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Countryside quangos: the bonfire grows

[Monday 26 July 2010]

Yet more countryside quangos are being added to the bonfire promised by the Coalition government as the new Defra Secretary Caroline Spelman takes their duties back into the heart of her department.

Mrs Spelman, the first person in her job with a detailed farming and countryside background, declared at the weekend that Defra had no fewer than 90 “arm’s length” bodies reporting to it – the new euphemism for quangos – and she was determined to reform at least 30 of them.

Some will be scrapped, other will lose Government funding. Actions include:

  • Withdrawing Defra funding from the Sustainable Development Commission
  • Abolishing the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution
  • Abolishing the Agricultural Wages Board, the fifteen Agricultural Wages Committees, the sixteen Agricultural Dwelling House Advisory Committees and the Committee on Agricultural Valuation
  • Abolishing the Inland Waterways Advisory Council
  • Abolishing the Commons Commissioners.

In one of the most outspoken attacks yet on the quango culture encouraged and expanded by New Labour, she said boldly:

“This Government is committed to being the greenest Government ever and the Structural Reform Plan published last week sets out how Defra will play its part in achieving this. Reducing the deficit is priority for the Government and all departments are playing their part in making efficiency savings.

“Together with Chris Huhne (her Lib-Dem partner) I am determined to play the lead role in driving the sustainability agenda across the whole of government and I am not willing to delegate this responsibility to an external body. “

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