Mr Gove should appoint the person he considers best


It is difficult to believe that there is so much fuss over Mr Gove’s decision not to reappoint a Labour peeress to a Quango on expiry of her contract.  It is even more bizarre to complain that he is trying to politicise these appointments, when the outgoing person is a Labour politician.

As we have now read, Labour made many more Labour appointments to quangos than the Coalition has made Conservative appointments, adjusted for the periods of time involved so far. I saw nothing wrong in principle with Labour Ministers appointing Labour supporters to these important jobs. Doubtless they wanted people running these arms of the state who shared their general world view and aims. Of course they needed to undertake fair recruitment process and ensure that if someone was a known Labour supporter they had the qualifications and experience to justify the appointment. So why then do they dare to complain if occasionally Conservative Ministers take the same view about their supporters? Should a known Conservative who is qualified now be banned from a quango appointment because he or she is a Conservative?

This row raises some wider issues. Why is so much power concentrated in the hands of these quangos, when Ministers maybe should take more control and accept more responsibility for what is going on.  There is no evidence that so called independent bodies are better at judging matters than elected Ministers acting on good professional advice. Just look at the mess the independent Bank of England and the FSA made of banking regulation, bringing on the worse crash in more than century. Previous Chancellors who had more direct control did better. Or look at the Environment Agency’s decision to allow  floods in  large parts of the country.

Can we really believe there are truly independent people in areas of great contention? The global warming theory supporters would not regard an appointee to the job of Environment Agency Head  as properly qualified if they   did not believe in global warming theory . Anti global warming theorists regard the appointment of a pro theory person as  folly or treachery. These are political minefields, and no-one is in this case “independent”. A School Inpsector who believes comprehensives are best might set different standards from one who thinks the best grammars and private sector schools are the ones to match. This again is political territory.

I favour bringing more powers back from quangos to Ministers. Better still let’s find more powers quangos have which we could return to people and  businesses, leaving them freer to do as they see fit. And let Mr Gove choose who he will. It will be his results that we judge in 2015, so he should have the helpers he needs to do the job.




  1. lifelogic
    February 5, 2014

    In the dying months of this government surely one of the few useful thing the Tories could still do is stuff government with sensible JR, Jacob Rees-Mogg, Norman Tebbit, Dan Hannah types in all the top jobs. Not for political reasons but because these types have a sensible approach that does work, rather than a socialist one that we know does not.

    Alas under Cameron the appointments he makes, Lord Patten types are no different to the ones Labour would make. This as essentially, Cameron could easily be in the Labour Party, he is simply no different to Bliar. The only difference being that he has occasionally to say (but rarely actually do) something sensible for the sensible wing of perhaps just 100 MPs.

    Having Labour views (or indeed the absurd Catastrophic Global Warming religion views) is a very good reason indeed not to appoint someone to anything, This as they will clearly tend to push an expensive agenda that causes harm, inefficiency, mediocrity and simply does not work. An agenda that will eventually run out of other people’s money. It also tend to show a degree of stupidity, a lack of understanding of human nature, an inability to observe the world as it is and lack of reason & logic. Left wing view are usually a triumph of emotion and religion over reason, wishful thinking over experience, envy and jealousy over what works.

    Alas the foolish Tory MPs appointed Cameron and the result was that he lost the sitting duck election and is about the bury the party for many years. Halving the membership and as Simon Heffer pointed out on Newsnight last night almost destroying the local associations and the troops on the ground.

    1. lifelogic
      February 5, 2014

      “stuff government departments and quangos”.

      Start with the socialist stuffed BBC, they drip the nation with endless lefty, AGW, pro EU, big state drivel almost every hour of the day. Distorting the whole political debate in an absurd BBC think way.

    2. stred
      February 5, 2014

      Even Bliar probably would not have given his hairdresser an honour and engineered gay marriage and then said it was so that young boys didn’t have to worry about who they loved. Personally, I worried about loving my Mummy more than my Dad, but I can’t imagine Harold Macmillan introducing legislation about it.

    3. Lifelogic
      February 5, 2014

      Someone at PM questions just asked Cameron about the tidal damage at Dawlish linking it to Climate change. What on earth has climate change go to do with it? High tides and strong winds are hardly new. The Moon has been around for some time.

      What is the best approach for the Cornwall/Devon railway line? Better sea defences a stronger or repositioned railway line or more absurd windmills and roof PVs across the country making no difference at all to world C02 outputs?

      Also: Investing in solar PV can provide a better financial return than a traditional pension, according to energy and climate change minister say Greg Barker.

      Complete and utter nonsense, not even with the absurd & totally wasteful large tax payer subsidy! Just do the sums and include replacement costs, maintenance, insurance, cleaning, devaluation of your house etc. It is economic insanity.

