The number of quangos

Some of you have written in reply  to my piece on how Ministers can and should monitor and direct government bodies that we have too many of them. You  would prefer abolition to better performance review and budget controls.

This is to miss the point of my piece. No government is going to abolish all the government bodies that are under their own CEOs and Boards. Some of these bodies are both necessary and sensibly set up with an appropriate governing structure which Ministers need to help make work well. The piece  responds to a need for better control and performance checking of these bodies. This has been  highlighted yet again by the obvious failings of the independent public sector model in the Post Office where Ministers failed to intervene when they could have saved the Post Office a lot of trouble and expense as well as saving the livelihoods of wrongly accused people.

I do agree that there are too many of these bodies. It would be good to persuade Ministers to have a review of which ones could be abolished altogether, which ones do work that would be better undertaken directly by government departments, and which ones could do with new directions. Good Ministers keep such questions in mind as a matter of course for the bodies that report to them, and should be on the look out for opportunities to slim the quango estate as legislative time and political will allows.

I remember making the case over several years for the abolition of the South East England Regional Development Agency. Eventually the incoming Coalition government took up the idea and abolished the English Agencies in 2012. In order to succeed you do need to identify the body, show how what it does does not need doing, or demonstrate how what it does is best done by someone else. In the case of the Development Agency I argued

 

  1. Homes for sale and the provision of new factories, warehouses, offices and other commercial space was best left to the private sector. The public sector involvement should  be confined to the local Planning Authorities over land use .
  2. The public sector does have a monopoly on the provision of road space and usually supplies less capacity than is needed. The Development Agency was usually deaf to entreaties to resolve the capacity and related safety issues. The Local Highways Authority remained the body with budget and powers to sort out local roads, and the central government and its English Highways Agency had the budget and powers over strategic roads. The Development Agency could slow things down or get in the way of resolving roads issues. I  never remember it helping when I was trying to get improvements.
  3. The public sector also controls the rail network and has extensive national budgets and regulators, so there was no helpful role for the Regional Agency there either.
  4. It was difficult to see what the Agency added to local Colleges, national apprenticeship programmes, and local Six forms to the general tasks of education, training and development.

I mention this success again, because government when it did the right thing and abolished these bodies could not resist setting up mini versions called LEPs. These are less costly and interventionist, but it is difficult to see why they are needed given the big roles in planning and development taken by Councils and central government anyway. My argument  against LEPs has so far not succeeded.

 

170 Comments

  1. Peter Wood
    May 2, 2021

    Good morning,

    You talk of better management of public bodies. Is there any joined up thinking going on in government to relate this to the elimination of ‘red tape’ resulting from Brexit? 30 plus years of EU edicts must surely be reviewed/repealed/replaced along with the intention to improve and reduce the size of the public sector. Is this in the works; will we soon see see a fabulous plan for new a 21st Century, efficient, honest public sector?

    reply Yes, plenty of scope for improvement

    Reply
    1. Andy
      May 2, 2021

      I had to check to make sure it is not April 1st.

      The elimination of ‘red tape resulting from Brexit’ rings hollow for millions of businesses and consumers facing a tsunami of new paperwork as a result of your Brexit.

      It is genuinely staggering that you still have the audacity to claim otherwise.

      Reply
      1. jerry
        May 2, 2021

        @Andy; “The elimination of ‘red tape resulting from Brexit’ rings hollow for millions of businesses and consumers facing a tsunami of new paperwork as a result of your Brexit.”

        Nothing to do with Brexit, everything to the belligerency of the EU I suspect.
        I will ask again, what actually changed at 23:00hrs on Dec 31sy 2020 to cause the EU to insist on all this extra paperwork, did something magical happen to the produce in question, one minute being in full compliance with EU rules but not the next? Your explanation, Andy, would be most welcome -what with your apparent insider knowledge of all things Brussels…

        Reply
        1. Andy
          May 2, 2021

          You erected a border for goods and services. That’s what happened.

          Borders mean pointless bureaucracy. Did you miss the memo? We only told you for five years.

          Reply
          1. Peter2
            May 2, 2021

            Barriers?
            Seems goods are still coming and going.
            Where are your predicted empty shelves, medicine shortages and lorry queues at Calais.
            Game up young Andy.

          2. jerry
            May 2, 2021

            @Andy; You still have not answered my question.
            The Boarder you talk of was there before 23:00hrs on the 31st Dec 2020, it’s been there since before we joined the EEC, you appear to be talking about trade a barrier (as Peter2 point out), the UK did not erect any such barrier, the EU has.

        2. acorn
          May 2, 2021

          The magical thing that happened is the UK assumed the status of an EU “third country”, that is a non-member of the EU Club. The UK is now being treated exactly the same as all other non-member third countries. No EU third country extra rules exist post Brexit that apply solely to the UK and not to any of the other 140+ sovereign third countries the EU associates with, be it at a basic WTO level or higher.

          Fishing for instance. Live bivalve molluscs can continue to be exported to the EU if they’re harvested from Class A waters. That is an EU third country import rule that was established long before Brexit that the UK fishermen were never told about by “leavers”. To add insult to injury, the UK has failed to get a deal for UK boats to Cod fish in Norwegian waters. What price your imported fish and chips this year.

          Reply
          1. Peter2
            May 2, 2021

            You remainers are so concerned with new bureaucracy over bi valve molluscs acorn.
            Like costs of wallpaper it is a really big thing.

          2. jerry
            May 2, 2021

            @acorn; “The UK is now being treated exactly the same as all other non-member third countries.”

            It is more complex than mere Third Country and WTO status, given that the UK and EU did agree a post Brexit settlement during the Transition period meaning neither party would revert to using WTO rules to trade with each other come Jan. 2021. Both Norway & Switzerland are Third Countries, neither are members of the “European Union”, it would appear neither are being treated as the UK is.

          3. acorn
            May 3, 2021

            Jerry. The EEA includes EU countries and also Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. It allows them to be part of the EU’s single market. Switzerland is not an EU or EEA member but is part of the single market.

          4. jerry
            May 3, 2021

            @acorn; Read what I said, not reply to what you think I said, I chose my words carefully, Switzerland is not a member of the EEA…

            There is no reason why the EU could not treat the UK in the same way, they chose not to, yes it could be argued (and no doubt the some europhiles will) that rules are rules but the EU has been very good at twisting, even breaking, their own rules when it suits.

      2. MiC
        May 2, 2021

        Indeed, Andy – but I wonder if John’s preoccupation with quangos just now is anything to do with the fact that the Electoral Commission is the only body investigating Johnson’s suspiciously opaque claims, as to the funding of aspects of his life, with the power to interview witnesses under caution?

        The ERG seem to exert considerable influence over the PM, greater than one would expect from their apparent number, and I’m sure that they’d like that to continue.

        Reply Nothing top do with it. If I had issues with the Electoral Commission I would set them out. Why make things up like this?

        Reply
        1. Peter2
          May 2, 2021

          More fake news from you MiC
          Another example of you making things up.

          Reply
          1. Peter2
            May 2, 2021

            Still no comment nor apology for falsely claiming 400,000 illegal acts were being ignored by the Environmental Agency.
            Time to climb down off you high lefty horse MiC

          2. MiC
            May 2, 2021

            I didn’t claim that.

            Just that at the time of writing no one had been prosecuted.

            If they had been ignored, then presumably we would not know how many there were?

          3. MiC
            May 2, 2021

            Peter, the fact that as you point out, these 400,000+ discharges of raw sewage into rivers and streams were in fact LEGALISED for the privateers simply makes Tory Britain an even more disgustingly egregious case.

            Doesn’t it?

            (Click, bang “ow, my foot!” yells Peter.)

        2. acorn
          May 2, 2021

          Have you noticed how the gradual lifting of the Covid cloud is starting to expose the disaster that is Brexit. The lies and deceit of the “leave” campaign is daily becoming more evident. Brexiters are foaming at the mouth like rabid dogs, looking for someone, anyone, anything to blame for their inability to recognise that they have been well and truly conned; and, there is now no doubt that they and their families will be the ones who will be paying the price for Brexit through the next decade.

