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Column 519fraud and waste" and "falling standards in public life". I am addressing the words "falling standards in public life", "increased fraud and waste", and "loss in the quality of public services." All those things exist in Monklands. I believe that Monklands would be better run by a quango and that is the argument that I am trying to put forward. I hope that it will be accepted that Monklands would be better run by a quango than by the corrupt council that exists. Catherine Miller, the secretary of the Holehills and Raywards branch of the Labour party, is complaining. The Plains and Caldercruix branch of John Smith's Labour party issued a statement in 1992 which said :
"Such entrenchment of power in so few hands is bad for local democracy present dictatorial set-up of council committees and sub-committees"
is in such a bad state that they
"call upon the National Executive to fully investigate". In Monklands, they require
"a democratization process so the council fully represents the entire electorate."
In other words, the council is not representing the entire
Mr. Terry Davis (Birmingham, Hodge Hill) : It is my usual practice to respond specifically to the contribution of the previous speaker. However, for reasons which I am sure the House will understand, I shall not refer to the speech of the hon. Member for Dover (Mr. Shaw). Instead, I shall refer to the speech of the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.
The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster was right on one point--there have always been quangos and non-departmental public bodies. However, he missed the whole point of Labour's motion. First, he failed to understand the issue of appointments to quangos and non-departmental public bodies. Of course, I accept that there has always been a tendency for different Governments to appoint people of their own political persuasion to all sorts of bodies. The issue today is that the Government have lost all sense of balance. Almost all of their appointments are of their political supporters ; they do not appoint members of any other party or, indeed, people with no political affiliation if they can avoid it.
Mr. Jonathan Evans : The hon. Gentleman was not here a few minutes ago when I pointed out that a member of the Welsh Arts Council is the research officer of the hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. Morgan).
Mr. Davis : I was present in the Chamber and I heard the hon. Gentleman's point, which I shall deal with in a moment. He should contain himself. Tonight, we are witnessing some rather intemperate behaviour from Tory Members. We would all get on better if we debated the motion instead of trying to score points. I shall deal with the petty hon. Gentleman as soon as possible.
As I said, the Government, whenever possible, appoint their political supporters, and they avoid appointing people who are not their political supporters. That charge has been made by many Opposition Members today--not just the Labour party. There is common ground among the Opposition parties that that is what happens. I think that most objective people would agree.
Column 520That does not mean that the Government never appoint members of other political parties. I was careful with my choice of words, because there may well be a researcher to one of my hon. Friends who has been appointed to a body in Wales. Frankly, the Government must be running out of Conservatives in Wales to appoint to public bodies, so I would not be surprised if they had to appoint the occasional socialist. They even do that in places such as the west midlands--as I will describe later, because I intend to make a balanced speech. The charge is that, whenever possible, the Government avoid appointing to a public body anyone who is not a supporter. We saw that in the speech of the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. The right hon. Gentleman said that what was wrong in the past was that Labour Governments had appointed some trade unionists to public bodies. He did not just say that--of course, it is true--but added that they were Labour cronies. That is the way the Government think. It is also true, of course, that Labour Governments appointed business men to non -departmental bodies, because previous Labour Governments attempted to achieve some sense of balance.
Several hon. Members rose --
Mr. Davis : If Government Members will sit down and let me proceed with my speech, I will tell them that that was also true of previous Conservative Governments. The charge is that this Government have politicised all appointments. In the past, both Labour and Conservative Governments would make sure that there was some representation from other parties on non-departmental public bodies.
Mr. Richards : Is the hon. Gentleman aware that my right hon. Friend the Member for Wirral, West (Mr. Hunt), when he was Secretary of State for Wales, invited the Labour party to submit to him a list of people it considered suitable for quangos? Is the hon. Gentleman further aware that the Labour party has not submitted a single name to the Welsh Office?
Mr. Davis : I am sure that many bodies within the Labour movement have submitted lists of potential appointees. It is accepted by all dispassionate observers that there are very few people appointed by the Government--I do not say that there are no people--who are not members or supporters of their party. That is my point.
Other Governments, both Labour and Conservative, tried to achieve some balance. Of course they tended to appoint their supporters, but they made sure that some people were appointed from other parties. The Government also seem obsessed with the idea that the only people who should be appointed to non-departmental public bodies and quangos are business men. I find that strange. It is clear that some business men should be appointed, but to suggest that only business men should be appointed neglects the obvious fact that this country is in an economic mess, and to appoint to run the NHS the people who have produced that mess seems wilful in the extreme.