      1. stred
        February 6, 2014

        The head of a junior school was featured on BBC News last week, extolling the virtues of PV. He said it was a ‘no brainer’ and he was teaching his pupils how wonderful it was. Free electricity that paid for school trips etc. In his case it was hard to disagree. Then the trade spokesman who hoped they would eventally supply 3% of national needs.

        No mention of intermittent supply or the true cost. World Nuclear Assn. cost in US cent/kWh- Nukes 5, Wind onshore 9-14, Wind offshore 13.8-18.8, PV 28.7-41, and all paid on other customer’s bills.

        Greg Barker probably believes it like the schoolchildren.

        1. stred
          February 6, 2014

          PV is also given as best return on EPCs and the Green(mugs) Deal.

    4. APL
      February 5, 2014

      lifelogic: “Alas the foolish Tory MPs ..”

      There is signs of intelligence in the Tory rank and file. Bye bye Tim Yeo.

      1. Lifelogic
        February 5, 2014

        Only after 30 years or so, even then it was a close vote? What about the other nearly 200 rather similar “career” so call Tory politicians or “consultants” for hire?

        Miliband made a good point to Cameron today after Cameron mentioned Lady Thatcher: “at least Lady Thatcher won elections” he said. Indeed she did 3 + one with Major as he chosen man before people spotted he was a wrong’un and because she for once actually believed in real Tory policies.

  2. alan jutson
    February 5, 2014

    Seems sensible to me.

    I agree, Quango’s seem to be very expensive and a complete waste of time, indeed I do believe that they muddy the waters of responsibility

    The people who are in charge of the departments of State, should be responsible for their performance, otherwise what is the point of them holding the position.

    The above of course flags up another problem of the quality of some MP’s to run anything properly.

    No substitute for employing the capable, rather than the political.

  3. Arschloch
    February 5, 2014

    You can put in as many party placement in as you like but it will never change the liberal establishment who hate middle England with a vengeance. Over the years we have had the absurdities of CoE bishops who do not believe in the resurrection. A JAG who has just condemned a brave soldier to life in jail. Perhaps someone should send him a copy of “Saving Private Ryan” and let him see what happens when you let a POW go free. This would have certainly happened in this case, as after the army surgeons had stabilised him he would be straight back to the ranks of the Taliban. While we all know about the judiciary who believe a rapist’s right to a family life is paramount over the safety of the women of Britain.

    1. Timaction
      February 5, 2014

      Unfortunately we live in a Country where patriotism and common sense died years ago. We are infested with a majority federalist lefty idealists in Westminster who think its right to support all thing EU, Human Rights, foreign aid, mass migration above the indigenous population and National interest. History will show this to be the most quisling non Government ever. Surprised they (LibLabCons) hid the EU Government from its people long enough for them to take over. When this is over we should have some show trials of those who have betrayed this Country and its people.
      I read that the EU paid for a £65,ooo advert in the London Standard to promote itself this week. Paid for out of our taxes. What do we hear from our Government? Nothing. Our taxes being confiscated to further the EU dictatorship.

      1. Lifelogic
        February 5, 2014

        What was this ad?

        1. Timaction
          February 6, 2014

          London Standard, beginning of the week.

      2. forthurst
        February 5, 2014

        “Unfortunately we live in a Country where patriotism and common sense died years ago.”

        Can I rephrase that? “Unfortunately we live in a country in which the political class put their own short term financial and career interests above that of the future of the country they have been elected to serve.”

        Just watching today’s episode of Crosstalk (@ 19.30 mins) on, I was struck by a comment by Mark Almond when he said (re Ukraine), that Russia sees it as an economic issue, offering billions in economic aid, whereas the EU, US sees it in geopolitical terms, offering hundreds of millions to buy out the policial class and the media and its they who decide a country’s fate, a pattern which has taken place throughout Eastern Europe and which has seen a flood of economic migrants to the West, fleeing the economic devastation that EU membership has caused. (Very approx paraphrase).

        Our political class has been bought out; what are we going to do?

  4. Old Albion
    February 5, 2014

    Mr Gove should be more honest by declaring his brief to be, education in England (only) at every opportunity. But he doesn’t.

    1. The PrangWizard
      February 5, 2014

      I’m with you Old Albion. All departments which are England Only must be renamed, along with the Ministers. And then a parliament and First Minister. Sadly, you cannot trust a Unionist to speak proudly for England and the whole of England. They just cannot bring themselves to do it and are too afraid. They should be ashamed.

    2. Mark
      February 5, 2014

      He may not have direct responsibility for education in other parts of the UK, but it is to be hoped that where he sets a good example, he can influence policy elsewhere for the better. In that way he does have a wider responsibility.