          Reply
          1. Peter2
            May 2, 2021

            Quite the opposite acorn.
            Where are the queues at ports and crammed lorry parks you all predicted?
            What happened to the crashing pound you all predicted?
            Where is the great transfer of jobs and businesses off to Europe you all predicted?
            Where is the lower level of growth you all predicted compared to the EU
            Admitt it.
            Your ridiculous Project Fear predictions have not come true.

        3. Peter2
          May 2, 2021

          MiC
          You said the Environmental Agency failed to prosecute 400,000 “illegal ” acts….except there were not illegal.
          Your beloved EU who made the law allowed for these these things to happen.
          Even the Guardian article shows you are wrong
          Come on MiC stop your lefty propaganda and
          just climb down and apologise for your fake news post.

          Reply
        4. Peter2
          May 2, 2021

          MiC
          The reason no one had been prosecuted was that under EU law it wasn’t illegal which is what you erroneously claimed.

          Is that so very difficult for you to understand.

          An apology for your fake news is way overdue.

          Reread the Guardian article and come back with your apology for your error.

          Reply
    2. agricola
      May 2, 2021

      With respect SJR, we can all see the scope, but where is the action.

      Reply
    3. Richard1
      May 2, 2021

      You are right there are lots of opportunities for this. MIFID II, GDPR, the anti-scientific ban on GM foods, the self-serving and biased state investment rules all offer plenty of scope. And of course the independent trade policy, being implemented with such success by Liz Truss, whereas Continuity Remain assured us for years that such a thing would be impossible. And much more.

      But the jury is very much out on the extent to which the Govt will try to take advantage of these opportunities. If they don’t, we may as well be back in the single market.

      Reply
    4. jon livesey
      May 2, 2021

      I think that you have a very good idea. We are transitioning out of an organization – it will take time – that is founded on the principle of regulation. For the EU, regulation isn’t just a bad habit; it’s almost like a tranquilising drug. Keep counting, checking and banning for precautionary motives, and you just feel safer.

      As the EU itself said,the UK is now a fast motor-boat, and we just don’t need to sit like Buddha regulating everything. In the short term, thanks to the EU, we have *more* regulation instead of less. The Vet’s certificate for the box of biscuits has taken the place of the straight banana.

      As time goes on and the original con game of convincing every British citizen that all we do all day is trade with the EU, becomes less and less convincing, we will concentrate of trade with countries that do business instead of just counting it, we need to get rid of some of our own regulations as well as the EU’s.

      Reply
  2. Mark B
    May 2, 2021

    Good morning.

    The piece responds to a need for better control and performance checking of these bodies.

    But many of us questioned their need in the first place. After all, we managed very well BEFORE their creation.

    One good QUANGO, and I believe the first if not one of the first, was the London Docklands Development Corporation – LDDC. The LDDC was given a clear task, monies and land to redevelop an area blighted by economic and social decline. It was approached by private industry (mostly banking) and developed the success that it is today. It now no longer exists but, it serves as a useful example of what can be done when properly instigated, managed, funded, and with a clear end goal in sight. QUANGO’s are not replacements for national government responsibility. Today many of us see them for what they are, part of the Chumocracy and New Labour in power, stuffed full of their cronies. They exist to serve themselves and not the people, government or nation. I mentioned the ICO yesterday as I see no reason why I should pay a QUANGO money just to tell it I have information. This is a stealth tax !

    STOP PICKING OUR POCKETS.

    REply Yes I was Minister for the LDDC for a bit. Defined limited purpose followed by closure of the body was central to success.

    Reply
    1. Lifelogi
      May 2, 2021

      Exactly as you say:- Today many of us see them for what they are, part of the Chumocracy and New Labour in power, stuffed full of their cronies. They exist to serve themselves and not the people, government or nation.

      They need proper direction but so rarely get it.

      I see that Grenville Tower tragedy (caused almost entirely by the incompetent state sector, idiotic cladding organised by them and moronic fire chiefs moronically sending people back to or telling people to stay in their flats) has resulted in a new very expensive Fire Safety Act. More and very expensive regulation from Priti Patel for the private sector with doubtless even more powers for quangos, regulators & incompetents over the private sector.

      Reply
      1. Lifelogic
        May 2, 2021

        Meanwhile 15+ times the number who died at Grenville have died due to incompetence by JCVI, Gov and Hancock in the vaccination priority order by failing to adjust for gender risk as logic obviously demanded. Wasting £ billions in the process too.

        No “appetite” to save them or protect their widows or partners it seems.

        Reply
        1. MiC
          May 2, 2021

          Much as I would like to see the back of this excuse for a government, it is the law, or uncertainty as to the law, not incompetence – on this point at least – which prevents them from doing the baldly discriminatory things that you propose.

          Reply
          1. Lifelogic
            May 2, 2021

            Surely nonsense, but if true the law here is killing many people for no reason. By not adjusting they have actively discriminated against men by not reflecting real risks – men of 6o being at about the same risk as women of 65.

            They did after all give the HPV vaccine only to girls initially. Are you suggesting medical treatments for say breast cancer, cervical cancer, prostate cancer and the likes cannot now be adjusted to reflect real gender risks? What about the nearly 1000 widows they have created?

          2. MiC
            May 2, 2021

            Your points are all valid, but that does not stop my post from being correct too.

      2. Sir Joe Soap
        May 2, 2021

        To be fair, it was the private sector which stuck the cladding on.
        The public sector had one job-to regulate precisely what could and couldn’t be used by the private sector-and it failed.

        The lesson here is to give any publicly funded body doing such a job a distinct mission-FCA style-rather like an insurance scheme. Fund it from the private sector, and make it accountable to the end customer (in cladding case, the buyers and renters of these flats). The latter can then go back and claim recompense from this body when it is shown to have abjectly failed. Same case in point for the PO.

        The big question is whether those in charge of such bodies face the metaphoric firing squad or are just pensioned off to the seaside when they cock up? Is the shame showered on to people who haven’t held the fort sufficient punishment for failure? Should those who appointed these folks pay, because they failed to monitor them, and if so, how?
        Host fails to ask or answer these questions, but they are at the root of these failures, because without a viable check and track system, these organisations seem to keep on digging themselves into a bigger hole.

        PS the reply system on this website jumps around all over the place now. Keep the pictures, but can we go back to the old comments system please?

        Reply
        1. Lifelogic
          May 2, 2021

          “it was the private sector which stuck the cladding on”. Well yes but who instructed them, paid them, prepared and checked the specification, who ensured they had complied with it before payng them?

          The most damaging error was the fire brigades senior management telling people to stay in their flats when it was very clear (merely from looking at the TV pictures for a few seconds) that the fire was totally out of control. It is rather too common for “experts” to be “educated” into moronic stupidity.

          Reply
        2. MiC
          May 3, 2021

          The GOVERNMENT – not some general “public sector” – is who should regulate everything from what type of cladding may be fitted to buildings to what penalties should be imposed for avoidable releases of sewage into watercourses.

          With a rubber-stamping majority of eighty there is ZERO excuse for them not getting any relevant Acts passed too.

          It should also establish properly resourced entities to inspect, to enforce, and to prosecute where needed.

          It is the TORY GOVERNMENT which has failed utterly.

          Reply
          1. Peter2
            May 3, 2021

            Failure….is that polls showing even more in favour of brexit than in 2016, or polls showing a bigger lead than at the last election, or those who vote “don’t know” being close in number to those who prefer kneel starmer.
            Maybe it is you who is in a minority MiC

      3. rose
        May 2, 2021

        Wasn’t it the EU which directed that the very safe fireproof cladding put on the Grenfell Tower in 1974 be replaced in the war against carbon dioxide? And all those other buildings as well?

        Reply
        1. Lifelogic
          May 2, 2021

          It probably used more CO2 and energy to put the cladding up then would have been saved in heating anyway. London is not very cold after all most of the year.

          Reply
        2. MiC
          May 2, 2021

          Interesting that there has been no comparable outrage anywhere in the twenty-seven countries of today’s European Union, isn’t it Rose?

