Independent bodies are often wrong, damaging and expensive

It is commonplace in the modern UK political world for the politicians to share the general view of them as unsuited to making important long term decisions. So often the UK establishment in alliance with the front benches of the two main parties agrees that a matter is “too important” for politics, should be taken out of politics, and given to some all wise and expensive independent quango.

This is one of the more absurd ideas. In practice when one of these quangos gets it wrong and singularly fails to do its job, the cry goes up for the politicians to change it or its policies. It still usually suits all involved to blame the politicians rather than the wise independent body set up to the do the job. That body either resorts to the defence of inadequate resources, or decides to lose a senior person or two so the quango can self perpetuate with good jobs for all the rest involved. These quangos normally see their role as enforcing and following the endless laws from Brussels to avoid any controversy with their EU masters.

It is difficult to think of one of these bodies that has done a good job. The mother of them all, the Bank of England, presided over a spectacular failure of banking supervision and monetary policy in the period 2006-10 and has spent  recent years blaming the commercial banks for what was at root a catastrophic failure of central banking, allowing too much credit and excess in the commercial sector. Doing better than the Bank would not have been difficult. I and others warned on the way up that credit was too loose – the main opposition parties warned the same. I then warned that too severe action to control the banks in 2007-8 would bring on a  banking crash, which they duly did. Today the Bank of England shows a singular lack of touch over the future direction of interest rates, regularly changing its mind about the conditions for an increase. It seems happy to preside over a bond market artificially inflated by excess purchases by itself.

The Environment Agency has clearly failed to put in sufficient flood protection, preferring to spend its substantial grant in aid on other priorities in the main. The issue with the EA is one of analysis and recommendations on how to tackle excess water. I have had  arguments with them over possible flood relief schemes for my areas which they simply refuse to recommend.

Network Rail has shown how little railway you can get for the huge sums of money tipped into it. They have been unable to provide extra rail capacity to time and to  budget. They are fixated by the need to change the traction system from diesel to electric instead of the dealing with the basic need to provide more track to allow more trains to pass. They like spending large sums on expensive financial derivatives, and have for some unknown reason added substantial foreign and index linked debt to the nation’s balance sheet.  Outside London they seem unable to harness the potential of their substantial property asset base.

By all means write in with any examples of quangos that do the job they are meant to do well, or with other examples to prove my point. In a democracy there is no such thing as an independent government body. The public expect their politicians to monitor, control and defend the public bodies they  set up, and to appoint people to lead them who can do a good job. As the Infrastructure Body set up to take big schemes out of politics has found, the very first challenge of Heathrow turns out to be a big political decision which only the politicians can take.


  1. Margaret
    December 31, 2015

    There is indeed no such thing as an independent body. They are hired because they suit the established purpose ;whatever that is. Evidence from one side will be edited and re edited until it sounds right and looks ‘professional’ in comparison to primary evidence from the other source extracted under duress with poorly functioning equipment ( eg as in predictive text when out of context). Independent bodies can only look at written evidence whereas the politicians/ staff/ customer experiences problems with many omissions, as not everything is written down.

    Many staff to cover themselves fabricate events along the way just in case they are taken to court , for example equipment was in good working condition , a job was completed or the customer was satisfied, when this is not the case , but it was written down.

    Independent bodies go with the flow of the written jibberish and cause too many problems,

  2. oldtimer
    December 31, 2015

    You make a fundamental point about the way we are governed and controlled today. I would only add that those same politicians ensure and reinforce this approach by passing laws and regukations to enshrine and embed their pet projects and beliefs in the system, making them extremely difficult to remove or amend. They are then reinforced by the creation of quangos with bureaucracies seemingly resistant to external control. EU directives are a convenient, perhaps even an essential, crutch to put them in place. It is how we are all controlled today – control being the operative word.

  3. Mike Stallard
    December 31, 2015

    Mr Redwood, I am just a member of the Great British Public who lives in a land which is below sea level.
    When I saw that complacent and well heeled man striding along the street having just come back to this country from abroad when he should, on his salary have been in the right pace at the right time, I got really angry. When I was teaching, I never thought of leaving my school especially at critical times. I bet you yourself do exactly the same with your constituency.
    I could easily have used my position to make money and gain influence. I did not. And, do you know what, I do not think you are milking your constituency either.
    A new quango has been set up to manage our river…
    Network rail? If they would just connect, in accordance with our excellent MP’s advice (Steve Barclay well recommended!), join up Wisbech with the rest of the system, then my house would shoot up in value! But – hey – why should they bother?
    You didn’t mention the Housing agencies for people who cannot afford it. Didn’t I hear somewhere that they simply are not building houses very much?
    Qangos are not popular, but somehow for all the promises, they are still with us. Another case of Parliament handing its (our) powers away to unelected, unaccountable people.

  4. Mark B
    December 31, 2015

    Good morning.

    The creation of these bodies I argue was so that MP’s could no longer themselves be held to account and would not resign because they themselves are worse than useless.

    Creating an extra layer of government creates an extra layer of cost. Or did MP’s really think that these people would do it all for free ?

    The best way to do these things, is to devolve power to the lowest common denominator. ie The people. If MP’s cannot make the necessary decisions, let the people do it.

