Headlines: February 11th, 2005

There are calls today for new limits and controls on Quangos and for an inquiry into the money spent on regional development agencies. They come from Dan Lewis, author of ‘The Essential Guide to British Quangos 2005’, which is published today.Mr. Lewis is director of the Efficiency in Government Unit, a body that is co-sponsored by the Centre for Policy Studies and the Economic Research Council. The guide includes statistics on the costs to taxpayers of Quangos as well as detailing their tax, regulatory and funding powers. Mr. Lewis says this had not been done before.

Mr. Lewis analyses 529 of the non-governmental bodies and says there is huge duplication of their work, particularly in areas such as the environment, energy, sport and tourism.

As well as listing the most costly Quangos, those with the biggest staffs and the 113 that have been set up since 1997, Mr. Lewis outlines a number of reforms that he believes are needed. They include a limit on the number of Quangos per Government Department, transparent funding arrangements for all of them, including the costs of seconded civil servants, and proper democratic control of all levy-funded bodies with an end to all compulsory levies.

He calls, too, for a public inquiry into the billions of pounds that he says are spent on regional development agencies, regional councils and cultural organisations that he claims are almost entirely waste