End of the blame game: Tories to sack ministers for failings of quangos

Cameron pledges to make politicians responsible for tough decisions again

Ministers in a future Tory government will be sacked if quangos under their control are found to be failing, as part of a plan to tackle the huge cost and lack of accountability of the public bodies.

In a speech detailing his intention to slash the number of quangos, or "quasi-autonomous non-governmental organisations", and publish the salaries of their highly paid bosses, David Cameron said ministers would no longer be able to hide behind quangos' "cloak of independence".

Taxpayers were forced to shell out £34.5bn on major quangos last year, up 12 per cent on the previous year. Senior Tories suspect the rise has been fuelled by Labour's attempts to use the bodies to insulate it from unpopular decisions. All members of the Shadow Cabinet have been ordered to examine which quangos could be cut down or axed altogether. "Even when power is delegated to a quango, with a Conservative government, the minister will remain responsible for the outcomes," said Mr Cameron. "They set the rules under which the quango operates. And they have the power to ensure those operating the quango are qualified to do the job."

The Tory leader pledged to scrap the Qualifications and Curriculum Development Agency (QCDA), responsible for developing the national curriculum. He said its decisions placed it "at the heart of political debate and public controversy".

Michael Gove, the shadow Schools Secretary, blames the agency for the controversial decision not to make children learn about important events in British history. "Responsibility for the national curriculum should be brought back into the Department for Children, Schools and Families, so accountable politicians can directly enact the promises they make," Mr Cameron said.

However, the Tory leader provoked an angry response from Ofcom, Britain's telecoms industry regulator, after saying it would "cease to exist" in its present form if he won the next election. The shadow Culture Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has been unhappy that Ofcom had a major say in the future of regional TV news and Channel 4. A spokesman for Ofcom said the regulator had saved the public more than £117m over five years as a result of merging five regulators in 2004. The Culture Secretary, Ben Bradshaw, said Mr Cameron had misunderstood Ofcom's role, which was to advise.

Both Labour and the Tories see slashing quangos as a way to make "acceptable" spending cuts, although government sources said the rise in spending on quangos was a sign of greater investment in public services as well as the cost of planning for the 2012 Olympics. Senior Labour figures accused the Tories of misleading the public, claiming they had promised to create 17 new public bodies should they win the next election. Liam Byrne, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, said he had already ordered a review of the public bodies.

Fall guys? They took a bullet for the boss

*Ken Boston, former head of the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA), resigned after the breakdown of last year's Sats tests. However, he later accused the Schools Secretary, Ed Balls, of failing to admit the Government's role in the failure.

*Mark Haysom, the former head of the Learning and Skills Council, stepped down in March after high-profile school building plans ground to a halt.

*Derek Lewis, former boss of the British Prison Service, was sacked by the then-home secretary Michael Howard after a scandal in 1995.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
voices
News
general electionThis quiz matches undecided voters with the best party for them
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen starred in the big screen adaptation of Austen's novel in 2005
tvStar says studios are forcing actors to get buff for period roles
News
science
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

£40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

Ashdown Group: Part-time Payroll Officer - Yorkshire - Professional Services

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful professional services firm is lo...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before