    We always seem to create ever larger bureaucracy but never less. eg We create Scottish, Welsh and NI parliaments, but never get rid of the UK Office for each ! NB There is no equivalent English office or Parliament. As the Scots have now more powers and retains Scottish MP’s in a UK parliament, is it now times to close the Scottish Office down ? If not, why not ?

    I think it is high time that every Quango, Civil Servant, and Ministerial Office was asked what value to the taxpayer they are.

    1. Leslie Singleton
      December 31, 2015

      It took me time (seriously) to grasp that the EA has 10,600 staff. How utterly preposterous I thought but then I realised that this is just the EA in the UK but what about the God alone knows how many high paid and pensioned jobsworths there must be in those big air-conditioned palatial offices in Brussels and elsewhere lording it over the individual country EA’s? To think that we pay through the nose for that too. Un-bloody-believable is what I say. We simply must get out from under the EU.

  5. Richard1
    December 31, 2015

    Absolutely, we elect politicians to implement the policies we want and we want to be able to get rid of them if they don’t. So handing power to quangos is an abdication of responsibility and a negation of democracy. we want fewer not more such expensive quangos. The Liberal MP Norman Lamb wants some supposedly non political quango to take a no holds barred look at the NHS. No doubt however it wouldn’t be able to look at fundamental political questions such as whether a mixed system of health service provision as exists almost everywhere else in the world might work better then the state monopoly we have. Ministers need to be accountable to Parliament for policies in all the areas you mention and at elections electors get a chance to vote in MPs who will ensure we get the policies we want.

  6. Lifelogic
    December 31, 2015

    You make exactly the right points. Only the politicians who are elected to represent the voters have any interest in ensuring that the QUANGO does anything in the interests of the public at all. That is why so few do. Even this electoral control mechanism is hopelessly weak as we have seen again and again.

    The way the banks were allowed to gear up to 50 times their capital so that a tiny proportion of their loans going bad would wipe them out was absurd and an outrageous failure of regulators. On top of this we had essentially fictitious accounts and audits, dubious valuations of complex assets and credit ratings done by companies in the pay of those being rated. But no one I think paid any price for this failure of government at all did they? The audit/accounting companies too failed hugely the problem there again being that the are appointed by the companies and banks themselves so have a conflict of interests.

    When indeed will we ever get a Heathrow Gatwick decision we need a runway at each very urgently now? Why is Cameron’s mate, the dopey green Zak being allowed to delay this project at huge cost to the nation?

    1. Lifelogic
      December 31, 2015

      Good to see that there is to be a legal challenge against Osborne’s bonkers attacks on landlord interest deductions and thus tenants. It is patently absurd to tax people already making losses and double tax the interest they pay in this way. Once on them and once on the bank.

      It will decrease supply of properties and put up rents hugely. What has Osborne got against rental tenants with this and the 3% stamp duty increase? Tax should clearly be fiscally neutral between buying and renting. Availability of rental properties is vital for job mobility and the economy.

    2. Lifelogic
      December 31, 2015

      HMRC is the arm of government that seems to me to have deteriorated most in my direct experience. It used to be quite efficient and helpful twenty years back as I recall. Yet now they cannot even answer more that half the phone calls from tax payers. Worse still you hold for ages paying for the call they get told to get lost and it hangs up. Not even the chance to leave a message.

      Part of the problem is the absurd complexity of the tax system augmented hugely by the foolish Osborne. But much of it is just poor organisation & general incompetence at HMRC. The HMRC boss, on a reported £275K package, has been made a dame for this performance. What is the value of all these tax payers time they waste endlessly?

      1. alan jutson
        January 1, 2016


        Agree, a System which is far too complex.

        Just look at the latest IHT modifications for a recent example.

        As for the lady in charge, not worth a Dime, far less a Dame.

        Another reward for consistent failure.

      2. stred
        January 1, 2016

        The way to the HOL is failure. Our landlord’s society has informed us that landords and other businesses will have to make tax returns 4 times pa instead of once if profit is over 10k. Whether this is after interest off profit is unknown. This must be the most anti-business government ever. Of course, for CGT, landords are not allowed as businesses.

  7. Antisthenes
    December 31, 2015

    How good or bad a quango or any government department and public sector organisation is is dependent on the qualities of the people in charge and the system that has been designed for all to work by. Of course the private sector works in the same way. However the difference in performance is considerable the private sector is much more efficient and on the whole provides much better value for consumers(public).

    The public sector is all what the private sector is not it is inefficient, has poor productivity and is wasteful. The reason being the public sector does not and cannot have the same checks and balances and accountability enjoyed by the private sector that makes it so much better at what it does. Improvements in the public sector are possible and do happen but there is no consistency and it is always done reluctantly and slowly . Heads of quangos and governments change sometimes bringing improvements and sometimes not and sometimes making things worse.

    So the moral is as it is not possible for the public sector to ever be efficient or cost effective to an acceptable level then government and the public sector should not being doing very much and they certainly should not be making our decisions for us as they do so often.

    The role of government is not as much as the left would have us believe to centrally control everything and take away our freedom of choice. It is to keep us safe from foreign threats with an adequate military defence and at home ensuring that we treat each other humanly and honestly using adequate but not excessive policing agencies(even a quango here and there but no where to the scale we do now), sensible laws and regulations .

    1. Lifelogic
      December 31, 2015

      No the private sector does not in the main work in the same way at all.