  5. Mike Stallard
    February 5, 2014

    If you go regularly on Labour blogs, as I try to do, then the talk is all about handing out taxpayers’ money to the “hardworking poor”.
    It is all very highly political and the ideals espoused are equality, fairness and re-election. the Tories are bad. So any means to get them out is justified. And this, we can all see, is just a case of politicking.
    Sore losers are never popular – look at that Head of Social Services in Hackney – was it? – who got the sack and then sued. Mr Mitchell shows how to behave when treated really badly by not only a Labour trick but also by his own party.

    1. lifelogic
      February 5, 2014

      Indeed Labour blogs are all about the magic government money tree, more and more (always incompetent) government, higher tax rates (thus raising less in tax), enforced “equality” (totally regardless of merit), mugging the the rich at every opportunity, renewable (dream land) energy and the discredited catastrophic AGW religion/scam.

      Still always a good laugh to read, even if it is a bit depressing about human intelligence levels.

  6. Steve Cox
    February 5, 2014

    Better still, let’s have a root and branch reform of the way government works to separate the executive and legislature and provide professional levels of management in government. This article summarises the problem with our broken system nicely and gives some excellent ideas how to fix and improve things:

  7. Andyvan
    February 5, 2014

    I don’t favour bringing back powers to ministers. I favour nobody having those powers. You mention the mess that the BOW and FSA made, well every quango or government department is the same. Inept, inefficient, expensive and useless. Let people in a free market decide how to live and by what rules. Bureaucrats and politicians are never the right answer to any problem.

    1. John Harrison
      February 5, 2014

      The whole business of Ofsted judging the ‘performance of schools’ is a nonsense. It’s pupils that matter, not schools. The performance and education of each individual young person should depend on that individual’s many and various capabilities, aptitudes, inclinations and ambitions. It is a matter for teachers to decide what form that young person’s development should take. Admittedly the basics – reading, writing and arithmetic for the very young can be taught ‘en masse’ but once these are mastered ‘schools’ become a hindrance to development since they are organised for the benefit of the educational establishment rather than the pupils.

      I would abolish schools after the age of 14 once pupils have passed a School Leaving Certificate, a certificate of competence to deal with the adult world, not of academic prowess. If they fail to pass they remain in schools for young people with learning difficulties. Once they pass, no more school. Instead they go to teachers to learn the things they are good at, will help them earn a decent living, that they enjoy and can see a reason for learning.

      At present, in the words of one perceptive secondary schoolteacher:
      ” Education in this country will never function effectivelyuntil pupils, at least at secondary level, can choose their areas of study and do not spend every day wastefully being forced to learn much of what they do not want to know.”

      For a fuller explanation of how this would work see ‘Wot, No School?’.

  8. Richard1
    February 5, 2014

    The hypocrisy and sense of entitlement of Labour politicians and other leftists is extraordinary. They view the appointment of a leftist to head a quango as the natural order of things. It is also an insight into the mentality of the top of the public sector that Lady Morgan and her political supporters are outraged that she was not automatically reappointed. No thought for the duty of Mr Gove to secure the best person for the taxpayer.

    You are right, these quangos have far too much money and far too much power. It has become clear through this episode that one reason leftist views are so entrenched in public life in the UK, despite a nominally right of centre govt, is because there are so many unelected leftists in positions of influence and power.

    Mr Gove should appoint someone committed to his vision of radical improvement in education in the interests of the people. He should absolutely refuse to nominate by entitlement another member of The Blob.

  9. A.Sedgwick
    February 5, 2014

    It is only when major problems occur that the existence and power of Quangos becomes apparent. I am staggered by the EA’s remit. You are quite right in asserting Ministers should be in charge. The EA should be bon fired and privatised along with all the others Dave has burned off! As regards the admirable Mr.Gove’s ministerial staff problems – down to Dave again really with this dumb coalition. The sooner he ends this Government, which has become a complete shambles, the better.

  10. formula57
    February 5, 2014

    “Why is so much power concentrated in the hands of these quangos, when Ministers maybe should take more control and accept more responsibility for what is going on. “

    Er – call me old-fashioned and naive but I thought the ab initio purpose of quangos was to absolve elected politicians of responsibility. It is quite wrong of course and you are quite right in what you say, especially as relocating back power to ministeries could do much to repair public confidence in the political class.

  11. Brian Tomkinson
    February 5, 2014

    I find it very difficult to believe that Baroness Morgan and Lord Smith were the best qualified candidates for their respective, lucrative quango roles. I am convinced that they, and many others, were given their roles because they are part of the political club and for no other reason. If they hadn’t had a record of party political activity they wouldn’t have been considered. These are just two examples of political cronyism at the taxpayers’ expense. Such cronyism is to be deplored and its (word left out ed) influence exposed.

