MPs say bonfire of the quangos is a damp squib

 

The Coalition's much heralded "bonfire of the quangos" was a "botched" operation that will neither increase ministerial accountability nor deliver large financial savings, a Tory-led committee of MPs has concluded.

In a highly critical report, the Public Administration Committee said the Conservatives' pre-election promises to cut the costly bureaucracy of quangos had created "false expectations".

It concluded that the process to abolish 192 quangos and merge 118 more was rushed and there was no "coherent and consistent process" for deciding which should stay and which should go.

Last night sources close to the Cabinet Office Secretary Francis Maude suggested the committee had "misunderstood" what the Government was trying to achieve and had been "taken in" by the quango chairmen who gave evidence to them.

But Bernard Jenkin, the chairman of the committee, responded by saying it had been "very difficult" to understand what the Government was trying to do in the process that was announced in October.

"The whole process was rushed and poorly handled and should have been thought through a lot more," he said. "This was a fantastic opportunity to help build the Big Society and save money, but it has been botched."

The Public Administration Committee's inquiry found that there was no meaningful consultation with those bodies likely to be affected before decisions on abolition were made.

But Mr Maude said: "The process from the beginning was clear, which is why we were able to move so quickly. Departments assessed their public bodies against strict criteria."

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