      The state sector usually has a virtual monopoly and they are spending other people’s money supposedly to benefit the taxpayer with public services. In essence however they care not what they spend nor what value they get.

      All the bosses really want is a nice office, an easy job, good pay, security and a good pension. They cannot really fail and go out of business & even if the government closes them down they get good pay off’s and pensions or are redeployed to some other department. They are not really concerned if they employ the best people or competitive salaries why should they be it is not their money after all nor they who benefit from the public “service” they claim to provide.

      In the private sector you have no monopoly and you have to compete for customers or die. This by providing what they are willing to pay for. The owner of the business is also spending his own money and so is very careful with it and careful how it is invested, careful whom they employ. Not the same in the slightest completely different.

      1. Lifelogic
        December 31, 2015

        The state sector also quite like to have some “expert” consultants and subcontractors to blame when it all goes badly as it usually does.

      2. Lifelogic
        December 31, 2015

        Look at the NHS as a good example of the huge difference. The patients of the NHS have already paid through taxes. Most have no choice but to use the NHS as and when the NHS feel like it. The patients are thus often treated as a nuisance by the NHS to be deterred, delayed and poorly treated at every turn in the hope they go away. Not that are not a lot of well meaning staff within the NHS but that is the way the systems works.

        In private medicine they are paying customers. They pay the staff and hospital overheads, they are to be attracted and treated properly at times that suit them so as to encourage recommendations, returns, good reports and thus the next patient.

  8. nigel
    December 31, 2015

    Mr Cameron promised us a “bonfire of the quangos”. We are still waiting.

    1. Tad Davison
      December 31, 2015

      You beat me to it Nigel!

      That we are still waiting 5 1/2 years on, amounts to yet another spectacular failure on the part of the politicians to get a grip and fulfil their promise. This is cynical. They treat the electorate as mere bulls*** fodder and think we won’t notice. Regrettably, too many people either don’t, or are prepared to keep letting the culprits get away with it time and time again. And then they wonder why so many of the rest of us feel so disaffected and let down by ineffective government.


    2. Lifelogic
      December 31, 2015

      Well Cameron, as we know, promises all sorts of “cast iron” and “no if no buts” things. Promises on things like the European Court of H R, in his Bloomberg speech on his joke “renegotiation”, on treaty referendums (apparently no longer a treaty once ratified), on reducing “migration” in the 10’s of thousands, on his priority in three letters N H S and on Heathrow.

      He is, after all, “at heart a low tax Conservative”. Alas one who keeps increasing tax rates, while still running a huge deficit and wasting money hand over fist on green crap, HS2 and endless other pointless and damaging dross …….. The promises are all forgotten as the sound of his voice saying them dies away. He is after all a career politician.

      1. Lifelogic
        December 31, 2015

        Were we not promised an MP recall system too?

        1. Leslie Singleton
          December 31, 2015

          There is no doubt that talk’s cheap when it comes to Cameron

  9. Ex-expat Colin
    December 31, 2015


    Ed Davey, the former Lib Dem energy and climate change secretary, is given a knighthood for ‘political and public service’.

    The service given is about destruction of UK industry and transfer of money to the very rich via energy bills. Clearly the Queen is not on message…thats the one about protecting the people.

    Will be waiting for Sir Tim next…NOT!

    1. A different Simon
      December 31, 2015

      The honours list gives a very good indication of what the three main parties hold in high regard .

      A very different message was sent out to anyone thinking about a career in engineering , I.T. , hard sciences or industry :- Wasteminster and Whitehall do not respect what you do and considers you a commodity .

      This must be the most out of touch govt ever .

      Rotten to the core .

    2. Lifelogic
      December 31, 2015

      It is hard to thing of anyone who has caused more damage to the economy than Ed Davey and his anti-scientific, bogus green religion.

      Doubtless Chris Huhne would have had a gong too, but for his local criminal and ex-wifely difficulties.
      The Libdims like the BBC and indeed Cameron are just wrong, wrong wrong on every issue (other than civil liberties occasionally). Do they have no grasp at all of engineering. science and human nature? Does no one sensible at the the Energy Department ever explain energy engineering and economics to them?

      1. Lifelogic
        December 31, 2015

        I still find it hard to belief that even Huhne and Davey really belief in the catastrophic, warming religion and the daft PV and wind non solutions, but perhaps (as two Oxford PPE grads) they really do. A shame they did not read Engineering at Cambridge but I do not suppose they were rational or numerate enough.

        1. Iain gill
          December 31, 2015

          It’s like the equality thing, people claim not to be racists but happily slag off those with working class accents, those who live(d) on council estates, those who went to state schools. And don’t even hide it. As many of our cabinet demonstrate.

          1. Lifelogic
            January 1, 2016

            Indeed it is it seems to be perfectly acceptable to slag off men and white working class in general but not any other groups.

        2. alan jutson
          January 1, 2016


          Probably more difficult to pass an engineering exam, than PPE I would suggest.

          Probably more difficult to rise to the top in engineering than finding a friend already in politics who can give you a helping hand with a safe seat.

          To set up and run your own engineering company costs a fortune, to work as a SPAD for an MP, no investment required.

  10. Excalibur
    December 31, 2015

    Another one to your point – the NHS, obviously

    1. Excalibur
      January 1, 2016

      Point taken, but not posted by ‘Excalibur’. I have not posted for several weeks, being content to read the more pertinent views of others.