          It has also provided money to build key roads which it advocated, but was perhaps naïve enough to trust that the Tories wouldn’t build them heading straight over cliffs and into the sea.

          Reply
        3. Andy
          May 2, 2021

          No.

          Reply
        4. Alan Jutson
          May 2, 2021

          Rose
          Just wait until the EU finish their construction of more legislation on ICE vehicles due to be published in 2022. It is being suggested that hybrid vehicles will need to be able to complete significant mileage with only battery power being used, which will put existing and future proposed mild hybrid vehicles into the 2030 category, it is also being suggested that any vehicle that has any form of ICE components fitted, will not be able to claim hybrid status.
          Power will be by either electric charging, or hydrogen power sources only.
          The addendum suggests the UK will sign up to the above legislation as proposed.

          Has the UK had any input into this JR with result to consolation or voluntary consultation do you know.

          Reply
          1. Alan Jutson
            May 2, 2021

            The new Euro 7 regulations will also mean ever more restrictions on emissions

          2. glen cullen
            May 2, 2021

            EU level playing field kicking in

          3. glen cullen
            May 2, 2021

            The ban on ICE motorcars is to try and reduce the level of CO2.
            Climate change scientists concluded that high levels of CO2 contribute to higher temperatures and global warming.
            Those same climate change scientists determined that global warming is indeed climate change.
            ….and those climate change scientists used the same modelling as the ‘hockey stick’ to determine that the world will be destroyed in 10 years (they also listen to teenage girls)

    2. Everhopeful
      May 2, 2021

      I wonder if there will be a post covid fire sale of Docklands? After all, those office blocks won’t be much use. All the land freed up…again. Didn’t LDDC have huge powers of acquisition ( requisition?) etc?
      Docks had gone into decline because of new tech. Yet other countries upgraded and kept their docks. We freed ours up for “development”.
      WW2 bombing paved the way for removing the indigenous dock land population to new towns. Whereas other countries rebuilt people’s homes …in the same place.
      The IRA bomb freed up yet more land…are the survivors still uncompensated 25 years on?
      West India Dock was the most expensive dock in the world, the docks were once the gateway to a great empire.
      Sic transit etc…and all done to us by governments!

      (And the so called “theft” that led to the creation of docks ( rather than rowing out to the ships) was no more than the withdrawal of a time honoured practice of “sweepings”.
      Erosion of workers’s rights as ever).

      Reply
      1. forthurst
        May 2, 2021

        The development of Docklands was a private sector free-for-all for businesses trying to escape the high rents and space restrictions of the City after the Thatcher government decided to replace our widely distributed industrial estate with accommodation for foreign banksters. The place is a disgraceful mess with nothing for the few people who live there to do. However, it was never suitable to become a port for container ships whose size and draft could not have been accommodated.

        Reply
        1. Everhopeful
          May 2, 2021

          +1

          Reply
    3. jerry
      May 2, 2021

      @Mark B; The LDDC was a vehicle to transfer what was (notionally) public to private developers, the PLA already had oversight but were removed from the roll of any redevelopment, surely a clear example of the “Chumocracy” you apparently despise.

      As for closure of the quango once its purpose was complete, who can argue with that, once all the (notionally) public assets had been sold off for private redevelopment!

      As for the ICO, if not a ‘stealth tax’ it would have to be funded via general taxation, or perhaps you would prefer the ICO not to exist?…

      Reply
      1. Everhopeful
        May 2, 2021

        +1

        Reply
    4. Mark B
      May 2, 2021

      Yes Sir John.

      Nail head hit !

      Reply
      1. jerry
        May 2, 2021

        @Mark B; “Nail head hit !”

        Expert you missed target, hitting your thumb instead! See my earlier reply (above), you appear to be unaware of the PLA’s existence…

        PS, that is no reflection upon our host and his responsibilities as Minister, his role would have existed had the redevelopment been undertaken by the LDDC or the PLA.

        Reply
  3. Mark B
    May 2, 2021

    If our kind host allows, which for me he does not seem to.

    /sarc

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/London_Docklands_Development_Corporation

    Reply
  4. agricola
    May 2, 2021

    When a large retail organisation is in trouble they conduct an audit of the contribution of each branch, quickly closing unprofitable branches. They have to or go bankrupt. They operate in a real, unforgiving, commercial world.

    When it is government spending or wasting tax payers money there is no incentive , commercial pressure, or looming bankruptcy to compel remedial action. Our host has outlined above how he tried to impress sense and commercial logic on Regional Developement Agencies. I dont know when he started but it had to await the arrival of a new government before it happened, but only for them to morph into LEPs, whatever they are. It only emphasises that without commercial pressure the ever present drag on taxpayers will continue to hoover up national income and be a permanent sea anchor on the wealth producers whatever the sea state. What greater incentive can there be to incorporate and operate where this nonsense is not allowed to flourish. Those who do not create are largely parasites on the bodies of those who do.

    Reply
    1. jerry
      May 2, 2021

      @agricola; There is a BIG difference between your commercial example (of a large retail organisation) and a govt Quango, the latter often has to exist [1], overseeing what has to be provided, they being the only provider because there being little or no commercial profit to be made.

      [1] qualification – has to exist, as in being at arms length to, or a protector of, govt departments and ministers.

      Reply
    2. Mark B
      May 2, 2021

      The Conservative Party of the late 80’s early 90’s brought in Compulsory Competitive Tendering (CCT) into Local Councils. Councils were obliged to put out to tender any works that could be done just as easily by the Private Sector. In short, the Public Sector were put in direct competition. From my knowledge it showed that many Public Sector bodies and employees were simply not fit for purpose.

      Reply
      1. jerry
        May 2, 2021

        @Mark B; If you think for-profit private companies always offer a better service to the public for their taxes Pounds you are living in some alternate reality. Take refuge collection for example, around here (like many areas) we almost have to load our own sacks into the lorry these days, 30-40 years ago our council refuge workers collected the waste from where we kept our bins and would take anything they could reasonably fit into the lorry, now we need put our sacks or wheelie bins out by 7am [1], many needing to block pavements in doing so, whilst we have to pay extra for many types of waste – thus fly tipping has increased.

        [1] meaning many residents put them out the night before, and guess what, Tory penny pinching also means the street lights are turned off between midnight and 6am, and of course the sacks get attacked by the nocturnal and early-bird scavenging wildlife, yet a shovel and broom appears unknown to the private refuge collectors…

        Reply
        1. rose
          May 2, 2021

          It was the unions at the end of the sixties who compelled us to put our dustbins out on the pavement. Until then they had all been invisible, collected and returned to their basement areas etc by the dustmen. Health and Safety, not privatisation.

          Reply
          1. jerry
            May 2, 2021

            @rose; That was not the case with my LA, it was a condition laid down by the the company who won the contract, the original instruction was for refuge sacks, not our bins, to be placed kerbside. As for Health and Safety, what does the HSE say about blocked pavements, rotten, slippery, food waste all over the pavements, not to mention the health risks from increased numbers of wild animals now leaving their droppings in urban areas.

  5. Everhopeful
    May 2, 2021

    If we are now seeing the results of QUANGOs and LEPs then let’s face it….
    They don’t work.
    In fact nothing done by governments has probably ever helped anyone anywhere.
    Spanish soldiers happening upon a group of unwary pea pickers and seeing them as tax fodder.
    The dreadful, appalling mess that has been made of this country.
    Hands off! Less interference.
    Fewer money sponges.

    Reply
    1. glen cullen
      May 2, 2021

      Quangos’ – the next big Tory scandal ….this month

      Reply
      1. Everhopeful
        May 2, 2021

        +1

        Reply
  6. agricola
    May 2, 2021

    The single purpose quango has merit, as reiterated above. Imagine for a moment the HS2 project in such hands. On all acceptable commercial grounds it would have been rapidly terminated. With a bottomless pot of taxpayers money it thrives and will continue to mop up taxpayers money during its operational life.

    Reply
    1. Mark B
      May 2, 2021

      And making a lot of people rich in the process.