    1. Richard1
      February 5, 2014

      I suspect one problem is that many more people who have spent their careers in the public sector and who are therefore often, but not necessarily, left-leaning, put their hands up for these positions. In fact what we need in many of these quangos (if the quangos are needed at all) is people with private sector experience of getting best value and service.

      I suggest these positions should be unpaid, and if performed successfully then be rewarded with honours (afterwards not before). Could we for example persuade Michael O’Leary to head whichever quango is responsible for procurement and service in the NHS? I suspect we would save many thousands of lives from improved service, and many billions of pounds if we could. We might regrettably have to accept that there would be a few upset leftists along the way.

  12. Douglas Carter
    February 5, 2014

    …’As we have now read, …’…

    As we have also read that David Laws and Gove were quite happy working together and that this public spat has been directed more for Mr. Clegg’s own manipulations and advantage, than that of actual Government.

    Some observers have commented that it marks the commencement of a clear divergence between the LibDems and the Conservatives in preparation for the sequence of elections on the horizon.

    Some might also say that it serves as a useful misdirection from a recent internal scandal, made inevitably public by internal ineptitude, which has slipped from the headlines without yet being properly resolved? When giving judgement on the motes in the eyes of others, Mr. Clegg will need to be careful that people will feel entitled to consider, with the same levels of indignation, the beam in his own?

  13. Alan Wheatley
    February 5, 2014

    “I favour bringing more powers back from quangos to Ministers.” I agree.

    I am concerned that quangos form far too cosy a relationship with the organisations over which they exercise their responsibilities. I am also concerned that their expertise, both technical and managerial, is insufficient; a possible reason for the cosy relationship so as to minimise the chance of being found wanting.

    In any event, the Minister (with staff) needs to be sufficiently on top of the job so as to ensure the quango(s) for which the Minister has responsibility are fulfilling their role to the necessary standard.

  14. Kenneth
    February 5, 2014

    At the weekend the BBC was an active partner in the campaign about Conservative political appointments.

    However, in all the years that Labour expanded the amount of quangos and their budgets and stuffed them with their own people, the BBC was silent.

    I think the BBC should be asked to explain its obvious, blatant, evidential and quantifiable bias.

  15. acorn
    February 5, 2014

    Usually, politicians like to make sure they have a Quango or two between them and blame for something going wrong at voter level. Command and control of everything from Westminster and Whitehall, makes Ministers particularly vulnerable to attack from national media, and not least from voluble opposition Chairs of Select Committees. People forget that all super Quangos are given birth in legislation, mostly cobbled together from the uninformed whims and fantasies of amateurs.

    You notice this particularly at local “government” level. New diktats would come down from Whitehall and local government officers would spend days trying to decypher the text and discover if the person who wrote it, had ever visited this planet.

    Unitise local government in England, like the other three countries of the UK. Give it the receipts from VAT; Council Tax and Business Rates (circa £160 billion, about what it spends now), eventually moving to a Land Value Tax for the latter two taxes. Sorted! Public initiative ballots at least once a year.

    Shutdown DCLG (has eleven Quangos) and DfE (has nine Quangos) and let local government take over these functions and any bits of the Quangoes that it considers useful.

  16. Gina Dean
    February 5, 2014

    How can someone in charge of a a quango with a very large budget have about another 7 or 8 jobs and be expected to do it properly. No one can keep their eye on so many balls at once. It seems we do not have smaller government just more government under the wire.
    The state is interfering in to many parts of the general public.

    1. Lifelogic
      February 5, 2014

      They seem to think their job is merely to read out the drivel someone puts in front of them at several PR events.

  17. oldtimer
    February 5, 2014

    I agree!

    PS This is a test post as recent (critical) remarks about the performance of the EA, quangos in general and the BBC appear to have been moderated out of existence.

    1. oldtimer
      February 5, 2014

      OT: I draw your attention to todays CityAM article by Mr Farage about the methods EU institutions are using to gain control of the City of London – as he put it, to drive nails into its coffin. It reminded me of the way in which the EU has secured effective control of the activities of the EA, which as recent posts have revealed have been disastrous for those living on the Somerset Levels.

  18. Robert Taggart
    February 5, 2014

    Those immortal words uttered by that now mortal Liebore Luvvie – Clive Dunn – come to mind…
    “They don’t like it up ’em” !
    What is it with Liebore politicos ? – they be the first to call other people names, to cast aspersions upon other people and to indulge in schardenfraude at other peoples expense.
    But, when others dare to do unto them as they do unto others – they cry foul !