  11. agricola
    December 31, 2015

    I am not entirely sure I agree with your interpretation of quangos. Continuity in certain areas is no bad thing, but in the case of the EA having two ultimate political masters, one in the EU and one in the UK, gives them an almost impossible tightrope to walk. We all know that the CEO of the EA spent his Christmas in Barbados, and why not, he does not have a crystal ball. I would ask who is the Minister for the Environment. He seems to have had an easy ride while the CEO/EA takes all the flack. Ultimately I blame UK politicians for allowing the EU and its’ quack green policies to override common sense.

    You ask for praise of quangos and I am not sure that those I will praise can be fairly described as one. They certainly do a job that few politicians since Lord Tebbit are qualified to comment on. The CAA ( Civil Aviation Authority ), known in the trade as the committee against aviation, handled my conversion from a British Glider Pilots Licence to an EASA-Sailplane Pilots Licence with speed and efficiency, all be it at a cost. The process involved my air medical examiner in Spain, the Spanish equivalent of the CAA , the CFI of a UK aero club, the chairman of a UK gliding club, the British Gliding Association and finally the CAA pulling it all together. All done and dusted in a month. All credit to the lot of them and the CAA for orchestrating it.

    You mention the future of Heathrow. The decision will be implemented by various quangos, but in the unbelievable period of dither we wait for a politician to stand up and make it. It should be Cameron, but he only talks the talk so yet more dither.

    1. Lifelogic
      December 31, 2015

      Well he has lumbered himself with Zak Goldsmith and his “no if no buts” Heathrow promise. Cameron is alas rather poor at choosing people to be A list MPs, ministers advisers, chairmen/women of the Tory party, or for honour or elevation.

      I was just listening to a recording of Steve Hilton for example. What a lot of daft, half baked, lefty ideas he seems to have.

  12. Dame Rita Webb
    December 31, 2015

    The FCA (as were all of its predecessor regulators) needs a good looking over. One of its primary aims is to protect the retail investor, however the rip offs just keep on coming. PPI, “identity theft” insurance, packaged bank accounts etc. Its does dole out multi-million pound fines, which is pretty pointless if the bank concerned is being propped up by the taxpayer. However the only people who suffer are the shareholders. The miscreants go on personally unscathed and are free to conduct their careers with a big fat bonus to look forward to at the end of the year.

  13. alan jutson
    December 31, 2015

    Nothing wrong with asking for advice, if those you asking are proven experts in their field, with a record of long term success.

    The problem appears to rest with politicians who can never seem to make up their mind on anything, and rely upon advice from those who have no proven knowledge or experience on the subject in question, but who appear on many occasions to be just personal contacts.

    This is then compounded by the same politicians trying to cover their backsides by putting those same unsuitable people in charge of departments and Quango’s, simply to distance themselves from the flack of failure.

    Thus the problem is with politicians who have no knowledge of their remit or even anything associated with that remit.

    The Prime Minister is the person who chooses their team of Ministers, so ultimately it is they who are responsible for failure or success.

    Our present Prime Minister has a rather poor record of choosing suitable people, even as members of his personal team, let alone the ability of others who are at more than arms length away.

    Just like with a good/poor school, it is the ability and drive of the Headmaster who is key.

    So it is with Government, the Prime Minister is responsible.

    1. Lifelogic
      December 31, 2015

      Indeed as you say.

      Nothing wrong with asking for advice, if those you asking are proven experts in their field, with a record of long term success.

      But they must be honest and not just telling those instructing them what they wish to hear, nor looking for endless future ongoing consultancy business. But those managing should be experts not political appointees (or friends of friends) as is so very common.

  14. bigneil
    December 31, 2015

    On the train point – not a quango I admit – trains reported as unable to run over xmas due to “not enough drivers”. Reported as ” we rely on them working their rest days” – -First – why have they got to rely on people working rest days – which then cease to be their rest days, and second – how many unemployed people here – and more coming in by the day to sign and claim. Do the drivers HAVE to work their rest days just to get a wage to live on? Is it a union thing? And why do they need more trains – Every one I see on the main line near me is virtually empty.

  15. alexmews
    December 31, 2015

    If it wasn’t so wet it would be a good time to start a bonfire.

  16. John S
    December 31, 2015

    Don’t let us forget that pup the FSA set up by Gordon Brown which was more culpable in causing the banking crash than the BOE. Paul Moore, Head of Regulation at HBOS, warned before the crash that the bank had an unsustainable business model. He was brutally sacked in 2005 for speaking out by CE James Crosby, who unbelievably became No. 2 at the FSA and given a knighthood.

    1. Lifelogic
      December 31, 2015

      Exactly. Good book by him too

      Crash Bank Wallop’ by Paul Moore

    2. Lifelogic
      January 1, 2016

      The BOE should also have been aware of the dangers of banks geared at 50 times their equity and their dubious accounting, and they could have warned and prevented the disaster.

  17. willH
    December 31, 2015

    Wish the BBC and the rest of the MSM would take notice of the misuse of our money you bring to our attention, if we got to know more of what goes on , taxpayers money might be treated with more respect .

  18. A different Simon
    December 31, 2015

    Follow the money : don’t overlook the patronage element .