The second point which the Chancellor failed to address was the balance between elected and non-elected bodies. He avoided that matter completely. He said rightly that the number of
non-departmental public bodies had been
Column 521reduced. My hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Meacher) fairly and rightly pointed out that that ignored the fact that most of the bodies which were abolished were advisory bodies.
The bodies which have increased in number, and above all whose powers have been increased, are executive bodies, and the balance has been tipped in favour of appointed, rather than elected, bodies. There has been an increase in the number of executive bodies and in the power of those executive bodies.
The Chancellor said that more money had been given to the Housing Corporation to deal with social housing, and that is right. However, that has been at the expense of money which has been allocated--not given--to local authorities to provide social housing. My hon. Friends and I have made that point consistently throughout the debate. The switch of power from elected to unelected bodies is true not only in the case of local authorities. The Government have also divested themselves of responsibility and passed it to unelected bodies. There are not only the famous and long- standing quangos, but the new-fangled agencies which have been set up precisely for that purpose.
My hon.Friends--most notably, my right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman)--have said that Ministers will not answer questions, and will not deal with inquiries from hon. Members from any party. That is a way of shirking, avoiding and evading responsibility. Ministers pass it to agencies, such as the Benefits Agency, but they do not have the same responsibility to this House. The Chancellor was right on one detailed point : we did not have elected health authorities before. Some of us would like to see that. We believe that we should democratise the NHS. However, the right hon. Gentleman is right to say that that was not the case under the previous Labour Government. It is true that the present Government have perpetuated it, but they have done more.
There has been not only an increase in the power of the non-elected bodies within the NHS, but a reduction in accountability. Hon. Members all know examples in which they have not been able to get answers. The Chancellor was quite wrong : it is impossible to get the accounts of trust hospitals, and we are refused access to the business plans of trust applications. That information is not made available, and financial information is the most important part of accountability.
The hon. Member for Spelthorne (Mr. Wilshire) gave a long discourse about the meaning of accountability and democracy. He was right to a small degree, because there is a difference between democracy and accountability. On the other hand, democracy involves accountability, and one also can have accountability in other ways. Appointees can be accountable to the body which appointed them.
The hon. Gentleman talked about head teachers, but did not mention the body to which they are responsible. He said that they are accountable to teachers, parents and students, but they are not. Head teachers have duties to those people, but they are not accountable to their colleagues, to parents and to students.
They are accountable to the one body which the hon. Gentleman did not mention--the governors. They are accountable to the governors because it was the governors who appointed them. It is the governors who have the
Column 522power to hire and fire. That is what accountability means in the last resort. That is where head teachers are accountable. We have seen from the report published by the Public Accounts Committee about the proper conduct of public business that those public bodies are less and less accountable. The report listed a number of examples, and referred specifically to the health service. The situation has become worse, and the Committee unanimously agreed on that. There was no difference of opinion between the Labour and Conservative Committee Members.
We agreed unanimously that there had been
"inadequate oversight by those in authority".
The Committee specifically defined that as a
"failure to obtain information, infrequent meetings, decisions not properly reached and recorded."
The Committee also found that there had been a
"failure to ensure that delegation of responsibility accompanied by clear lines of control and accountability, leading to the waste of large sums of public money."
Finally, the Committee found that there was a
"failure to hold individuals personally accountable for their actions."
I repeat that those were the unanimous conclusions of the members of the Public Accounts Committee.
I shall give examples, of which some have already been mentioned by my hon. Friends. Two examples are drawn from the health service. We found that in Wessex regional health authority there had been "a serious failure on the part of the Regional Health Authorities to secure accountability from the then Regional General Manager". The manager was able to run riot through the health service in the Wessex region without being held accountable by the people appointed by the Secretary of State to make him accountable.
The same thing happened in the West Midlands regional health authority, my own region. We found :
"there was a serious failure by Members of the Regional Health Authority in their duty to secure the accountability of regional management."
The position has got worse. Whatever my disagreements might be about the reorganisation of the health service, I believe that, 10, 15 or 20 years ago, the management of the health service was more accountable to the people appointed to the regional health authorities than it is today.