      Reply
    2. glen cullen
      May 2, 2021

      Remember it was initially an EU Single European Rail Area project that prompted HS2 Ltd…..another EU project which this government will complete at any cost

      Reply
      1. J Bush
        May 2, 2021

        Agreed. It begs the question why Johnson & Co are so intent on wasting our money on something that is now not required? And trying to sell it as saving 20 minutes between London and Birmingham doesn’t wash with the bulk of the people who will have to pay for it, but probably won’t be able to afford to use it, or need to use it!

        Reply
  7. agricola
    May 2, 2021

    A further thought, your title, ” The Number of Quangoes”, never gets round to saying how many there are.
    Can you publish a list under ministerial heading, plus those that float free of any ministerial control like the BBC. If it is the 1000 as reported perhaps Wikipedia would oblige with budgets appended. It is only when the full extent of the problem is identified that remedial action can be taken

    Reply
  8. Sharon
    May 2, 2021

    Talking of quangos – PHE – am I wrong in thinking this was disbanded? It seems to be very much still present!

    Reply
  9. Cynic
    May 2, 2021

    It may well be that governments enjoy the patronage that Quangos provide of appointing supporters to sinecures.

    Reply
  10. Sakara Gold
    May 2, 2021

    According to 2017 figures from the Taxpayer’s Alliance, there are 988 QUANGO’s (non-departmental public bodies) operating in the UK. Collectively they spent ~ £90 billion of taxpayers money and cost roughly £17 billion in salaries, expenses and non-contributory index-linked pensions.

    A list of quangos and their costs can be obtained in XL format from the .gov.uk website. Some of them are extremely obscure;

    Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes
    Committee on Mutagenicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment
    Senior Salaries Review Body
    Independent Reconfiguration Panel
    Investigatory Powers Tribunal
    Great Britain China Centre
    Sir John Soane’s Museum
    Marshall Aid Commemoration Commission
    Gambling Commission
    Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority
    Coal Authority
    Single Source Regulations Office
    The Pensions Regulator
    Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (who would have thought HMRC was a QUANGO? )
    British Pharmacopoeia Commission

    Collectively QUANGOS spend about a fifth of government income. Not to mention the generous non-contributory index linked final salary pensions for the highly paid incumbents, many of whose heads earn more than Secretaries of State or indeed the Prime Minister. We should scrap the lot and save the money – many would be forgiven for thinking that their prime function is to give jobs to the old boys and girls. Not too onerous mind you, only one or two days a week. Nice work if you can get it.

    Reply
    1. Mark B
      May 2, 2021

      Coal Authority – Well that is one that can definitely be shutdown along with all the coal fire power stations.

      Reply
      1. Paul Cuthbertson
        May 2, 2021

        Nothing wrong with coal and we have a plentiful supply of good quality coal. Our Coal mines shut down due to EU policies. Nothing wrong with coal fired powered stations either. We have the technology to burn clean.
        Far better than the wood fired Drax conversion and any windmill. Unfortunately the ‘Greenos’ dictate the policies and live in “cuckoo land”. They observe the flume from a cooling tower and cry, polution? Kwasi Kwateng and Anne-Marie Trevelyan have no clue about Energy.

        Reply
        1. Fedupsoutherner
          May 2, 2021

          OMG. I actually agree with you.

          Reply
        2. Lifelogic
          May 3, 2021

          +1

          Reply
        3. hefner
          May 3, 2021

          PC, The deep coal mines were closed because they were not economical at a time when North Sea gas and oil were first discovered (in the mid-60s) and became available (from 1975 and fully exploited from the 80s). Furthermore the strike actions by miners in 1972, 1974 had brought pay rise to the miners, and it appears brought the first closed-doors discussions of shutting off the whole industry. The handling of the UK miners strike of 1984-85 by the Government finished off the job.

          Where are the EU policies in all that, please?

          What exactly is the technology to burn coal clean (with references of existing working systems, please). UCG? Wet scrubbers? IGCC? CCS? CFBT? Please tell me your favourite tech. Thanks.

          Reply
          1. MiC
            May 3, 2021

            Aye, the European Union didn’t exist until 1992, formally until 2007.

        4. glen cullen
          May 3, 2021

          1000% agree

          Reply
    2. nota#
      May 2, 2021

      @Sakara Gold – Thank you for this. That would more than suggest a fifth of all the taxes we pay go to keeping chums in the style of life the desire. A real highlight of a them and us version of Democracy.

      Reply
  11. J Bush
    May 2, 2021

    I was one of those critical of the numbers of quangos and I named 2 or 3 of them.

    Please can you tell me what is the purpose of the parish council precept (which comes from council tax) if a fair percentage of it has to go to quangos, instead of its original purpose?

    Parish councils can be criticised for not doing enough for the local community, such as litter disposal, regular grass cutting etc, but they are expected to achieve the same standard, which is difficult enough when the cost of these can rise more than the inflationary precept amount allowed. However, this problem is exacerbated, because too much also has to go to the rising cost (and number) of quangos.

    Precepts requests are submitted in January, however, all of the above costs are not released until the middle to the end of March!

    Reply
    1. jerry
      May 2, 2021

      @J Bush; A more pertinent question might be; What is the point of Parish Councils, surely they are the King of all Quangos. Nothing they do could not be done at Local Council and/or County Council level and in some respect the existence of Parish Councils make residents and business access to Council services as a whole more confusing and difficult (indeed one might ever ask the same question of many a Local councils), for example non Trunk route roads are a CC responsibility, yet their cleaning and naming is a LC responsibility, but some Bus Shelters come under the responsibility of the PC.

      Reply
  12. Andy
    May 2, 2021

    How about some specific examples of current quangos which need scrapping?

    None of us want pointless bureaucracy – that’s why I reject your Brexit as it is primarily an exercise in pointless paperwork. Visas, permits, customs forms, hassles and the like.

    But being anti-quango isn’t helpful unless we can be told specifically which quangos are not needed and why. Tufton Street group the Taxpayers Alliance wrote about this a couple of years ago and struggled to identify quangos to scrap. One they suggested is the Health & Safety Executive. This is the body that looks after the safety of workplaces. Lots of people used to die at work. Now not many do because we care about workers’ safety.

    Those who argue otherwise are invariably retired – and seem very happy to risk everybody else’s lives.

    Asking which quangos you want gone is a bit like the asking a Brexitist which EU laws they wanted scrapped. You’d get something about tampons – which now cost more – something about fish – which we now can’t catch or export – and something about foreigners.

    Perhaps the quango scrapping can be done a bit better than your Brexit was? It shouldn’t be hard.

    Reply
    1. Peter2
      May 2, 2021

      You’ve had long lists of EU rules, regulations, directives and laws that now need abolishing Andy.
      Yet you keep deliberately forgetting and claiming you have never had any.
      Hilarious.

      Reply
      1. MiC
        May 3, 2021

        Well just repeat that, which for you is the worst, eh, Peter?

        Reply
        1. Peter2
          May 3, 2021

          The ones which are not needed.

          PS
          Still no apology for your recent fake news 400,000 ” unlawful” environmental discharges into rivers and the seas post, which are not unlawful under EU rules as the Guardian made clear.
          Just so you could make slur against the Conservatives.
          Go back and re read the original article on the Guardian MiC

          Reply
          1. MiC
            May 3, 2021

            So the agency issued permits to their friends in the industry, and legalised this massive disgusting pollution of our watercourses.

            The fact that Tory governance allows that to happens is FAR worse than if the acts had remained illegal.

            Thank you for pointing out the bigger outrage, Edward, sorry, Peter.

      2. Peter2
        May 3, 2021

        Wrong again Martin in Cardiff.
        First you incorrectly say this was illegal.
        When confronted you refuse to apologise.
        Even the original article in the Guardian makes it clear that there is no unlawfulness.
        The EU, as the Guardian states, allows for this to happen under the law.
        Give it up.
        Apologise.

        Reply
    2. Peter2
      May 2, 2021

      andy
      Have a look at Sakara Gold’s list of quangos ripe for closure just a little lower down this thread.