    Example ; the BBC is funded by the taxpayer and provides excessively remunerated jobs for primarily boys and girls who went to public schools .
    They advertise in the Guardian newspaper to keep that afloat and promote leftist causes .

    Quangos do much the same and invoice each other for writing proforma reports . They are overstaffed with fifth columnist leftists and by their patronage help fund fake charities and leftist NGO’s .

    These vehicles are incompatible with a parliamentary democracy because they decide policy or implement EU policy so that it never gets debated in parliament .

  19. Bert Young
    December 31, 2015

    I agree that Quangos are , generally ,a waste of time and money . There are too many of them and they are improperly supervised . One of the problems is the time scale of Governments ; they are elected for 5 years when many problems and initiatives require a time span of much more than this . One of the solutions would be only electing for a third of the House at a time – thereby extending supervision and control to 15 years ; another solution would be to put Quangos into private ownership .

    As things stand Quangos are a mess and should definitely be abolished . The Public purse would be better off without them and the multi-directional forces that influence them would no longer exist .

  20. Atlas
    December 31, 2015

    Quote: ” They are fixated by the need to change the traction system from diesel to electric instead of the dealing with the basic need to provide more track to allow more trains to pass.”

    This is true. I wonder if it a consequence of an EU / Cameron desire to run everything off an (unreliable) green electricity system? This, we note, does not have the capacity for the present job – let alone this new one.

    1. forthurst
      December 31, 2015

      Don’t forget there is backup for unreliable green stuff: stationary diesel generators.

      1. Lifelogic
        December 31, 2015

        Surprising they did not go for trains with sails or giant wind turbines and covered in PV cells – the greens are daft enough after all.

        1. Lifelogic
          January 1, 2016

          Still they do have poo gas busses inBristol.

  21. Vanessa
    December 31, 2015

    You cannot set up a quango and then walk away and not take responsibility for the decisions it makes. Surely, if you set something up you are fundamentally responsible for how it is run.
    The Bank of England is stuck between a rock and a hard place. The EU rules forbid it from helping failing banks (which it used to do in private). Politicians give it “independence” but then make ludicrous laws which hamstring it as they know nothing about running a Bank.
    The Environment Agency is similarly stuck with ludicrous EU rules. Farmers etc. cannot dredge our rivers to keep them free flowing and use the material to build up banks (these materials are classified as toxic waste or some such nonsense). We used to have common sense and do this every year and kept flooding to a minimum. Owen Paterson instructed that the Somerset Levels be dredged but of course I don’t suppose it was done as he was sacked.
    When we are allowed to run our country as it needs to be in the interests of those who live here rather than by unelected, “over there” inhabitants who know nothing of our English problems the better.

  22. graham1946
    December 31, 2015

    It’s not only the public sector. How many firms do you know that bring in ‘Management Consultants’ and what used to be called ‘time and motion studies’ at high cost, who make ridiculous recommendations to justify their cost and then the firm goes bust. I’ve seen it a few times.
    Quangos are the politicians fall guys – so they can palm off the blame for ineptitude on to the even more inept. Problem is, the inept quangos never get put on CMD’s bonfire – they just get more money to waste and another expensive crony to head it up. Talking of which how can Lin Homer cock up the Border Agency, then HMRC and be given an honour? Dave really id ready for the funny farm. Nurse!

  23. ian wragg
    December 31, 2015

    The idea of Quangos is to relieve politicians of any responsibility.
    You are for example moaning about the shortcomings of the EA when in fact if you and your colleagues wanted it could be abolished or forced under threat of prosecution to do Parliaments will.
    It’s no good blaming Brussels when your party has been responsible for handing over powers on a daily basis and your leader thinks it is an excellent idea to be ruled by foreigners.
    Politicians like to have someone to blame and somewhere to hide.
    “Not my fault Guv” is the response and its not good enough.

  24. formula57
    December 31, 2015

    “It still usually suits all involved to blame the politicians rather than the wise independent body set up to the do the job.”.

    Indeed so – and grossly unfair after politicians have gone to all the trouble of setting up a structure to Crichel Down-proof themselves from responsibility.

  25. Kenneth
    December 31, 2015

    By far the worst and most damaging independent public body is the BBC which, instead of providing impartial information is keen to impart its opinions.

    Today it is campaigning against the knighthood for Lynton Crosby but similar headlines did not appear when Labour awarded a peerage in Jon Mendelsohn in September 2013. That is blatant bias.

    Only yesterday the BBC was urging the PM to allow ministers to be allowed to campaign to come out of the eu without losing their job. I happen to agree with the BBC on this, but it should not be putting its own opinions into the public domain. That is blatant political interference.

    The BBC is a source of division. It is constantly pitching ‘black’ versus ‘white’, female v male, able-bodied v disabled, poor v rich, old v young etc.

    It habitually breaks its own rules, not just on impartiality, but on advertising where it promotes movies, theatrical performances, musical recordings etc.

    It prefers left wing scriptwriters and music-makers. Its taste for left wing comedians is legendary.

    It promotes some retailers (John Lewis for example) and ignores others. Same for news publications. The BBC’s liking for the Guardian is well known. It also helped to launch the Huffington Post in the UK while ignoring other similar launches. It heavily promoted Twitter a few years ago and continues to support it, ignoring alternatives.