The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster said that he could not do anything about Sir Robin Buchanan, the former chairman of Wessex regional health authority, who was found to be personally responsible for the failures there, because he was waiting for the investigation by the Public Accounts Committee. There are two answers to that. First, I seriously believe that the Chancellor was misinformed. My understanding is that he received reports long before the Comptroller and Auditor General reported to the Public Accounts Committee. Even if we put that on one side, the Chancellor has had the report from the Public Accounts Committee for a long time now. What has he done? Sir Robin Buchanan is still there. He has been promoted to a higher-paid job, to which he was appointed by the Secretary of State. What has been done to make him accountable and responsible for failures that occurred in Wessex regional health authority?
The same thing has happened in the west midlands, where we found that members had failed to discharge their
Column 523responsibility. What has happened? The very people who failed to control the management in the west midlands have been appointed to other jobs elsewhere in the health service.
That report was about the regionally managed services organisation in the west midlands. A year later almost to the day, we took evidence on another scandal in the west midlands--the problem of South Birmingham health authority. Once again, assurances had been made 18 months before, and nothing had happened.
The health authority was supposed to implement an action plan to restore the financial position of that health authority and had failed to do so. We were told that the action plan would not cause any damage to the service to the local community. We found that nothing had been done. What is worse, nothing had happened to the people who failed.
The question needs to be asked : to whom are members of the regional health authorities accountable? They are certainly not accountable to the Management Executive or to its so-called chief executive, Sir Duncan Nichol. My right hon. Friend the Member for Swansea, West (Mr. Williams) referred to the politicisation of civil servants. I find Sir Duncan Nichol the most political of civil servants, but even I have some sympathy with him when he is faced with health service managers who do not do what they are supposed to do.
Sir Duncan Nichol has appeared before the Public Accounts Committee several times and said, "I have no power. I cannot do anything about it. They ignore my letters. Sometimes they do not even reply." He cannot give instructions to managers. The chief executive cannot execute. He cannot do anything.
There is an old saying with which all hon. Members will be familiar, that newspaper proprietors are harlots because they have power without responsibility. Sir Duncan Nichol, the chief executive of the National Health Service Management Executive, is the opposite. He has responsibility without power. He is powerless. He is impotent. Managerially speaking, he is a eunuch. He cannot do anything about the problems. He is called chief executive, but he has no power. However, there is one way to deal with the problem. The hon. Member for Clwyd, North-West (Mr. Richards) said that some socialists had been appointed to bodies even by this Government. In extremis, the Government have had to turn to the Labour party to find a new chairman of the South Birmingham health authority. They have appointed a well-known member of the Labour party to sort out the mess in South Birmingham.
That is the way in which we will sort out the mess at national level. The electorate will turn to the Labour party to do it. 9.2 pm
Mr. Graham Riddick (Colne Valley) : The debate today provides an opportunity for the House to debate the fundamentally different approach taken by the Conservative party compared with that of the socialists on the Opposition Benches. Conservatives believe in providing opportunities wherever possible for individuals to make their own decisions on a regular basis, using the market mechanism. The Labour party believes in allowing people to have a democratic choice once every four years or so.
Column 524Socialist Governments of old claimed that the British people owned the industries that they had nationalised. In reality, people had no control or influence whatever over those industries. The politicians and civil servants were in charge. The privatisation of those state-owned companies has led not only to massive improvements in efficiency but to greater responsiveness to individual consumers. That has been achieved by the introduction of competition wherever possible, the creation of powerful regulators where competition was not immediately possible, and the commercial reality that such companies can no longer rely on the state to prop them up. I well remember some 16 years or so ago, when I used to drive many thousands of miles a year, that it was impossible to find a telephone kiosk that worked. It took six months to have a telephone installed in one's home. Now, because British Telecom knows that the only way to operate profitably is to provide customers with what they want, we have many more public telephone kiosks, and they work. One has only to ring British Telecom to have a telephone installed in a matter of days. So everybody wins. The consumer receives a decent service, shareholders see the value of their company increase and the Government receive enormous sums in corporation tax.
No elected politician has brought this situation about, except that a Conservative Secretary of State took the decision to privatise the company in the first place.
In British Gas, for example, domestic and industrial prices have fallen by 21 per cent. and 25 per cent. respectively in real terms since privatisation. Disconnections are at their lowest level ever. The same can be said of all the companies that we have privatised : the customers have benefited, be they of British Airways, Yorkshire Electricity or Cable and Wireless. The forces of competition and of the market can be used to improve many of our public services, but it means that there is less of a role for elected politicians. Let us take education as an example. The Government have given more power to parents to decide which school to send their children to and, at the same time, through local management of schools we have given schools more autonomy and greater independence. So the more pupils those schools attract, the more money they receive. How does one attract pupils? By improving the quality of education offered to them, by tightening discipline and dress, and by offering a well-balanced curriculum--in short, by offering to parents what they as parents want rather than what the politicians on the local education authority think they want and should have.
