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Quangos

Volume 977: debated on Thursday 31 January 1980

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Q1.

asked the Prime Minister what action she proposes to take on the "Report on Non-Departmental Public Bodies."

As I told my hon. Friend the Member for Carlton (Mr. Holland) on 16 January, the Government endorse the proposals for the future set out in Sir Leo Pliatzky's excellent report. I have set in hand the steps necessary to implement them.

Does the right hon. Lady agree that, despite the propaganda about quangos put out by the Conservative Party before the general election, this report fully justifies the good public work done by the people serving on these nominated bodies? In view of the fact that many thousands of people give their services free, will the right hon. Lady pay tribute to their work and ensure that these bodies have the public funds they need to perform their tasks—especially the NEB and the Scottish and Welsh Development Agencies—thus minimising the untold damage inflicted by this Government's ecomonic and financial policies?

I think that what the report did was to show that a large numbers of quangos can be weeded out, and were, in fact, terminated, with a saving of about 3,700 appointments and, in the end, a good deal of money. The report also showed that a number of other quangos must continue and I gladly pay tribute to the people who work in those.

Is the Prime Minister aware that the abolition of the Clean Air Council will be considered by many as evidence that the Government do not propose to do much about air pollution in the next few years? Is the right hon. Lady aware that for £15,000 a year the Government received a great deal of expert advice and work? Will she tell her right hon Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment to take that clause out of the Local Government, Planning and Land (No. 2) Bill?

No, Sir. It is a mistake to think that we need to have an advisory council on everything to get Government to take action. Sometimes such bodies can slow it down.