HC Deb 04 April 1984 vol 57 cc950-1
6. Mr. Chope

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he will make a statement on Government policy towards quasi-autonomous local government organisations.

Sir George Young

Local authorities are answerable to their electorates for their participation in other bodies. I hope that such participation is the subject of regular and rigorous reassessment, although that is a matter for local people themselves.

Mr. Chope

Has my hon. Friend had an opportunity to read the report issued last week by the Adam Smith institute called "The Qualgo Complex", and has he noted that the report shows that about 60,000 appointments are being made to 25,000 quangos each year at a cost to ratepayers of about £40 million? Is it not time that the Government intervened to stop this local authority gravy train?

Sir George Young

I have acquired a copy of the report, although the institute did not send me a complimentary one. I have not had time to read it carefully, but in the first instance I should wish to hear the views of those in local government to assess their reaction to the report.

Mr. Tony Banks

Since we are talking about quangos, will the Minister inform the House when was the last time that direct elections were scrapped for a body that would continue in existence after the elections? When was the directly elected body substitued by indirectly elected——

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman is going rather wide of the question.

Mr. Banks

No, Sir. If I may come on to the question, when was a directly elected local authority body substituted by indirectly elected quangos and joint boards and the political control of that body changed?

Sir George Young

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State dealt adequately with that question a few moments ago.

Mr. Stokes

Is my hon. Friend aware that those of us who are most keen for the metropolitan districts to be abolished are equally keen that they should not be replaced by a plethora of new quangos?

Sir George Young

My hon. Friend must await our detailed proposals on the White Paper "Streamlining the Cities" before he can comment exactly on what we have suggested.

Mr. Straw

Is it not true that under the so-called "Streamlining the Cities" White Paper there will be an enormous increase in quangos? How many joint boards, appointed bodies and other quangos will be established if the abolition legislation goes through?

Sir George Young

We have a number of questions on the Order Paper about abolition, on which it will be appropriate to deal with these particular points. The Government are, however, considering the responses to the White Paper "Streamlining the Cities" and we shall publish our proposals in due course.