      Reply
      1. hefner
        May 3, 2021

        15 out of more than 1100, a long list, hey? And all those, because of the EU! You are either joking or do not know what you are talking about.

        Reply
        1. Peter2
          May 3, 2021

          It’s a start.
          Would you keep them all hef?

          Reply
          1. hefner
            May 3, 2021

            P2, what does it matter whether I (or you for that matter) would want to keep them or not.
            Do you really think that your multiple daily comments are going to have some effect?

          2. Peter2
            May 3, 2021

            It does matter hefner
            You first try to ridicule Sakara’s list and then avoid answering a simple question when confronted.

            I post as I wish.
            Do you think your posts have any more impact?

    3. Richard1
      May 2, 2021

      The electoral commission

      Reply
  13. rose
    May 2, 2021

    “In order to succeed you do need to identify the body, show how what it does does not need doing, or demonstrate how what it does is best done by someone else. ”

    I would like to extend this to the devocracies, particularly London, Scotland, and Wales. You showed in the case of Wales that good, uncorrupt, direct administration was better and cheaper. Councils don’t need another layer of politicians between them and HMG and nor does the electorate.

    Reply
    1. J Bush
      May 2, 2021

      These devolved assemblies are part of the EU legacy, designed to separate Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales from the rest of the UK.

      The EU intended to split England into 9 segments, but is still used by government and evidenced when you type ‘vaccine role out in England’ in a search engine.

      Why and for what purpose is the UK government still doing this?
      https://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/1430228/Covid-vaccine-map-latest-vaccination-rollout-data-April-2021-EVG

      Reply
      1. jerry
        May 2, 2021

        @J Bush; Devolution & Regionalisation was on the cards since the mid 1960s [1], long before the UK joined the EEC, when it was far from certain the UK would re-apply or be accepted. England has always been split into geographical administrative areas for political and business reasons, if I recall the original ITV regions were based upon such areas! Stop trying to blame everything you, or others (especially the MSM), dislike on the EEC/EU, all it does is devalue the real Brexit message.

        [1] certainly mentioned in the 1970 Labour Party manifesto

        Reply
  14. Bryan Harris
    May 2, 2021

    In searching for a complete list of quangos it seems there is nothing published later than 2014, when there were 288 entries.
    It has surely grown since then? So can we suspect that the government has lost count?
    https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/public-bodies-2013

    We could as suggested identify target quangos and petition for their removal based on performance and quality of service – However, we should turn this around. The government should insist that every quango provides justifications for it’s continued existence, and make evidence openly available.

    Every year the government should publish details of all new quangos they have created, and given our powers away to, along with their own full justifications for doing so — We certainly need a more direct approach for the public to have a say in where our power is dispersed.

    Reply
    1. jerry
      May 2, 2021

      Bryan, the page you cite has clearing been marked as an archived page – Duh! 😳

      “This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government”

      Reply
      1. Bryan Harris
        May 3, 2021

        Thanks for a pathetic response Jerry – I never said it was valid for this year – I was hoping JR would supply the actual list link

        Reply
        1. jerry
          May 3, 2021

          Thanks for a pathetic response Bryan…. You did not simply ask (rhetorically) for an updated link, you posted a diatribe, first suggesting “the government has lost count”, using the obviously archived page as your vehicle, sowing doubt to argue your case that Quangos are out of control.

          If all you wanted was a pointer towards the current URL everything after your first use of a question mark is spurious.

          Reply
  15. Iain Moore
    May 2, 2021

    Many of these public bodies have become the home of people who want to tear down our history, culture and society. When you see some demands to decoloise us, or accusations of us being racist, institutionally racist or what ever new racist tag they have dreamt up, you usually find us mug tax payers are funding them. In reality it is only large woke multinationals or the state who has money to burn funding these indolent people to come up ideas to create disharmony and conflict.

    PS I gather the Government has negotiated a trade deal with Japan that puts demands on both parties for women’s issues, and the same is being negotiated with NZ , which is not surprising with Jacinda Ardern there, but , come on , it is supposed to be a trade deal , about goods and services, not some social welfare arrangement.

    Reply
    1. MiC
      May 2, 2021

      No one wants to tear down our history.

      However, people like you very much appear to want to HIDE it.

      Reply
      1. Peter2
        May 2, 2021

        Rubbish MiC
        There are many examples of extreme lefties who want to tear down our history.

        Reply
        1. hefner
          May 3, 2021

          P2, ridiculous comment. History is usually a topic with very different analyses on the same events. There might be ‘right’- or ‘left’-leaning interpretations of whatever decisions were taken at a time by this or that individual or group of people, and what the environment’s influence might have been.
          Thinking that there is only one proper reading of history (mine obviously …) simply shows how intellectually limited one can be.

          Reply
          1. Peter2
            May 3, 2021

            Ridiculous comment hefner.
            MiC claimed no one wants to tear down history.
            Plainly this is nonsense.
            ER BLM and others have torn down statues already and defaced the Cenotaph and a state of SircWinston Churchill.
            Even London’s Mayor is currently forming a commission to look at removing statues and art in the capital which isn’t PC

      2. Iain Moore
        May 2, 2021

        And pulling down our statues is what exactly?

        Reply
        1. MiC
          May 2, 2021

          Criminal damage, in the SINGLE case that has happened.

          And those responsible are facing due process for that.

          But the Right want to ban the teaching of whole swathes of historical fact, and to defund NT for placing notices with such factual information about the properties under their management.

          Don’t make me laugh.

          Reply
          1. Peter2
            May 2, 2021

            Not a single case MiC
            Bristol and London
            More fake posts from you.

            It is the extreme left that wants to create silence.

          2. MiC
            May 3, 2021

            Well, I consider myself to be a moderate, a centrist and I wrote a typical reply as such…which John sees not to publish.

            So the silencing here is not coming from the Left.

          3. Peter2
            May 3, 2021

            Do you really consider yourself to be a “moderate centrist” MiC?
            Amazed.
            I think you need a period of self reflection.
            Or try one of those on line questionnaires that calculate your position on the political spectrum.

    2. rose
      May 2, 2021

      And there was I thinking Mrs Truss was too busy and fulfilled to wear her equalities hat.

      Reply
  16. Alan Jutson
    May 2, 2021

    I see it is being reported today that Boris may be thinking of investing £billions more in Scotland (to try and bribe them) to try and keep them in the Union.
    If this is true and outlines his reasoning and thinking, then no wonder government will never get to grips with the inefficient Quango’s, let alone much else.

    When will all of this wasteful spending stop ?

    Reply
    1. rose
      May 2, 2021

      It is also the wrong psychology: the more disloyal you are, the more spending you will get.

      Reply
    2. Mark B
      May 2, 2021

      They (those supposedly in charge) just don’t get it. The SNP does not want to leave, only its hardcore (Braveheart) supporters do. The rest know that the SNP is only good for one thing, fleecing the Sassenachs.

      Reply
    3. Fred.H
      May 2, 2021

      It probably won’t, certainly NOT after the next GE, too many vested interests, jobs, reputations and tasks to clarify and sever ties.

      Reply
  17. a-tracy
    May 2, 2021

    What are LEPs supposed to do?
    I think we must have zero youth unemployment because we were only sent one unsuitable applicant in a year.

    Reply
  18. hefner
    May 2, 2021

    An interesting document, last updated on 10/12/2018 on gov.uk website ‘Public bodies’ discusses under NDPBs (non-departmental public bodies) ‘things’ that look (to me at least) not so different from quangos.
    From there, a link to ‘Public bodies 2017’ gives a more recent list of NDPBs and of their expenditures (305 NDPBs, total budget of £203 bn, 273,126 staff, in 2017, and the associated ALBs (arm-length bodies (buddies?)).

    Reply
    1. Sakara Gold
      May 2, 2021

      According to 2017 figures from the Taxpayer’s Alliance, there are 988 QUANGOs operating in the UK. Collectively they spent ~ £490 billion of taxpayers money and cost roughly £170 billion in salaries, expenses and non-contributory index-linked pensions. Apparently some government departments have many QUANGOs, some big QUANGOs control several sub-QUANGOs.

