Thursday, October 14, 2010

Do they really know what they are doing?

'Speaking in Parliament, Mr Byrne said he backed the idea of cutting the number of quangos, a process he said the previous Labour government had set in motion.

But he accused the government of changing its argument over why they should be axed when it became clear that costs associated with closing them would not lead to any savings and could cost money.

He dubbed Mr Maude "the most expensive butcher in the country".

He said: "Labour had a plan for steadily saving £0.5bn by carefully closing 25% of quangos over the next few years.

"The Tories now need to tell us whether their desperation for headlines and faster cuts means the cost of closing quangos is actually bigger than the savings. And while they're at it, they should tell us whether their manifesto commitment for 20 new quangos is now on ice." '

QUANGOs are and were a very useful way of expanding government and regulation without giving the appearance of doing so. That is why I hate them. And want to see them done away with.

But for the second time in a few weeks, I find myself agreeing with Labour. I feel dirty, but it's true. Francis Maude, the Coalition minister in charge of getting rid of the QUANGOs, said this:

"What people find so irritating is the sense that there is this huge amount of activity incontinently set up, much of it by the last government, by bodies which are not in any way accountable - no one can be held accountable for what they do and that is what we are seeking to change," he told MPs.

Really, that is the main reason for getting rid of QUANGOs?

I'm sorry, when you are spending £135 BILLION a year you don't have, trivial questions of non-accountability are as chaff in the wind. When we have national expenditure at or below national income, we'll get back to precious arguments about whether a QUANGO can be held accountable or not.

The trouble with the Labour criticisms is that the current coalition already have a track record in grandstanding while actually not following through on the meaty substance. Just like with the Child Benefit nonsense, where Labour pointed out that for all the damage caused, only a billion pounds will be saved, out of a total benefits budget of about three hundred billion. And not only that, if the losers from the Child Benefit means testing get a tax rebate to compensate, the exchequer may actually be WORSE OFF.

My faith in the competence of the Coalition is being sorely tested.

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