Grant-maintained schools take this to its ultimate conclusion because they are like independent schools within the state sector : they flourish or die depending on whether they can attract enough pupils. The result is that such schools have improved their standards significantly. Surveys of grant- maintained schools have revealed more teachers being taken on, more staff being trained, more subjects being taught, more books and equipment being bought, smaller classes and better school food. Yet, ludicrously, one or two Opposition Members have labelled grant-maintained schools quangos.
One of the great advantages of some of the changes that I have mentioned, not just in schools but also in health authorities, in further education colleges and in universities, is that the process is leading to less politicisation of the services. In the old days councillors served on health authorities. They were not elected to the
Column 525health authorities, although Opposition Members suggested that they were. Frequently they failed to turn up. When they did, they were often more interested in scoring party political points than in doing what was right for patients.
There has been a complete change. I know from my experience in Huddersfield that the West Yorkshire health authority, along with the Royal Huddersfield Infirmary trust, is single-minded in trying to improve patient care. They know what they must achieve and are doing their best to achieve it. When it comes to political appointments, I know one individual, out of all those who serve on the boards of the two authorities that I have mentioned, along with the local family health services authority, who is a card-carrying Conservative ; I have no idea whatever of the politics of any of the others. What a contrast that is to what used to happen when the Labour Government were last in power. I have done a little research over the past couple of days, and it is interesting to look at the composition of the Equal Opportunties Commission. The Labour Government used to put a token Tory on such bodies and, in the case of the Equal Opportunities Commission, the token Tory was Lady Howe. There are some who may claim that she was not altogether an archetypal Tory, but I am sure that she is, or at least was, a Tory.
The chairman of the Equal Opportunities Commission was Miss Bettly Lockwood, chief woman officer and assistant national agent of the Labour party. Other members of the commission included Lord Allen of Fallowfield, CBE, no less, general secretary of the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers ; and Professor Gordon Barrie, a twice failed Labour parliamentary candidate. He later became Director of Fair Trading, and it is worth pointing out that the Conservative Government reappointed him on two, if not three, occasions. I was not altogether happy at his last appointment, but that is another matter.
Other members of the commission were Miss Ethel Chipchase, MBE, no less, secretary of the TUC's Women's Advisory Committee ; Marie Patterson, vice- chairman of the TUC ; and Mr. Eric Robinson, vice-president of the Socialist Education Association. That shows how the Labour Government put their own party people and trade union friends into the Equal Opportunities Commission.
The same applies to the Commission for Racial Equality. Interestingly, the CRE took over from the Race Relations Board which, before its abolition in 1977, contained two Conservatives : Mrs. Christie and Miss Roberts. It also contained a trade unionist in the shape of Mr. Cyril Plant. The token Tory on the Commission for Racial Equality was Mr. David Lane, a former Tory MP. But other members included councillor Bashir Maan, a Labour councillor ; Mr. Tom Jackson, general secretary of the Union of Post Office Workers ; Mr. Courtney A. Laws, former TGWU shop steward ; and Mr. William Morris, who, as we all know, is now general secretary of the TGWU. What is interesting about those appointments is that, in December 1977, the CRE also contained two Liberals, I now know what the Liberals achieved from the Lib-Lab pact--they got two of their people on to the CRE.
Column 526It is a little unwise of the Labour party to throw stones, because the information that I have just provided proves that the last Labour Government were in the business of packing those bodies and quangos with their own people.
Mr. Streeter : Is my hon. Friend aware that, just after Christmas, a member of my Conservative association in Plymouth buttonholed me at a reception, complaining bitterly that we were not appointing enough Conservatives to the local trusts and quangos. We were appointing people on merit rather than for their party political affiliation and they wanted to know what I was going to do about it. Is not that an accurate picture of what is going on?
Mr. Riddick : Yes, I have heard such complaints. Sometimes they are true. I make no complaint about that because a variety of individuals should serve on those public bodies. Contrary to what Opposition Members say, we are not packing those bodies with Conservatives. We are, however, putting a significant number of business men on them, but that is because we want them to be run in a businesslike way. The last Labour Government put trade unionists on their public bodies because they wanted them to be run in a trade unionist-like way. Let us look at what else the last Labour Government got up to. At one stage, Jack Jones, the then general secretary of the TGWU, held 13 public appointments. His deputy general secretary, Harry Urwin, had nine such appointments. In May 1978, past and present officials of the TGWU were estimated to hold at least 27 paid or unpaid appointments.