      A list of them and their costs can be obtained in XL format from the .gov.uk website. Some are extremely obscure;

      Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes
      Committee on Mutagenicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment
      Senior Salaries Review Body
      Independent Reconfiguration Panel
      Investigatory Powers Tribunal
      Great Britain China Centre
      Sir John Soane’s Museum
      Marshall Aid Commemoration Commission
      Gambling Commission
      Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority
      Coal Authority
      Single Source Regulations Office
      The Pensions Regulator
      Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (who would have thought HMRC was a QUANGO? )
      British Pharmacopoeia Commission

      Collectively QUANGOS spend about a fifth of government income. Not to mention the generous non-contributory index linked final salary pensions for the highly paid incumbents, many of whose heads earn more than Secretaries of State or indeed the Prime Minister. We should scrap the lot and save the money – many would be forgiven for thinking that their prime function is to give jobs to the old boys and girls. Not too onerous mind you, only one or two days a week. Nice work if you can get it.

      Reply
      1. rose
        May 2, 2021

        Who made Sir John Soane’s little house a Quango?

        Reply
        1. Sakara Gold
          May 2, 2021

          Good question. I don’t know!

          However the house/museum is not that small, apparently it houses 30,000 architectural drawings, 300 architectural models and his collection of Old Master paintings

          Reply
          1. rose
            May 2, 2021

            It is absolutely crammed.

      2. Fred.H
        May 2, 2021

        The Single Source Regulations is a cracker. Set up to determine the profit percentage allowable where UK military procurements are not fully tenderable. Historically between 8 and 10% – it has 39 employees.
        Why not settle for 10% and sack them all?

        Reply
      3. nota#
        May 2, 2021

        @Sakara Gold, Thank you, we must keep shouting must people just don’t grasp what a rotten distortion these type of personal patronages at others expense are. If there was a need, it would be commercially available at a competitive price.

        Reply
  19. majorfrustration
    May 2, 2021

    Sir John I do hope you pick up on the frustrations expressed here. Having Reviews and “talking about it” – Quangos and Red Tape- just aint going to cut it anymore. Lets see some real action rather than political rhetoric.

    Reply
    1. Paul Cuthbertson
      May 2, 2021

      Unfortunately we do not have any one with the nous of Donald Trump, a business man, to cut regulation. However Nothing can stop what is coming,Nothing.

      Reply
      1. MiC
        May 2, 2021

        So enjoy yourself.

        It’s later than you think.

        Reply
  20. glen cullen
    May 2, 2021

    I’d suggest that government tasks, which are publically or fiscally contentious, are given quango status and run by loyal friends rather than in-house within the civil service department

    Also via the backdoor every university and local government create hundreds of sub-quangos, which are funded by the taxpayer and employ senior university staff, ex politicians and industrialists but are invisible. These agencies, groups, think-tanks, alliances, networks are unaccountable in there structure, budgets and board employments…..I know I was in one

    Are there too many ? Who knows as there isn’t a central listing on the government website which is comprehensive, complete nor accurate

    Reply
  21. William Long
    May 2, 2021

    I think you put your finger on the nub of the whole problem with Quangos in your highlighting of the failure of Ministers to intervene in the Post Office scandal. The problem is not Quangos per se, but lack of proper control of them, both specifically by the responsible departmental Minister, and also as a whole: as you say, there are far too many of them. Someone should have overarching responsibility for monitoring whether any Quango is really necessary, or has outlived any usefulness it may once have had, and they should begin their task with the review you suggest.
    In particular, Ministers should not be allowed to forget that the ‘Q’ is the most important letter of the acronym: they are ‘Quasi Autonomous’, not ‘Autonomous’. The Minister remains responsible and is the person who should resign, or be sacked, if one of his departmental Quangos makes a mess of things, rather as happens in real life, using the existence of the Quango as an excuse not to resign.

    Reply
    1. Fred.H
      May 3, 2021

      The art of modern Government seems to be ensuring expertise in always having a fall-guy, quango, department, scientist, other country, political party, or media stirred woke ‘movement’ to blame.
      Sloping shoulders.

      Reply
      1. Fred.H
        May 3, 2021

        You won’t find ‘The buck stops here’ anywhere.

        Reply
  22. Pperrin
    May 2, 2021

    Your observation on LEP’s just proves that abolition is needed. As long as government can have quangos, it will find a way of using them to frustrate any attempt at real change.

    You cite ‘good ministers…’ but we have none. As long as candidates for parliament are selected by party machines, then whichever are elected as MPs will be of too poor a quality to be ‘good ministers’ many fail to even be good MPs.

    You once recognised that the EU was beyond reform – hopefully you will eventually realise that Westminster is too.

    Reply
  23. DOM
    May 2, 2021

    When a so called Tory PM takes prominent advice from an ex-Communist whatever an ex-Communist is then you can be sure that Johnson’s aim is not to reduce the size, power and interventionist style of the State and sub-State but to expand it massively

    SAGE for example is another sinister Quango out of control and one that takes its direction and remit from a politics based on oppression, imposition, fear, threat and psychological warfare using any and all forms of Marxist ideological strategy.

    And now we have this so called Tory PM attacking not just our freedom to voice opinion but our freedom on the internet. It cannot get any worse but then just when it cannot it does.

    We have being herded, corralled and intimated like cattle ID, tracking and limitations on access to public services and other necessities of life limited to impose compliance

    I don’t understand how any moral MP, certainly not a Tory MP, can sit back, silent and believe this is acceptable

    Reply
  24. Derek Henry
    May 2, 2021

    Morning John,

    “Homes for sale and the provision of new factories, warehouses, offices and other commercial space was best left to the private sector. The public sector involvement should be confined to the local Planning Authorities over land use .”

    Not really – the pandemic and the steel industry shows when it comes to strategic industries they should be in the public sector.

    How the private sector funds the other ones has become a real problem. The commercial bank strategy was very clear. If they privatise the economy, they can turn the whole public sector into a monopoly. They can treat what used to be the government sector as a financial monopoly.

    They clamour for a balanced budget, saying, We don’t want the government to fund public infrastructure. We want it to be privatised in a way that will generate profits for the new owners, along with interest for the bondholders and the banks that fund it; and also, management fees. Most of all, the privatised enterprises should generate capital gains for the stockholders as they jack up prices for the public services.

    We’ve all seen and experienced rising prices for public services because the competition and monopolies commission is not fit for purpose.

    The problem interfering with the circular flow between producers and consumers (“Say’s Law”) is not “saving” as such. It is debt payment to the economic rent seekers. Which is never addressed or even talked about.

    As for point 2,3 and 4 see answer for your first point.

    The commercial banks have become million times more powerful than the unions ever was. We’ve tried that economic model loading the private sector with debt 2008 shows it does not work.

    Reply
  25. nota#
    May 2, 2021

    Sir John – the point seemingly missed is that anything that directly results in compulsory money being taken from some one, is a tax. All those in receipt of taxes in a Democracy have to be answerable directly via the ballot box.

    The idea that a body can be set up with our money on a whim of Government and then the Government of the day says ‘not me Guv’. “We need a public review to analyses(delay) any removal” is beyond belief.

    The point of democracy is it is that ‘we the People decide and have the options’ otherwise which ever way you look at it is then a Dictatorship. Most of us are still smarting form the simple betrayal of the Brexit referendum, we wanted out to become a Free Sovereign Democracy. The EU still rules, they have our fish, they have split NI from the UK and while we have to agree to accept their trade they will not reciprocate.

    Today in the MsM we get what is said to be the PM Virtual Signaling once more in the UK is to get a new Royal Yacht. We don’t even now have a Royal Navy, enough ships to carry out our obligations let alone the personnel to man them if the did turn up, and the PM wants a Royal Yacht – I guess that would mean stealing people to man from doing a proper job.

    What about the Economy, when is that going to be addressed. get that right and we can pay for some of this Virtual Signaling

    Reply
    1. Fred.H
      May 2, 2021

      ‘The point of democracy is it is that ‘we the People decide or else’ ?
      Really? Democracy in action – – doesn’t feel much like it.
      However the GE can be used to carry out 3 strikes and you are out…..Cameron. May, Johnson.
      Cast your eyes about and suggest a new PM that will do what the People want!
      Tough ask, isn’t it?

