Friday, 15 October 2010

A bonfire of quangos?

As has been noted before on this blog, the key questions to be asked about quangos are: (i) one should the function be performed by government and (ii) should it then be performed by a central department?

As it turns out ministers have discovered that many of the functions performed by quangos are required. Many of them will disappear into central government departments. But whether they will be performed in a more transparent or accountable way there is a genuinely open question.

Many of the quangos that have been retained in their present form have been justified on the grounds that they are 'performing a technical function which should remain independent of government'. Quite.

Others have been re-constituted as departmental expert committees. Consider the Pesticide Residues Committee of which some fun was made on Radio 5 yesterday. It exists because consumers are concerned about toxic pesticide residues on food. These are monitored and the committee supervises this system. So the task is a necessary one and making it an expert committee is hardly going to save any money.


Shankar Jayaram said...

Hi Wyn,

Do you think that cutting quangos is a strategy that appeals to central government bureaucrats, as incorporating the functions provided by quangos makes them more indispensable at a time of general uncertainty for many bureaucrats?

Wyn Grant said...

In some respects they are happy to farm out awkward or repetitive tasks elsewhere, but they may like to re-claim some of their turf.