Len Edmundson and Hugh Scanlon of the engineers' union held 11 between them ; Reg Bottini--a name from the past--the retired leader of the agricultural workers, had nine appointments ; and Sir George Smith, the general secretary of the Union of Construction Allied Trades and Technicians, had eight.
George Woodcock, who, it will be remembered, was general secretary of the Trades Union Congress, gave the game away when he made quite clear what qualifications were appropriate to securing appointment to public bodies. He said :
"Seniority, the muscle power of your union and competence--these are what you need to get a public job, and in that order of priority." At the same time, the then Secretary of State who was responsible for the social services--David Ennals--removed 32 of the 90 health authority chairmen and replaced them with Labour party hacks and supporters.
Mr. Fabricant : Does not my hon. Friend think it rather strange that, while we are seeking Labour party volunteers for trusts, that party seems unwilling to put people forward? We have heard about this situation in Wales. Is it not even more outrageous that the Labour party should complain that the people serving on trusts are mainly Conservatives?
It is clear that, if there is no other way in which some public services and functions can be made accountable to individuals and communities, accountability must come through the democratic process. But no one should imagine that elected politicians are paragons of virtue. Indeed, the behaviour of many Labour local authorities has brought local government into disrepute.
Column 527I am sorry that my hon. Friend the Member for Dover (Mr. Shaw) was not able to tell us about the Monklands council. Of course I respect your ruling, Mr. Deputy Speaker, but I look forward to the day when my hon. Friend will be able to tell the House exactly what the Monklands council has been getting up to. We know that it has operated a system whereby a relative of a councillor who wants a job--
Mr. Riddick : I am not trying to test your patience, Mr. Deputy Speaker ; I am drawing attention to the role played by quangos. These bodies, which comprise unelected people, sometimes act in a more appropriate way than do elected politicians. That is the important point. The fact that, in the case of the Monklands council, green forms were given to job applicants related to councillors while pink forms were given to people who were unemployed is worth getting on the record.
Mr. Deputy Speaker : Order. I hesitate to interrupt the hon. Gentleman again, but I hope that he will not force me into taking action that I have taken previously. I have already ruled on this matter, as he knows. He must stick to the motion.
Mr. Riddick : I should like to refer now to the Labour authority in my area, which has set up a non-elected quango--a joint venture with a private company, Henry Boot. This undertaking is taking work away from private developers. The problem is that there is a conflict of interests. The council is operating both as planning authority and as developer. That should not be encouraged in any shape or form.
Mr. Fabricant : Does my hon. Friend agree that it is outrageous of the Labour party to oppose quangos when its manifesto contains a huge list of quangos that it would like to introduce? Is he aware that it mentions a Scottish parliament, a Welsh assembly, English regional government, a Greater London authority and a regional development agency? It talks about 460 local authorities in England, but it wants local consumer councils, local quality commissions and local centres for innovation. The list is endless. Does my hon. Friend agree that that is the ultimate in hypocrisy?
Mr. Riddick : When I talked about allowing other hon. Members to make short speeches, I was thinking of Opposition Members. My hon. Friend has just made his speech and I congratulate him on it. It was extremely good and concise.
The debate has again shown the Labour party's belief in the primacy of the politician over the individual. [ Hon. Members :-- "It does not believe that."] I believe that it does. Conservative Members believe in the primacy of individuals as users of services, be they gas, electricity, telecommunications, education or health care. We have had a whiff of hypocrisy from the Labour party today. It packed quangos with trade unionists and Labour hacks when it was in power and Labour councils have undermined its claim to be the party of integrity, let alone its claim to be a party of government. I shall, therefore, be delighted to support the Government in the Lobby.
Mr. Dafydd Wigley (Caernarfon) : On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Is it not possible to ensure that hon. Members from all parties who have attended this debate have an opportunity to speak? Quangos are the most important issue on the political agenda in Wales. The people of Wales will find it incredible if the hon. Member for Delyn (Mr. Hanson), who has published a standard work on the issue, and other Welsh Members do not have the opportunity to speak on the subject in the only Parliament that we have. They will also find incredible the sort of abuse that we have heard in the Chamber tonight.