      Reply
      1. glen cullen
        May 2, 2021

        nigh on impossible

        Reply
    2. The Prangwizard
      May 2, 2021

      A RN task force sailed from Portsmouth yesterday. HMS Queen Elizabeth, 2 destroyers and a frigate, to be joined by others on the way to the South China sea. Not sure if these others are ours or not.

      There were 250 US Marine Corps troops and more US aircraft on QE than our own. Clearly we have no Navy and the platforms we have are clearly under the orders of the US.

      This is a total humiliation. Does ‘Boris’ and the Tories care? No. They love it. Surrender to the EU and surrender to the US. That’s what they do.

      Reply
    3. X-Tory
      May 2, 2021

      A new Royal Yacht is a good idea and can be quite an effective way of promoting diplomatic influence.

      What bothers me greatly is the report that this had to be classified as a military vessel or else it could not be guaranteed that it would be built in the UK, as it would have to go to internatonal tender. This is madness!!! This means we have still NOT taken back control of our government spending rules, and cannot choose to stipulate that only a UK company – or UK-based, at least – can tender. If true this is yet another Boris Betrayal!

      Reply
      1. Fred.H
        May 2, 2021

        yet another waste of money, or will it be fitted with rocket launchers, machine guns, flares, depth charges and torpedoes?

        Reply
      2. glen cullen
        May 2, 2021

        EU level playing field = UK have to follow EU rules

        Reply
    4. agricola
      May 2, 2021

      Nota I think you mean virtue signaling and as such a new royal yacht, manned by the Royal Navy, could be used for virtuous purposes.
      Consider it moored near the Gate to India, in what I knew as Bombay, refilling oxygen bottles and distributing vaccine and essential drugs in Indias fight against Covid.
      Think of it wherever required in the World as a base to promote the UK post Brexit. An invitation to it would have more impact than any hotel or embassy.
      Then it could be a travelling link between the UK and the Commonwealth or any other nation we were fostering relations with , which is where a member of the Royal Family could add icing to the cake.
      On balance I would consider it a better investment than many of governments recent virtue signals, and more impact than Air Force One. I would also consider it an appropriate acknowledgement of the service given to the UK by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh. In fact I would name it after him. Get your collective fingers out, as he might add.

      Reply
  26. glen cullen
    May 2, 2021

    BBC Kent reporting – Home Office figures
    On Wednesday 209 people, the largest number in a single day so far in 2021, were intercepted by officials.
    On Friday it said 104 people in four small boats had crossed.

    The ‘Stop The Illegal Crossing’ quango isn’t fit for purpose

    Reply
  27. The Prangwizard
    May 2, 2021

    ‘It would be good to persuade Ministers…….’.

    Is that a committee? If so, nothing will be decided other than the setting up of a series of sub-committees which would produce lengthy reports which would be put to the bottom of the ‘in’ tray – permanently.

    We need each individual Minister to be required to decide within three months, and to be accountable and to report to parliament, on which quango under their control will be the first to be disbanded and irreversible actions taken to achieve it. Then, the same process for the next.

    Reply
  28. hefner
    May 2, 2021

    The really funny thing in this discussion about quangos is that a non negligible of contributors on this blog consider quangos to be made of essentially (to simplify) ‘leftists’.

    There are obviously some of these quangos that answer that characterisation. But there are also an awful lot of them made of ‘busy bodies’ who might have started at the local level, have then possibly moved higher up, possibly even been elected as part and parcel of one or another of the big parties, moved to something different once ‘unelected’ (advisors to this or that business comes to mind), then pontificate for a number of years in one of these quangos/NDPBs/think tanks.

    And here I would not be too sure that the balance right-wing/left-wing always is so obviously sloping on the left side, despite the hot heads denouncing a ‘communist take-over’ of the state and affiliate groups.

    Reply
    1. Peter2
      May 2, 2021

      I’ve read posts on this thread and cannot find examples of your claim Hefner.
      Are you joining MiC with your version of fake news?

      Reply
      1. MiC
        May 3, 2021

        We would appear to have a replacement for “Edward2”, and of similar intellectual stature.

        Reply
        1. Peter2
          May 3, 2021

          MiC
          It was a straightforward response to Hefner’s post.
          He claimed posts on this subject were saying quangos were full of leftists.
          I read through them and very few, if any were.
          Most complaints were about costs and the unnecessary bureaucracy they created.
          PS
          Still no apology for your recent fake news post MiC

          Reply
        2. Peter2
          May 3, 2021

          MiC
          You certainly have a nerve to criticise my “intellectual stature” when you read a Guardian article then misinterpret it and make erroneous claims about unlawfulness and then compound your error by using your false conclusions to make a cheap slur against both the Environmental Agency and the Conservative Party.
          And then you refuse to acknowledge your dreadful error nor decide to do the decent thing and apologise.
          It all says far more about your intellectual stature than it does about mine.

          Reply
        3. hefner
          May 3, 2021

          P2, could you, to start with, just count how many times you have written ‘extreme left’ these last few days.

          Reply
          1. Peter2
            May 3, 2021

            How about you counting how many posts you have injected into yourself hefner.

            You are terribly intelligent so go back and count.

    2. rose
      May 2, 2021

      David Cameron did make a Conservative appointment: William Shawcross to the Charity Commission (now retired). Can you remind me who the others are? We can’t count Toby Young or Roger Scruton because they were both sacked at the first whiff of left wing disapproval.

      Reply
  29. X-Tory
    May 2, 2021

    This is an interesting discussion about quangos, but my disagreement is over two points:

    1. You say: “In order to succeed you do need to identify the body, show how what it does does not need doing, or demonstrate how what it does is best done by someone else”. Actually, I think the REVERSE should apply. Rather than having to justify getting rid of the quango, the onus should be on the quango to justify its existence, with the default expectation being that the tasks will be either taken in-house or just abolished. How about setting up an independent review (by, for instance, the IEA, or the TaxPayers’ Alliance) and get them to advise on this.

    2. I strongly object to your belief that ministers should NOT have day-to-day control over quangos and their decisions. Quangos are public bodies, and democratic accountability to the public demands that the public – through their elected representatives – SHOULD have complete CONTROL over all quangos and all their decisions. Frankly I find it incomprehensible that politicians would go to all the trouble of getting elected and into ministerial office and would then be happy to emasculate themselves by losing control over decisions made within the remit of their responsibilities.

    The reason why the ‘Take Back Control’ message was so powerful and effective is because the people feel that they have LOST control over the decisions that affect them. We want MORE control, and that means that ALL decisions should be made by politicians we can lobby (via our MPs) and kick out if we are not happy with their response. Quangos evade that and allow ministers to say that these decisions are made independently and they cannot interfere. NO – we WANT you to interfere and TAKE CONTROL.

    Reply There is a case to take full control. In these cases the Board and CEO should be made redundant, the body and its overhead wound up and the activity run direct from the Department.

    Reply
    1. Fred.H
      May 3, 2021

      reply to reply……Go to it – let us see it happening!

      Reply
  30. Denis Cooper
    May 2, 2021

    Off topic, here is a brief letter I have just sent to our local newspaper, the Maidenhead Advertiser:

    “I am sorry if James Aidan or anyone else was “baffled” by my last letter, and I shall certainly endeavour to write with greater clarity in the future.

    Mr Aidan pointed out in his letter of April 29 that some people seek the dissolution of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

    But I suggest that we should not expect to find too many of them in the ranks of the Tory party.

    To quote our own Tory MP Theresa May speaking in July 2016, after the Queen had asked her to take over from David Cameron:

    “Not everybody knows this, but the full title of my party is the Conservative and Unionist Party and that word unionist is very important to me”

    “It means we believe in the union, the precious, precious bond between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.”

