HC Deb 02 May 2001 vol 367 cc838-9
5. Mr. Bob Russell (Colchester)

If she will make a statement on the extent to which quangos are being replaced by democratically elected bodies. [159099]

The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office (Mr. Graham Stringer)

Responsibility for 300 public bodies has been transferred to the newly elected Chambers in Belfast, Edinburgh, London and Cardiff.

Mr. Russell

I wonder whether the Minister can say whether any quangos were involved in the Wembley fiasco. Many of us were expecting a Labour Government to roll back the quangoland of the Conservatives. Why is new Labour so opposed to democratic control over the police, schools, hospitals and local colleges?

Mr. Stringer

I can tell the hon. Gentleman that, for example, the Funding Agency for Schools has been transferred back to local authorities. That body had an expenditure of nearly £2 billion. However, if he wants to trade figures, 41 executive non-departmental bodies, 125 non-executive bodies, 16 tribunals and one board of visitors have been transferred. It means that, in net terms, although some have been created and some merged, there are 10 per cent. fewer quangos than when the Government came to office.

Mrs. Louise Ellman (Liverpool, Riverside)

What recommendations would my hon. Friend make in giving powers to regional chambers, so that they could bring accountability to regional quangos before we have directly elected regional authorities? When does he anticipate that they will come into being in England?

Mr. Stringer

It is Government policy to give the electorates in the different regions the opportunity to decide whether they elect regional assemblies. When such assemblies are elected—if the electorates so choose—they will have a transparent relationship with many of the existing regional public bodies.

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