Streamlining the quango state


This report from UK think tank the Adam Smith Institute looks at making the case for reforming the administrative state.

This latest paper, by Senior Fellow Tim Ambler, makes the case for reforming the administrative state: Westminster governments have festooned themselves with public bodies, collectively barnacles on the ship of state. To govern well, the executive of a government (the Cabinet and ministers) should focus on governing and not be side-tracked by other functions. The Public Administration Select Committee and the National Audit Office have complained of the lack of any clear taxonomy of these “arm’s length bodies” (ALBs). Such quangos remain unaccountable and ineffective, while draining huge amounts of taxpayer funds. It is not entirely clear which branch of government ALBs belong to, nor to whom they are ultimately accountable. The key point is that bodies should be clearly classifed as either part of the executive or independent thereof and accountable to Parliament. There have been previous attempts to cull quangos, but 201 remain. This paper presents a vision for how to reorganise this quagmire. If the Government wished to act on it, further detailed work would be required.

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