Daily Archives: October 14, 2010

Jim Pickard

Mr MacShane, the former Europe minister, was reported to the police today after questions over his office expenses. The decision was taken by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards and endorsed by the Standards and Privileges Committee.

The claims are understood to involve an office based in the garage of the Rotherham MP’s Yorkshire home and invoices from the European Policy Institute for “research and translation”. The EPI is controlled by his brother.

 Read more

Jim Pickard

Political historians will be raking over May’s coalition talks for many years to come to establish an ever deeper level of detail and nuance.

We already know a fair amount about the talks that took place between a Lib Dem team of negotiators and their counterparts from the Tory and Labour parties. Yet there are still various interpretations of how the discussions played out.

This morning I watched David Laws and Lord Adonis give their subtly different versions of events five months after they occurred. Read more

Jim Pickard

The document on quango reform reveals further details about the reasoning behind why some bodies are being axed and others are not. And that some are being dealt with more quickly than others.

Most strikingly, the merger of the Competition Commission and Office of Fair Trading will not be immediate. Instead there will be a consultation period – starting next year: Read more

Jim Pickard

Covering the foot and mouth epidemic of 2001 from a small Devon village I was asked to describe the pyres of cremated cows in great detail. The FT’s then news editor had issued the orders: “I want our readers to smell their burning flesh.”

There was no similar sense of glee from Francis Maude, minister for the Cabinet Office, as he described his own bonfire of the quangos this morning. Instead he was careful to argue that the scrapping of up to 200 such bodies was all about accountability rather than saving money. It’s a curious argument and one that doesn’t exactly make sense; as Alex pointed out yesterday, quangos surely need to endure the same depth of cuts as the rest of Whitehall.

Here is a link to the announcement, which came out just after 10am. And here is the ft.com news story by Nick Timmins.

In total 480 quangos face reforms.

* Of these 192 will be abolished: a handful of which could become charities, such as the Design Council, British Waterways and the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA).

* Another 118 will be merged, to create 57 larger quangos.

* A further 171 will be “reformed”. These include the Homes and Communities Agency and the Environment Agency.

* Just 380 will be retained in their existing form. Those which had been on the “amber” list and are now saved include the BBC World Service and the British Council.

Meanwhile I’m told that on Friday Mr Maude is set to produce a latterday Domesday Book of Whitehall spending, with organograms showing how many people work at the highest echelons of each department and quango. Read more

Britain’s austerity apostles charge towards the abyss — Skidelsky/FT
OFT and Competition Commission reforged in quango bonfire — FT
Flagship bank lending scheme helps just 150 businesses — FT
Ed Miliband moves towards 1:1 ratio on tax to cuts — Mehdi Hasan
Maude flinches in face of pro-quango lobbying – The Independent
A festival of austerity and Euroscepticism in the Commons — Tim Montgomerie
To the barricades: the revolution is upon us — Jon Snow
New Treasury raid on pensions – Telegraph
Inquiry into Network Rail moves closer – FT