for that is what it is)?

    I’m more than ready to believe that there are savings to be made amongst these bodies round the edges of government but specific examples of real quangoes that are demonstrably not doing a useful or necessary job would be more convincing – just throwing handfuls of acronyms around however good it might make people feel.

    Roger Hird

    PS I must declare an interest. I am a member of a quango – a tiny one: we monitor and provide advice to the government on one of its research programmes. All the members (most of whom work in industry) give their time and expertise for nothing. I guess you could get consultants to do the work but they’d cost a lot more.

    1. Jonathan
      July 11, 2009

      Regarding the National School of Government, we already have a number of institutions related to education.

      Also, do we need a school to teach people to be a “civil servant”, or alternatively do we need schools to teach people do the various things that civil servants are required to do, which varies from department to department.

      1. Roger Hird
        July 12, 2009

        It’s entirely reasonable to question any specific item of government expenditure – less sensible is just to throw a handful of acronms in the air drying “abolish the lot”.

        I asked about the National School of Government because I had some experience of it when it was the Civil Service College and felt it was doing necessary things that weren’t available off-the-shelf from other providers of training and education. Then it was mainly aimed at the “fast stream” training programme for graduate entrants and specific training for the Senior Civil Service. Other large employers both in the public and the private sector have specialised in house training operations for such groups and not just in the UK – heard of the ENA? As far as mainstream Civil Service training is concerned , much is outsourced and most training of junior staff is provided/contracted by individual departments. My memory is that the Civil Service College made extensive use of external expertise.

        The important questions, regarding any government function, are (i) whether the function is needed, then (ii) whether it can best be provided by a specialised, in house provision and then (iii) whether that should be centralised or distributed.
        Decisions are not always made sensibly like this but certainly from the 1970s onwards this sort of analysis was increasingly part of the mechanisms underlying any new initiative or major restructuring, with since 1979, strong presumptions in favour of outsourcing, driven by the Treasury.

        By the way, in my original post something got deleted in the last para – but I think the sense struggled through – and regarding the National School of Government, I find that it is not an executive agency but a non-departmental public body. The old College had been an agency.

  13. Emil
    July 9, 2009


    All of them , including the 17 your leader wants to create……..

  14. Jon
    July 9, 2009

    When it comes to quangos and we all know this government has some stupid ones, let them do the job and then disband them. A Potatoe Council? If you feel the need to run a campaign, run it then disband it, don’t keep it on the books.

  15. David Whitford
    July 10, 2009

    As a small addendum to the list of good works & valuable investment of taxpayer’s cash carried out by the regional development agencies, I note that the North-West Regional Development Agency is the main sponsor of the National Football Museum (Preston) Hall of Fame.

  16. Ian Kiley
    July 17, 2009

    When deciding on whether to axe a quango we simply need to ask ourselves..”would we miss them if they weren’t there” If we’re butally honest the answer will invariably be NO. Many quangos when threatened will no doubt waste even more money & run themselves ragged by measuring & justifying their existence to their political piers who created them in the first place.

    As a consequence of winding down these quangos (without creating new ones) politiciancs will have to accept the consequence of higher unemployement but in the long run it will be better for the economy as a whole.

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