Mr. Deputy Speaker : The occupant of the Chair has no control over the length of speeches. I appealed earlier for shorter speeches so that I could call more hon. Members, but unfortunately my request fell on deaf ears.
Mr. Fabricant : On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. As a new and inexperienced hon. Member, I ask whether it is normal and courteous for hon. Members who want to make speeches to be present throughout the debate? Is it not the case that the hon. Member for Caernarfon (Mr. Wigley) has not been here most of the time? Mr. Wigley rose --
Mr. Deputy Speaker : Order. There are common courtesies in the House, which I have noticed many hon. Members have not respected recently. The hon. Member for Caernarfon (Mr. Wigley) has been in the Chamber all the time that I have been in the Chair.
Mr. John Garrett (Norwich, South) : This has been an excellent debate. It has reached into the heart of some important constitutional issues. Not long ago, during a sitting of the Sub-Committee of the Treasury and Civil Service Select Committee, Sir Robin Butler was asked whether the Government, which consisted of 30 main Departments, was being transformed into a civil service that consisted of 30 ministerial head offices, about 150 executive agencies and units, hundreds of quangos--such as training enterprise councils, trusts and corporate organisations--and thousands of contractors, all of whom were trying to make a profit. Sir Robin said, honestly :
"yes, I do not think that is an inaccurate description". That admission of the dismemberment of Government has a number of important implications for the ability of a Government to manage and control the activities of the constellation of providers and far-reaching implications for public and parliamentary
accountability. That argument was advanced in a thoughtful speech by the hon. Member for Wantage (Mr. Jackson).
The dismemberment of Government considerably affects parliamentary control. For example, how will a Select Committee that is set up to examine the policy, spending and administration of a Department cope with having to scrutinise the policy and legislative activities of a Department's headquarters, a dozen agencies, scores of quangos and hundreds of contracts covering work for which a Minister is nominally responsible?
The first question concerns whether the Government are willing to contemplate the additional resources that would be required by Select Committees to carry out their work in the new political environment. Ministers have been captivated by the idea of entrepreneurial government. They
Column 529are entranced by peformance pay, agency formation, privatisation, quangos and contracting out without ever thinking through the total effect. The effect we are particularly concerned with tonight is the loss of public accountability arising from the transfer of public services to bodies headed by unelected Government appointees and contractors. There is no doubt that that represents a severe loss of democratic control which diminishes our system of governance. The unelected state is characterised by powerful, big-spending quangos and a policy of handing out Government services to private contractors--a dangerous development. Most quangos used to be advisory bodies. Today's new quangos are executive bodies. The Government of 1979 declared war on the first kind. The Government are bestowing more and more power on the new quangos to spend public money. It has been calculated that, by 1996, more than 7,700 public bodies controlled wholly or partly by Government appointees will be responsible for spending £54 billion of taxpayers' money. Today, more than £24 billion in spending has passed from local authorities alone to unelected quangos. An appointed elite has acquired huge responsibilities for local government services and some 40,000 quango appointments are now made by Ministers.
Thanks to a number of parliamentary questions put by my hon. Friends, which were referred to earlier in the debate, we have discovered that Wales is now the land of the rising quango. Thanks to the National Audit Office, we know what a number of them have been up to. The hon. Member for Truro (Mr. Taylor) underestimated the rule of those baronies in Wales. A study by the university of Wales shows that £2.1 billion of Welsh Office spending, or 34 per cent. of the total, was dispensed by quangos employing 60,000 people. The boards of those quangos were filled by 1,260 appointees, of whom 80 per cent. were male.
The Government will not wish me to remind them, as others have today, about the scandals of the Development Board for Rural Wales or the Welsh Development Agency. The Secretary of State for Wales has been reported as being "very upset" by those events and has demanded a "sharper focus" by the Welsh quangos. He might focus more sharply on the Tory placemen who occupy so many prominent places on those boards.
A frequent characteristic of quango chairmen is that they have run unsuccessful insurance or property companies or have been involved in Tory politics. In my own county of Norfolk, the chairman of the East Norfolk health commission--a new quango--will be none other than the hapless John Alston, a local Tory politician who last year managed to lose Tory control of Norfolk county council for the first time in 104 years.
Last week I went to a seminar by the Norfolk and Waverley training and enterprise council for "non-private sector stakeholders" in the TEC. They appear to be local government and voluntary organisations. The obvious question was, "Where is the stake?" I might have asked,