Parliament and Politics: Labour to end boycott of trusts and TECs

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LABOUR yesterday rescinded advice to party members to refuse appointments to boards of health authorities, NHS trusts, Training and Enterprise Councils and other Conservative-created quangos.

The decision was seen as a recognition of political reality as most hospitals will be trusts and there are likely to be many more opted- out schools by the next election.

The party had boycotted many such quangos - although a few Labour members do sit on them - because they replaced elected or partially elected bodies with appointees. The party's argument that such quangos are increasingly dominated by narrow business interests and Conservative appointees has been weakened by the decision not to participate, and Labour sources admit the party can 'no longer ignore their existence'.

The decision was approved at a meeting of Labour's national executive which saw continuing division over the party's restructuring. Some NEC members remained angry last night over sharp cuts in the party's research department as part of a 25 per cent reduction to 90 in headquarters jobs. One researcher will now handle health, education, housing and other social policy briefs. Conferences other than the annual conference will be held every two years in future.

The party's MPs and Euro-MPs are to be consulted on unloved plans to double or treble the 1 per cent levy for party funds on their salaries to help resolve Labour's financial crisis, while the possibility of a levy on 'rich' members is being explored.