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QUANGOS ERODE BRITAIN'S CIVIC SOCIETY (LORDS: HANSARD)

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Britain's civic society is being eroded by the increasing number of quangos, warned Baroness Williams of Crosby tak...
Britain's civic society is being eroded by the increasing number of quangos, warned Baroness Williams of Crosby taking part in a Liberal Democrat initiated debate in the Lords yesterday on 'quangos' (Hansard 610-651).

The Baroness referred to the Police Bill, debated only 24 hours earlier, as an example on how responsibility had been removed from local authorities.

'The government must ask themselves how far they are putting some of our greatest and finest institutions into contempt, not least the police service which was throughout the world one of the most admired institutions for which this country was responsible in its history.

Labour peer, Lord Taylor of Gryfe said he had served on Glasgow City Council for many years' 'In those days, the local authority was responsible for health, education, housing and for the police - all things that impacted seriously on the daily lives of the people of Glasgow. Those responsibilities are handled now by quangos appointed by the Secretary of State for Scotland.'

'By 1996 it is expected that there will be 7,700 non-elected boards in this country, and one-quarter of total government expenditure will be spent on those. That cannot be a healthy development in what we claim to be a democratic society. '

Junior minister, Lord Howe wound up the debate by denying any political bias in appointments: 'How can it strengthen accountability to pass to local authorities unfettered control of services for which they do not raise the money? There is the idea that local authority control will solve everything. Control should rest with those who manage the services and with those who use them .

'Those who use them now have a voice because they have the necessary information on which to base a judgement about the standards of those services.'

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