    Nice one Govey – now – appoint a Tory to the post and do your homework !

  19. English Pensioner
    February 5, 2014

    I believe that all the “Government Agencies” and Quangos should be brought back under direct Ministerial responsibility and return to being part of the Civil Service. The present arrangement allows Ministers to deny responsibility, claiming that the Agency was operating at “arms length” from government. They don’t cost any less, probably more as they all have boards and chairmen whereas within the civil service they would probably just have a senior civil servant acting under the Minister.
    I saw all this when I was employed by the then DTI in their aviation division. The whole lot was “hived-off” to the new Civil Aviation Authority and the Minister claimed that he had reduced the number of civil servants by about 7000. But as, at the time, the CAA was wholly funded by Government, there was no reduction in costs, indeed there was an increase in staff as the CAA now had a board with all that that implies and the DTI had a liaison team to maintain oversight.

  20. Bert Young
    February 5, 2014

    Michael Gove has been a breath of fresh air to Education and is a good example of what ” leading from the front ” can achieve . Understandably his approach has upset the die-hard ” stuck in the groove ” types who have been coasting along for many years ; Secondary education particularly is in a very sad state and now requires drastic change to realise the potential that exists in the schoolgoers . Ofsted does need to have a leader who is talented and respected in the profession and who is very much in tune with the Minister ; it is their combined energy and enthusiasm in their roles that will bring about improvement and standards . Gove must have the right of choice in his team and suffer the consequences if he fails .

  21. Rodric Breeze
    February 5, 2014

    Mr. Redwood, You say,….. “I favour bringing more powers back from quangos to Ministers.”

    I wholeheartedly agree, provided the Ministers, and their Civil Servants, will be held accountable and responsible.

    I suspect it was for this very reason that Quangos first came into existence.
    To distance the Politician from any blame or fallout.

  22. Roy Grainger
    February 5, 2014

    “It is difficult to believe that there is so much fuss”

    Is there really a fuss ? The BBC and assorted members of the liberal metropolitan elite got excited but I suspect that no-one else in the country could care less. Even Ed M seems to have kept fairly quiet given his parties record in stuffing quangos with supporters. In any event the elite’s agenda in kicking up a fuss mostly to ensure the next head of OFSTED is to their liking too – let’s see.

  23. peter davies
    February 5, 2014

    Indeed – I read somewhere that around 75% of Quango appointees since 1997 have been Labour placemen, it seems they consider it their God given right to occupy these positions – if labour do it, no complaint, if the tories dare do something similar, how dare they?

    Given that statement surely @lifelogic is right that the current govt should be purging these quangos and placing sensible people based on qualifiication and ability rather than political beliefs and who they know.

    The shambles that is called the Environment Agency had shown what to expect when you put a champagne socialist who probably knows nothing about environmental matters (and naive enough to be swayed by various lobby groups) in charge of a large organisation of such importance – in this instance a sensible politician who has a good sense of what needs to be done that could authorise contractors to carry out neccesary work when needed would more than likely be far more effective.

    Whilst we on the Environment Agency it is laughable that the media equates how much is spent as an overall budget being equated to how we are affected by floods when other much bigger countries achieve what is needed with much less.

  24. JimS
    February 5, 2014

    Please get rid of all these ‘Office of Regulation’ Quangos.

    There sole purpose appears to be to isolate the appropriate minister from any responsibility. They most certainly do not serve the public interest.

  25. Terry
    February 5, 2014

    A prime example of the socialist policy of, “Do as we say and not as we do”.

    Why don’t they consider it grotesque hypocrisy for Labour Shadow Ministers to wish to deny our children of a decent Private education, but they send their own offspring to such schools? They would cry “I’ve done nothing wrong” and arrogantly put themselves in a class above us of the back streets. All despite wishing a classless society upon us.
    Champions of hypocrisy are these people and another reason why I despise so-called ‘socialism’, which as they have already proven, many times over, is about as anti-social as you can get.

  26. Antisthenes
    February 5, 2014

    When you think politics cannot descend any lower into the rank depths of obfuscation, deceit and hypocrisy along come the left to prove you wrong. This and many other examples of Labour’s and other assorted lefty loons poisonous fact distorting utterances colourfully called spin or legitimate holding the government to account shows how low the left are prepared to go to gain power. In 2015 the left will no doubt be in government and have power over us and if this is example of what they will do to gain it then what will they do to us when they have it. The past tells us what they will do is carry on where they left off the last times they were in government and that is to continues to destroy the UK economy and society. Labours present crop of (wrong headed people ed) many of which are Marxist (or left wing ed) inspired will I believe surpass themselves this time and finish the job of impoverishing the people of the UK which they started all those decades ago.

