The reformation and scrapping of many of the quasi-autonomous non-governmental organisations (quangos) was one of the Conservative Party’s promises from the election campaign. Some of the quangos can clearly be moved to other departments, such as West Northamptonshire Development Corporation, which is to be placed under local authority control. I can also understand selling off the Horserace Totalisator Board and getting rid of the Government Hospitality Advisory Committee on the purchase of Wines. The majority of the quangos are also likely to be saved it seems, such as the BBC, Channel 4 (apparently the government has some control due to it sharing the licence fee), the Ordnance Survey, and the Administration of Radioactive Substances Advisory Committee.
However, some of the quangos that are to be scrapped entirely does concern me. According to the BBC News article on the subject, Franics Maude MP, the minister in charge of the review, said that the review intended to improve accountability as well as saving money. The quangos that I’ve listed here are to be scrapped entirely, i.e. no mergers, no moving functions to another department or organisation, or even making them into charities, just a complete end to their work. I consider these quangos to all have some important function in our country: the Audit Commission, the Standards Board for England, the National Tenant Voice, and even the UK Chemical Weapons Convention National Authority Advisory Committee. The Audit Commission is supposed to scrutinize all areas of public spending, so while it may cost a large amount to run, it should also save a lot more money as well. I fail to see how this is increasing accountability.
When some quangos such as the British Wool Marketing Board and the Advisory Committee on Packaging are kept in some form or other and those previously mentioned are to be scrapped, I get quite worried about the Coalition’s priorities for this country. While some of these quangos to be scrapped do cost money to run, I feel that some of the quangos are more important to public life and provide necessary services and better value for money than others, and yet they are scrapped at the expense of less important ones.
This article is based on the UK Government’s list of the quasi-autonomous non-governmental organisations, some of which will be transferred to or merged with other government-run organisations, while some are to be scrapped. Here’s the link to the document that was the latest at the time of writing.