    Its influence is a spectre which affects journalism across most outlets as the BBC is the only secure source of employment for journalists in what is now – partly due to the BBC itself – a precarious profession. Non BBC journalists ape the BBC style as a result.

    Its influence on our children is haunting with some children’s programmes promoting its green agenda and revisionist history (‘Horrible Histories). Its tentacles even spread into the classroom as it seeks to influence our children through ‘school report’ and other projects.

    The BBC’s divisiveness is causing social tension; it is distorting markets; it is killing off quality journalism; it is breaking its own rules; it promotes certain political ideologies over others. Worse of all, is radicalising us, whatever our age.

    The people running this organisation should not be given transmitters and web servers using public money while they are doing so much damage.

    1. forthurst
      December 31, 2015

      “The BBC is a source of division. It is constantly pitching ‘black’ versus ‘white’, female v male, able-bodied v disabled, poor v rich, old v young etc.”

      They’re following the Cultural Marxist doctrine under which just about anyone who is not a prosperous heterosexual Englishman has to be identified as belonging to an ‘oppressed’ ‘minority’ of some sort. The purpose is to inculcate a sense of grievance in ‘minorities’, so created, on account of their fictitous ‘victimhood’ at the hands of those with (undeserved) ‘privilege’ in order to provoke social division and the need for ‘restitution’. The BBC is an evil organisation because it employs some evil people at senior level.

  26. Mitchel
    December 31, 2015

    Lin Homer,currently of HMRC,is being made a Dame in the New Years Honours list.Given her consistent record going back to the days when she presided over Birmingham City Council (deemed to be run as a banana republic by a judge in an electoral fraud case on her watch),I am beyond speechless.

    1. alan jutson
      December 31, 2015


      Unbelievable also think she was in charge of immigration at one stage as well.

      So many people in this World do their bit for no reward, to try and make this a better place, and never get a mention.

      Time this “titles/honours for the chosen few, by the few” was scrapped.

      Simply disgraceful.

    2. Jagman84
      December 31, 2015

      Lin Homer is a devotee of Common Purpose. An organisation, whose courses were described as “a complete waste of money” by Eric Pickles (although Mr Cameron is enamoured with them). Their “graduates” are often a by-word for incompetence. Maybe that is their intention?

  27. Bob
    December 31, 2015

    The honours system has finally lost all credibility under this government.

    1. Dame Rita Webb
      December 31, 2015

      Why should you not expect the owner of a chain of sex shops to receive an honour?Have you not forgotten that Dave decided that massage parlours should be included in the fight against youth unemployment, specifically with regard to the DWP’s “youth contract”? “(which) allows employers to claim wage incentives of up to £2,275 for each new recruit aged 18-24 who has been receiving benefits for at least six months through Jobcentre Plus. Strip clubs are not allowed to claim the subsidy for the actual performers, but the establishment can receive the cash for any bar staff, door staff, receptionists or cleaners they employ, according to guidelines for DWP staff … The same applies to saunas and massage parlours. For part time employees a company can claim up to £1,137.50.”

      1. alan jutson
        January 1, 2016

        Dame Rita

        The EU has included the sex industry and drugs dealers trade as part of a Countries GDP.

        It helps them get a greater financial contribution from all members apparently.

        I guess the chain of sex shops also pays tax into HMRC coffers which helps fund some of our governments expenditure.

  28. Ken Moore
    December 31, 2015

    Well I’m sick to death of Cameron’s vanity Cobra meetings – he needs to get hold of the boss of the EA when he gets back from Barbados and ask some tough questions. Why have dredging and embanking of rivers that has mitigated flooding for centuries been more or less abandoned?.

    Instead of re-arranging the Titanic’s deck chairs why doesn’t he crack on and focus these organisation on what they are supposed to do ie border agency should deport illegals, EA prevent flooding, Raitrack provide reliable capacity. But we are talking about a man with a legendary lack of attention to detail and short attention span.

    I agree with JR about the desire of Quango’s to ‘gold plate’ each Eu directive such as the water framework directive which has hampered flood prevention. It’s just a tool they use to justify their own bloated budgets.

    What is shocking is the woeful lack of informed oversight of these organisations – who is signing off the accounts ?. Someone, somewhere signed the cheque to allow railtrack to deal in these dodgy derivatives – the people in government that facilitate the madness are similarly shameless and unaccountable!.

    Dr Redwood, why have the EA, Railtrack and others been allowed to grow so powerful and unaccountable – is it a lack of care and attention on the part of some Mp’s , do they lack the supervisory powers or are many just not qualified to oversee them in a meaningful way? . What needs to change in your view ?. How can we get these organisations to focus on core responsibilities ?.

  29. stred
    December 31, 2015

    There is a quango which advertises the joys of smart meters all the time on LBC, with characters called Gas and Lecky. As much of my time is spent crawling into dark cupboards to read meters for the power companies, who don’t, I asked for one in a Victorian house. The meter man called but could not fit them as the gas box was too small and the mains fuse was old fashioned. They would contact the mains supply people and they would change the fuse. I gave my mobile as contact, as I leave it on all the time. 9 months later I found a letter from UK Power Networks under a pile of debt collection and junk mail at the house, which is unoccupied. I called their number. It had changed, as they had closed the county office. I called the new office and again ony got the answerphone. They did not call back, twice.