  27. stred
    February 5, 2014

    Sorry to go off subject but the Energy Saving Trust has revised advice on insulation savings, more in line with what I have been posting and sometimes not accepted.

    They give savings for wall insulation, the most urgent and particularly necessary for older properties with solid walls, as-

    Semi detached £270 pa Terraced £180
    Cost External £25000 to £9000
    Internal £15000 to £4500
    This gives returns of around 2% to 1% for external and 4% to 1.8% for internal. Currently the Green Deal is charging 7% on a 20 year deal.
    They warn that building regulations will have to be followed, with fees. The current standard is 0.3 U value. This is to be increased soon.

    They advise that condensation is likely to be prevented if external insulation is used. In fact both systems are equally likely to cause condensation unless a vapour barrier is put in the right place. They do not point out that internal insulation allows the house to warm up quickly, allowing the householder to turn the heating down when out. The turning down of heating is key advice in the DECC book Sustainable Energy.

    The thickness of internal insulation is advised as 60-100mm (4″) of solid board. In fact the thinnest total thickness advised by Building Control is about 4″. Obviously as house are already too small the thickness needs to be kept to a minimum. External insulation is often 5″ or more and impossible in narrow streets or with houses with no front garden.

    It is possible to install a low emission cavity on battens with plasterboard giving a U value of 0.5 for under £1500 giving a return of 10%. This could be improved later by addition of an extra layer. The improvement is fourfold over a solid brick wall. But to use such a system has been made illegal since 2010. It has to be asked whether anyone who can do sums has any influence in DECC.

    Perhaps you could raise this as a subject, If you wish to see a letter of confirmation of U values and construction details I could email them.

    1. James Strachan
      February 5, 2014

      Or you could put on a sweater – available for £30 from any good clothing shop.

    2. Richard
      February 5, 2014


      Continuing on your topic of reducing heating energy usage :

      What is your view please on the use of Far Infra Red heating ?

      1. stred
        February 6, 2014

        There are a few specialist firms who claim that their electric radiators are more economical than conventional gas heating. As the cost per unit of energy of electricity is about 3x that of gas, it is difficult to see how this works. They claim that infra red heating allow the room temperature to be 4 deg C lower and this reduces bills. But a conventional radiator also radiates infra red. And an electrical radiator also will convect some heat. In counties where gas is expensive and electricity cheap, the situation may be different.

        Another odd claim and often adopted in TV featured design programmes is that underfloor heating is better. Here the opposite happens, with low level heat being supposedly more comfortable. But it has to be left on in order to warm the floor. I prefer conventional gas fired radiators which are more controllable, less expensive to buy, and use heat which is less expensive too.

        If you live in a property with solid brick partitions and concrete floor, it can take 2 days to warm the structure. If you also have solid walls and put insulation on the outside or have cavity insulation and brick inner wall, it can take even longer.

    3. alan jutson
      February 5, 2014


      I agree with many of your comments with regard to insulation and the difference between theory and practice.

      The theorists are only interested in performance on a test piece, they never ever look at the practical problems of it fitting on site.

      Roof overhang/eaves depth on many properties is less than the thickness of the insulation they suggest is needed, thus you may need to extend the roof before you fit external insulation.
      Soil vent pipes may need relocating etc etc.

      None of this extra work is included in their costs.

      They also say nothing about the external appearance, which often requires to be rendered, then painted, which results in necessary manitainance every few years which you did not need with a brick finish.

      Whilst I am all for making buildings as efficient as possible, in some cases it simply is not practical to do so, but the regulations say all or nothing, doing just as much as is sensibly possible is not allowed.

      1. stred
        February 6, 2014

        Someone in our area decided to repair the render of his end of terrace. Building Control found out and he had to put thick insulation behind the render, extend his roof and put new flashings on the chimney. Cost about £15k for what started as a £2k job.

  28. forthurst
    February 5, 2014

    Gove wants state schools to teach Latin and Greek and to take the Common Entrance Exam. Latin has not been a compulsory subject for entrance to Oxbridge for some time. Meanwhile, in 2012, there were 82,489 applications for 7,805 Medical School places. Are there any other courses where such disparity exists? The reason why we have to import large numbers of ‘doctors’ from abroad in order to make up for a deliberately engineered shortfall needs examining. As to the CE exam, there is no common system of marking; each school marks according to its own standards. Who would mark the state school exams and how would common standards be enforced?

    If Gove really wants to match private schools, he should close down the Dept for Education and local authority involvement beyond the fabric and close down the university departments of education, thereby being able to focus resources exclusively on teachers who have specific subject knowledge and to employ suitable graduates directly without their first having to be indoctrinated by Marxist Educationalists. Sally Morgan has an MA in Education from the Institute of Education. What does that mean? As things stand, JR with his qualifications, could stand in front of a class of graduates or undergraduates, but he is not qualified to stand in front of a class of state school children. How ridiculous.

