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Volume 564: debated on Wednesday 19 June 2013

To date, the number of public bodies has been reduced by more than 240, through abolitions and mergers, and by the end of the spending review period in March 2015, the Government will have reduced their total number by a third.

I congratulate my hon. Friend on what he has managed to achieve so far, but how will he ensure that we never see the explosion in the number of these unaccountable bodies that we saw under the last Government?

That is absolutely the right question, and part of the answer is that in the future any new proposal for creating a public body will have to get the approval of the Minister for the Cabinet Office, and I think I can reliably inform the House that the answer would likely be no. Furthermore, in the future, every public body will be subject to triennial reviews set up to justify their continued existence. It is about changing the culture that we inherited from the last Government.

One set of so-called quangos that was immediately abolished were the very accountable regional development agencies, and since then regional assistance has noticeably been a pale shadow of what it was. What steps is the Cabinet Office taking to audit the effectiveness with which the subsequent bodies—the regional growth fund, the local enterprise partnerships—are delivering regeneration to areas that desperately need it, such as mine in north Staffordshire?

I am puzzled by the hon. Gentleman’s question, particularly in relation to exactly whom the RDAs were accountable to. I do not think that anyone is weeping for their absence, and I think that he should give LEPs a chance. My impression is that they are doing increasingly valuable work. We have new city deals and a whole new era of localism, with more and more decisions being taken locally and accountable to the communities they serve. I hope he will welcome that.