    I looked the firm up and found that the old SEEboard had been sold to a Chinese company for a very large sum and head office is in Hong Kong. They have about ten highly paid directors in the UK qualified as engineers and accountants. Presumably, they have to pay for the installation of new fuses, as SEEboard used to. It occurred to me that there is one thing worse than a publicly owned monopoly and that is a foreign owned private one.

    In our own house, we survived a smart meter installation, when the engineer nearly cut us off because of a slight gas leak in the new boiler. It was working well but then I found that the energy company was being economical with the truth when claiming we were on the cheapest tarrif and I changed to another company. They knew we had a smart meter and chose to tell us they could not read it after the change. So now I have to crawl in again but this time push button no 9 seven times and find which one is the right number, so far without success. Perhaps I should ask Gas and Lecky what to do.

  30. fedupsoutherner
    December 31, 2015

    I have had dealings with 4 of these quangos in Scotland. Scottish Natural Heritage, The Forestry Commission, Scottish Environmental Protection Agency and Scottish Water. In all cases they have failed miserably to protect the public from the carnage of wind farms in Scotland. To be fair, some of this is due to the inability of the Scottish Government (SNP) to listen to these advisors. Scottish Natural Heritage has often advised the government that to erect a certain wind farm in a certain area would be to the detriment of the landscape, wildlife and residents but naturally, as in so many other areas, the SNP know best and do what they like. The Forestry Commission is busy selling off vast areas of forestry with no proper public consultation in order to erect wind farms. Much of the felling of trees has been done during the breeding season, but never mind.. The Scottish Environmental Protection Agency and Scottish Water are both guilty of not monitoring water quality when wind farms have been erected and have not reported serious water contamination which has occurred during the site being erected. One wonders what we have these quangos for and why we are paying such vast amounts when the public don’t get consulted or advised and the government overrules the very people they employ to advise.

  31. Lifelogic
    December 31, 2015

    Examples of quangos that do the job they are meant to do well? Well no many I can think of.

    Perhaps just the ones that do all the bus lane, hatched junction, parking and motorist mugging and inconveniencing systems perhaps?

    Leave your car for half a minute over the time or put a tyre into an empty bus lane and you are mugged. Yet shop lifters and burglars are virtually immune. They are hardly ever caught or punished, rarely even any real investigation. Just not a priority as no money in it you see if caught and prosecuted they are a net cost to the state so they rarely bother.

  32. Yosarion
    December 31, 2015

    Its almost as if there is an intellectual Stasi with a Common Purpose to destroy everything so they can rebuild their New World, Because time and time again we see these people fired from one job because of failure with Golden a handshake only to take over another failed organisation a few weeks later passing the previous incumbent in the corridor on the way to take up their old posting.

  33. Anonymous
    December 31, 2015

    Actually… the whole point of a quango is to kick a can up the road. To create time and space for the changes – that people don’t want – to take place.

  34. Bill
    December 31, 2015

    I think Ofsted is a quango. Does it do any good? I am not convinced that its lightening visits can really provide a proper snapshot of a school and its capabilities. There was a time when the money which is now spent on inspection of schools was spent on the in-service training of teachers. We have fallen into a culture of regulation and inspection rather than training and support. Pretty much every public body is regulated and every public service is inspected. Nobody, apparently, can be trusted to do their jobs without someone checking on them.

  35. Iain gill
    December 31, 2015

    Politicians and the chattering classes are often wrong. Like they thought high rise council housing blocks were the perfect housing solution in the 60’s and the group think self reinforced the crazy theories. Obvious mistakes like these have not been learnt from. The same group think pseudo science nonsense is obvious in current traffic management approaches, state school allocation approaches, and so much more.

  36. Stephen Berry
    December 31, 2015

    It does not seem sensible to make a big divide between the politicians and the quangos. One can hardly imagine a quango implementing policies which ran directly contrary to the wishes of the current government. A quango can act as a buffer between an angry public and the politicians. For instance, heads may be about to roll at the Environment Agency to placate an angry public. But the minister, who seems to be just as convinced of our helplessness when faced by climate change, could keep her job.

    The ultimate solution to the quango problem is privatisation. Network Rail would not exist if the original railway privatisation had returned the railways to the position prior to nationalisation. Much of the work of the Environment Agency could be done by private companies. For instance, interested parties could pay a company to dredge a river rather than pay taxes with the end result of a quango not dredging that same river.

    Often these quangos are downright damaging as they monitor their various equality agendas. If not directly damaging, they may be simply superfluous to requirements as is the case with the Office for Budget Responsibility. The Chancellor pats himself on the back when his financial figures tally with those of this august body. But does he realises that they are just another group of people who makes economic forecasts with all the pitfalls that implies. That fact that this body may be independent does not give a unique insight when peering into the economic crystal ball.

  37. MPC
    December 31, 2015

    I would not agree with your characterisation of quangos as ‘independent’. I recall they originated under your own Conservative government in the 1980s! Then they were called NDPBs – non departmental public bodies. The stated advantages of them were around avoiding perceived shortcomings of the civil service such as bureaucracy, slow decision making and an inability to attract talented people from the private sector.