    There was a time when the state sector did Latin and Greek rather well as the career of Enoch Powell would attest. Gove has a long journey to unravel the deliberate sabotage of our education system by Marxists over so many years, teaching defective reading and arithmetical methods, teaching toddlers ‘gender’, alternative lifestyles, multiculturalism, calling the police when an English (only) child commits a thoughtcrime etc.

    1. Qubus
      February 6, 2014

      Quite right; there is a deliberately limited number of students accepted on medical degree courses. This is due to the various medical colleges, in whose interest it is to maintain a strong demand for doctors. If it were wished, it could easily be arranged that there were a steady increase of say 10% per annum in the number of medical students entering our universities. It is not as though medicine is a particularly difficult and academic subject: one needs a reasonable memory and a reasonable capacity for hard work. When I was at grammar school many years ago, it was the not-very-bright pupils who went on to study medicine, because, very often, they couldn’t cope with A level Mathematics and so did Biology instead. I remember my GP saying to me, all those years ago, his daughter had just obtained a first in Maths at Cambridge: there is more abstract thought in O level Maths that in the whole of a first degree in medicine.
      The fact of the matter is that one needs good grades to be accepted on a medical course, because of the competition, but they are not needed to complete it successfully.

      Reply In my experience medicine recruits able and hard working people in the main, and the entry requirements in terms of A level grades is usually high.

      1. Qubus
        February 7, 2014

        But that doesn’t contradict anything that I have written.

        1. Lifelogic
          February 8, 2014

          Indeed not being good with your hands,coordination and having good eyesight are rather useful skills for doctors – often ones they lack.

          10 to 1 applications is not as high as it seems as they usually apply to five(?) medical schools – so it is, in effect, only 2 applicants for each place going.

  29. Alte Fritz
    February 5, 2014

    One reason I paid out a king’s ransom for education was to keep my child free of experiments in social engineering. It looks as if people who live in Somerset are subjects of environmental engineering as the EA wants to return land to nature. Is life a laboratory for those in place to conduct experiments on the rest of us?

    1. yulwaymartyn
      February 5, 2014

      Alte Fritz: The answer is yes. And then we die. Welcome to Britain.

  30. Credible
    February 5, 2014

    You say, “Or look at the Environment Agency’s decision to allow floods in large parts of the country.”

    What do you mean by ‘allow’? This is a 1 in 100+ year event. Now if you like you could provide funding to make us resilient to flood events with that return period (everywhere in the UK not just Somerset). But if you did, no doubt, people on here would be moaning and groaning about such a huge waste of public money. Of course, if there is a chance these sorts of events might become more common, it would be a different matter, then it might be worth the expenditure. But since you don’t believe that, I can’t really see what your argument is.

    “I favour bringing more powers back from quangos to Ministers.”

    Big government?

  31. uanime5
    February 5, 2014

    It is difficult to believe that there is so much fuss over Mr Gove’s decision not to reappoint a Labour peeress to a Quango on expiry of her contract. It is even more bizarre to complain that he is trying to politicise these appointments, when the outgoing person is a Labour politician.

    Well the coalition did appoint her 3 years ago so it seems odd that they’re removing her despite not being able to fault her work.

    Should a known Conservative who is qualified now be banned from a quango appointment because he or she is a Conservative?

    Well if they’re a major donor to the Conservative party and have financially benefited from free schools then they probably shouldn’t be appointed to a quango which can force state schools to become free schools. Especially using a policy that isn’t transparent and doesn’t consider other candidates.

    Why is so much power concentrated in the hands of these quangos, when Ministers maybe should take more control and accept more responsibility for what is going on.

    Because minister want someone else they can blame when things go wrong. For example Owen Patterson can avoid being blamed for the flooding because he can hide behind the EA, even though his policies lead to this quango being less able to prevent flooding.

    Just look at the mess the independent Bank of England and the FSA made of banking regulation, bringing on the worse crash in more than century.

    The politicians at the time weren’t much better as they either agreed with the FSA or demanded even more lax regulations.

    Or look at the Environment Agency’s decision to allow floods in large parts of the country.

    Technically they didn’t decide to flood parts of the country as they couldn’t prevent parts of it being flooded. It’s more accurate to say that they decided which parts would be flooded.

    The global warming theory supporters would not regard an appointee to the job of Environment Agency Head as properly qualified if they did not believe in global warming theory .

    They also don’t appreciate the minister for the DECC being a global warming denier.

    Better still let’s find more powers quangos have which we could return to people and businesses, leaving them freer to do as they see fit.