    So I dare say that she, and many other local Tories, will be keen to support the forthcoming legal challenge to Boris Johnson’s revised Irish protocol, which it is alleged “breaches the Act of Union 1800, the Northern Ireland Act 1998, the Belfast Agreement and indeed the Article 50 process”.

    The first hearing will start in Belfast High Court on May 13th, and the case will most likely end up in the UK Supreme Court.

    Full details may easily be found by googling for the phrase “Defending the Union of the UK”, and committed unionists of all parties and all parts of the UK may wish to assist on the “David” side of this “David and Goliath” struggle.”

    Reply
    1. rose
      May 2, 2021

      What are the odds on our remainiac judges jumping the wrong way?

      Reply
      1. MiC
        May 2, 2021

        The Courts are not allowed to take any position contrary to the decisions of Parliament.

        Parliament voted for the Withdrawal Agreement.

        So if the Government’s actions are in accordance with that, then they are legal.

        Reply
        1. Peter2
          May 2, 2021

          Nonsense MiC
          The Supreme Court has often given judgements which tell Parliament to think again.
          Or change the law.

          Reply
          1. Denis Cooper
            May 3, 2021

            Correct.

            As the supreme legal authority for the UK the UK Parliament undoubtedly has the power to enact legislation which may endanger the integrity of the UK but if it wishes to do that then it should make its intention very clear, dissolution of the UK should not be the inadvertent consequence of rushed and poorly scrutinised Acts.

          2. MiC
            May 3, 2021

            Interesting – give an example, please, Peter.

          3. MiC
            May 3, 2021

            It is agreed by all legal authorities in the UK that:

            The doctrine of parliamentary supremacy may be summarized in three points:

            Parliament can make laws concerning anything.

            No Parliament can bind a future parliament (that is, it cannot pass a law that cannot be changed or reversed by a future Parliament).

            A valid Act of Parliament cannot be questioned by the court. Parliament is the supreme lawmaker.

            What dear Peter seems to be confused about is that where Parliament does not like a ruling by the Court – the common law that is – it may decide it necessary to pass an Act to override it by Statute.

          4. MiC
            May 3, 2021

            Why does John repeatedly publish comments – without remark – which completely contradict and misrepresent the absolute founding principle of the UK Constitution and of the Rule Of Law in these jurisdictions?

            Is it because his party benefit from such widespread and lamentable ignorance?

          5. Denis Cooper
            May 3, 2021

            Why not start with:

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R_(Factortame_Ltd)_v_Secretary_of_State_for_Transport

            which case was “the first time that courts held that they had power to restrain the application of an Act of Parliament pending trial and ultimately to disapply that Act when it was found to be contrary to EU law.”

            And then go on to:

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thoburn_v_Sunderland_City_Council

            “Though the earlier Factortame had also referred to Parliament’s voluntary acceptance of the supremacy of EU law, Thoburn put less stress on the jurisprudence of the ECJ and more on the domestic acceptance of such supremacy; Lord Justice Laws suggested there was a hierarchy of “constitutional statutes” that Parliament could only expressly repeal, and so were immune from implied repeal.”

            With this as a summary:

            https://www.legalcheek.com/lc-journal-posts/constitutional-statutes-a-brief-overview/

            “Bolton University academic John McGarry explains the distinction between ordinary and constitutional statutes”

            “Sir John’s statement that constitutional statutes cannot be impliedly repealed — that they may only be expressly repealed — was novel … ”

            “Yet, while Laws LJ’s claim was novel, it did not come out of the blue. It coincided with the way the courts had acted with regard to European Union (EU) law: that they would disapply Acts of Parliament which conflicted with EU law. This was the basis of the famous Factortame case where the House of Lords set aside provisions of the Merchant Shipping Act 1988 because they conflicted with EU law.”

          6. Peter2
            May 3, 2021

            MiC
            Which is what I said.
            You are getting rather confused in your own lefty logic.

          7. Peter2
            May 3, 2021

            Thank you Denis for your excellent post.
            You are certainly a person with great intellectual stature.

          8. MiC
            May 3, 2021

            If you perhaps understood those cases then you would see that they do not contradict anything that I quote from the legal authorities.

            For instance, there is a general legal principle that a person is entitled to rely upon the law as it is at the relevant time.

            If an Act were to operate retrospectively or quasi-retrospectively unintentionally, then the Court might well disapply it.

            That is not controversial.

            And international treaties – all of them, not just with the European Union – are historically accepted as special cases.

            In no such case does the Court have any power to compel or to sanction Parliament, but merely to give its opinion anyway.

            Give it up, you’re clutching at straws.

          9. Peter2
            May 4, 2021

            Straws eh
            Ask Gina Miller.

        2. Denis Cooper
          May 4, 2021

          There’s nothing to give up, the case will be heard and the High Court will give its decision, and one way or the other it will probably go to the Supreme Court – not to you, MiC, but to the UK Supreme Court – and those judges will decide what should be done. Which could be, for example, to suspend the application of the Acts of Parliament which allowed the government to put in instruments of ratification for the new treaties with the EU until Parliament has passed a new Act making it clear that it intended to infringe those constitutional laws and potentially break up the UK. It would only need to be a short Act just for that purpose, rather like the short Act that the court deemed was needed just to authorise Theresa May to put in the Article 50 notice that the UK intended to leave the EU. Then we might see how many MPs and peers really intended put the integrity of the UK at risk when they voted for the previous Acts, and how many of them had been led astray by Boris Johnson and would not have voted as he wanted if they had known the truth.

          Reply
        3. Denis Cooper
          May 4, 2021

          Here is Boris Johnson answering a question from Sir Jeffrey Donaldson on Wednesday 22 January 2020, Column 302 here:

          https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2020-01-22/debates/6B6FAD67-CA8C-4AF2-9CC9-07F6175ABC4C/Engagements#

          Sir Jeffrey M. Donaldson (Lagan Valley) (DUP):

          “As we approach the moment when we will leave the European Union, the Prime Minister will be aware of concerns in Northern Ireland. We welcome his assurance that there will continue to be unfettered access for Northern Ireland businesses to the UK single market, but does that commitment also apply to goods moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland?”

          The Prime Minister:

          “Emphatically it does.”

          Reply
  31. rose
    May 2, 2021

    https://newplanforimmigration.com/en/

    People might like to take part in the Home Secretary’s consultation on her proposed immigration reforms.

    Reply
    1. glen cullen
      May 3, 2021

      I’d suggest that this public consultation is to delay and deflect, now ministers can say when asked ‘why haven’t we sent the illegal immigrant crossing the channel back to France’ ? ….’new arrangements are under consultation’ – job done

      Reply
  32. Julian Flood
    May 2, 2021

    Sir John, I very much agree with your reservations about LEPs. Our county Leader of the Council was asked if he would report on a LEP meeting – he was the democratic representative. He stood up, said no and sat down looking smug.
    On another matter, perhaps you might ask Steven Barclay what happened to the Greater Cambridgeshire Greater Peterborough LEP. I can’t find it.

    JF

    Reply
  33. Dodgy Geezer
    May 2, 2021

    There have been many attempts to cut back on government bureaucracy. ALL have failed. I cannot see how a little fiddling round the edges will help – indeed, ‘Yes, Minister’ have a great illustration of how the Civil Service can turn a cost cutting exercise into a justification for increased staff…

    The problem is the infantilisation of our society. People are happier to live a cosseted life in compliance with a bureaucracy which controls the totality of their lives, rather than take responsibility and risk by making their own decisions. Unless this changes, government will continue to expand, and a HUGE regulatory sector will emerge, with more and more overseers and fewer actual wealth creators…

    Reply
  34. Lindsay McDougall
    May 2, 2021

    So Post Office Counters Ltd – but not the Royal Mail – is 100% owned by tax payers. Is it making money i.e. a profit? If not, what steps is the Government taking to make it profitable?

    Reply
    1. MiC
      May 3, 2021

      The Army are 100% owned by the taxpayers too.

      Why don’t you ask the same question about them, Lindsey?

      Reply
      1. Peter2
        May 3, 2021

        The Army isn’t a commercial enterprise so your comparison is not valid MiC
        Have another go.

        Reply

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