    It is more irritating that many Non Government Organisations (NGOs) present themselves as independent when they are in receipt of substantial EU funds. NGOs such as Greenpeace, World Wildlife Fund and our very own CBI have convinced a lot of people that they are truly ‘independent’ and that the research they commission is also ‘independent’ in terms of findings which happen to support EU policies.

    1. Robin Willis
      January 2, 2016

      The statement that such bodies “originated under your own Conservative government in the 1980s” is just plain wrong. Eg the Civil Service Commission was founded in 1855, ACAS in its present form from 1975, DVLA in 1965, the Imperial War Museum in 1917.

      There was a lot of public interest in the 1980s with media attention to appointments and pay but (a) many dated back a long way if you dug and (b) the then government started to address them.

      There are still issues with NDPBs such as whether pay (especially for senior posts) in NDPBs exceeds the pay in the civil service for similar roles on the grounds of “market rates”. But then the same is true of other bits of the public sector which haven’t be subject to the same pay controls as the civil service (and MPs!).

  38. David Edwards
    December 31, 2015

    The U.K. Intellectual Property Office (an executive agency of the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills, although I believe largely self-funded) is in my opinion, as a frequent user of its services, a shining beacon of efficiency, value for money and competence. By comparison the European Patent Office is expensive, slow and bureaucratic (although not part of the EU as such, e.g. Norway and Switzerland are members of the European Patent Convention).

    1. Lifelogic
      December 31, 2015

      I have not deal with the patent office for perhaps 10 years or so but when I did they were very good and helpful I agree.

      Though if you have a monopoly/fee earning system it is not that hard to self fund.

  39. English Pensioner
    December 31, 2015

    I simply see Quangos, etc., as a way for Ministers to avoid blame. If something goes wrong, the Minister can say that they operate at arms length, that he has no involvement in day to day matters, and merely sets the broad objectives.
    In the limit, when things get out of control, he can fire the Chairman or Chief Executive, appoint new faces and claim the problem is solved. No Ministerial resignation is ever necessary these days.
    Far better when things were run by the Civil Service proper and the Minister was fully responsible for the actions of his Department. Of course he now has an additional ‘out’ as he can blame the EU, which I suspect is why so many politicians want to remain in it!

  40. petermartin2001
    December 31, 2015

    It’s not just in government that there is a tendency to ‘pass the buck’. The use of highly paid consultants in industry is rife too. Generally speaking, government should govern and management should manage. Everyone should do the jobs they are paid for.

    This should include, as used to be the case, Govt setting interest rates BTW! Why the need to involve the BoE?

    Having said that, we do need to have the right people.

    A recently reported comment by the Right Honourable Elizabeth Truss MP, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs doesn’t do much to instill confidence in this respect :

    “Our flood defences worked really well until they failed” ! 🙂

  41. Robin Willis
    January 2, 2016

    The heading got it right – ie “often”, not “always”. There are few hard and fast rules but a Quango (“Non-Departmental Public Body” please?) can work well. Look at the CWGC. There are few hard and fast rules but that has some of the traits which can make an NDPB work well: stable policy; functions which are rarely controversial or party political; working in partnership with other sources of funding.

    Conversely the attempts to distance operational control of the NHS from Ministers was bonkers. Did Ministers really think they would escape blame when things went wrong? Did they consciously ignore the lessons from eg the much hyped “Next Steps” Executive Agencies? Or was it all part of the cult of “a bias for action” which so often treats lessons from history as bunk (and, if from civil servants, as double bunk with sprinkles)?

  42. Trevor Butler
    January 2, 2016

    I do my best to shut my trap ‘cos I’ve escaped the UK but when I start comparing the Hong Kong government to the UK – Flip you guys are in a mess and need to get a dose of reality – I read the the UK news and think that I’m in some sort of parallel universe of the absurd – You could not make up what is considered acceptable…

  43. Lindsay McDougall
    January 3, 2016

    The most recent example is the optimistically irresponsible forecast of GDP growth from the so called Office of Budget Responsibility. They are simply a bunch of Civil Servants who have been hived off to prevent them being bullied by politicians. However, that doesn’t prevent them being dedicated followers of economic fashion.

    Their forecast of 5 straight years of GDP growth at 2.4% is over the top. The long term UK growth rate since Margaret Thatcher came to power in 1979 has been 2.0%. This overall rate includes three major recessions but so it should because recessions are a necessary correction to over loose fiscal and monetary policy. Some of this growth has been due to population increase; GDP per capita growth has been 1.5% per annum and that’s what matters.

    What is alarming is that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has bought into this nonsense and abandoned deficit reduction, if only for the time being. Most politicians believe that the time to do the nasty stuff is in the first two years of a parliament. Mr Osborne will now have to do it in years 2 and 3.

    1. petermartin2001
      January 3, 2016

      @ Lindsay,

      I always like to try and understand all arguments, on both sides of any controversy, as well as I can. Firstly, to try to know which ones are right and secondly to be better able to argue against the ones that are incorrect. It’s always an advantage to understand your opponents’ own arguments better than they do.

      You’ll probably think Prof John T Harvey’s article why you should love Government deficits (just Google the phrase in italics to find it) is hopelessly wrong.

      But if you agree with my first paragraph you might be interested in reading it all the same.

  44. Mike Wilson
    January 3, 2016

    There are no QUANGOs left. Cameron promised a bonfire of the QUANGOs so I am sure they have all been shut down.

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