    Given that self-regulation tends not to work, as shown by the media industry, I prefer quangos.

    In other news it seems that success rate of 75-90% of ATOS appeals being overturned is too high for the DWP so they’ve decided to punish the sick and disabled by denying them their benefits while appeals are ongoing. John can you explain why the sick and disabled are being punished for mistakes being made by the DWP?

    1. Hope
      February 5, 2014

      Once more, socialist drivel without substance. Blah blah blah…….

    2. yulwaymartyn
      February 5, 2014

      Also get rid of the Ann McIntosh’s of this world and replace with old Etonians. They know best.

    3. Edward2
      February 5, 2014

      “Technically they didn’t decide to flood parts of the country as they couldn’t prevent parts of it being flooded. It’s more accurate to say that they decided which parts would be flooded”

      I’m sure your words will come as great comfort to those who have been affected by the floods Uni.
      Nice for them to know its a “technicality”
      Just a bit of a shame they didn’t bother to tell those living in areas “they decided….would be flooded”

  32. Credible
    February 5, 2014

    I also don’t share the fuss about who Mr Gove appoints. I just don’t want Mr Gove as education secretary. He has no qualifications to do the job. He says that positions should be refreshed, well he’s been in the job a while.
    He says he is going to make state schools like private schools. Just how is he going to do that? Private school children typically have classes half the size, 3 times as much money per pupil, no special needs or disruptive children and a large percentage of parents who care about education. Where is all the money going to come from to re-balance all of that assuming it was possible. It take more than longer hours. Then of course, if the private school advantage was removed, how would the parents who send their kids to private school react. The whole point is to pay to get an advantage over everyone else. I don’t think a fair playing field would go down very well. After all, we might move towards a meritocracy and some of the clever plebs might get the privileged kids jobs.

    1. yulwaymartyn
      February 5, 2014

      Why can’t Mr Gove make private schools more like state schools?

      He could at a stroke cut the fees from £20,000 plus per annum and reduce it to around £6,500 per annum to match the expenditure per pupil at a state comprehensive. Then there would be a level playing field and a private school and a state school would be indistinguishable as Mr Gove wants; apart from, of course, the number of playing fields.

      We could also remove the politics of envy and all the other cliches that surround this subject. Schools could select by area only and not on income.

      1. Edward2
        February 7, 2014

        I dont know where you get £20, 000 for private schools and £6500 for state schools from.
        Local excellent private schools are approximately £9000 per annum.
        If you did a proper cost of state schools I reckon there isn’t much difference.
        The £20, 000 would be top private boarding schools.
        Then compare outcomes…

  33. Iain Gill
    February 5, 2014

    They should stop segregating children by religion in schools, we need to integrate our children not segregate them.

    We should stop rewarding those parents who are prepared to lie about their religion, and penalising those parents telling the truth about their religious views. Indeed we should stop religious discrimination in hiring of teachers. Why are state church schools allowed to discriminate when the fee paying schools run by the same church do not? discrimination is only good for the poor children going to state schools is it?

    Nobody asked my religion when asking me to pay tax, there is no way I should be getting letters asking for a priests signature before my child is considered worthy of a decent school.

    We should stop the state allocating schools, in its traditional rationing and corrupt way.

    We should hand the buying power over to the parents and allow consumer buying decisions to force change in the school sector the same as consumer pressure forces change on all other consumer fronting businesses. Top down command and control by Gove or anyone else is never going to make the countless ongoing optimisations giving the consumers buying power can.

    As for ofsted and the like the sink schools are still alive and well, I know some quite well, the fact that nothing the political class do or say ever affects them is sad in the extreme.

    1. yulwaymartyn
      February 6, 2014

      I agree with much of what you say. The problem I think is that the parents sometimes promulgate the problem. Those who have never been at a church for 30 years suddenly turning up every Sunday etc. As a parent myself I have to say I really don’t like them involved in the school process. ! Many parents don’t turn up for anything and the other half are sometimes so dim that they just repeat their experiences from school twenty/thirty years ago. I think it is glib politics to say that the parents should have choice. It sounds good and who could possibly disagree etc but in reality it is meaningless.

      1. Iain Gill
        February 7, 2014

        Parents having buying power would transform the schools system, it is NOT glib politics

  34. Richard
    February 5, 2014

    Mr. Redwood asks :

    “Why is so much power concentrated in the hands of these quangos, when Ministers maybe should take more control and accept more responsibility for what is going on (?) There is no evidence that so called independent bodies are better at judging matters than elected Ministers acting on good professional advice.”

    It is because the use of quangos slowly but surely enables the EU to put power into the hands of unelected placemen. This is aided and abetted by our LibLabCon politicians.

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