Whitehall prepares for drastic cull of the quangocrats

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Hundreds of quangocrats face extinction under proposals to be outlined this week by the Government, writes Stephen Castle.

A Green Paper launched on Tuesday will call on ministers to review the quangos for which they are responsible, merging or abolishing them where possible.

The document, which will be championed by David Clark, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, is designed to keep the number of quangos to a minimum. It will also propose five-yearly reviews of quangos to establish whether they are still necessary.

In opposition, the Labour Party attacked the growth of quasi-autonomous non-governmental organisations during the past decade, arguing that unaccountable institutions run by political appointees were replacing democratic structures. At present, quangos account for an annual expenditure of pounds 18bn - equivalent to 6 per cent of government spending.

Mr Clark's consultative paper is designed to feed into a White Paper on better government, due early next year. However, critics will point out that this week's document will not commit the Government to any specific reduction in the number of quangos. That makes it impossible to estimate how many staff will go.