Tory peer calls for greater scrutiny of quangos by parliament

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Tory peer calls for greater scrutiny of quangos by parliament
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The number of quangos is steadily growing under Boris Johnson’s government and should be more accountable to parliament, according to a new report.

A report by Tory peer Lord Andrew Tyrie is calling for an “oversight panel” that would hand parliamentary committees the “tools and expertise” to scrutinise quangos.

A recent report by Westminster’s Public Accounts Committee claimed George Osborne’s so-called “bonfire of the quangos” in 2010 has been a failure, with spending by these bodies significantly increasing over the past decade.

Some quangos are very large organisations, like the NHS and Ofsted, while others are much smaller bodies, like the Boundary Commission for England.

Tyrie’s report, published by the Thatcherite Centre for Policy Studies think tank, said that the UK is becoming a “quango state” with the bodies now overseeing 20 per cent of the economy.

Tyrie said: “The number, powers and importance of quangos has been a growing for a long time. Parliament has an opportunity to do something about it.

“Quangos play a decisive role in a great deal of British public life, but their decisions often go unexamined by parliament.

“The decisions of many are not subject to enough effective and constructive challenge. Some are slipping…beyond effective accountability.”

There have historically been claims that quango directors are appointed without due process and are an example of “jobs for the boys”.

In its recent report, the Public Accounts Committee said this had not been addressed over the past decade and that the appointments process needed to be reformed.

Committee chair and Labour MP Meg Hillier said: “Government must begin to properly account for the vast £265bn of taxpayers’ money a year spent by Arm’s Length Bodies, starting at the point of why they’re set up in the first place, and demonstrate who is genuinely the best person to lead and deliver through an open, fair and transparent public appointments process.”

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