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There are nearly 350 quangos in Wales, spending more than£2 billion of public money, according to the Council of W...
There are nearly 350 quangos in Wales, spending more than £2 billion of public money, according to the Council of Welsh Districts.

In a report to its annual meeting, the CWD identifies a wide range of bodies operating specifically for Wales, from executive bodies such as the Welsh Development Agency to advisory bodies and tribunals.

Their combined budget was £2.3bn in 1992-93.

Council representation on quangos is low, the report found. Among major bodies such as the Countryside Commission, the Land Authority for Wales and the Sports Council for Wales, only 15% of members are councillors.

The CWD has a 'fundamental dilemma' in its relationship with quangos. Councils may feel 'CWD involvement adds only a bogus veneer of democratic legitimacy' to a quango. In other cases, council involvement may be the only way to make the quango respond to the community.

The report highlights the lack of accountability. Only a few quangos are subject to ombudsman or public audit scrutiny. Local government has a responsibility to take on and foster the scrutiny role, it says.

Councils must act to reverse the decline in democratic accountability, the report says.

At local level, councils should develop strategies to monitor quangos, and the CWD should hold a central register of such information.

At national level, the report recommends:

All Welsh public bodies to produce annual reports

The ombudsman to cover more quangos

All national Welsh quangos to have monitoring officers

Appointments to be made fairer and more open and the number of jobs held by any one individual to be limited

Elections to some quango boards and increased council representation on national boards.

In the long run, a Welsh Assembly will impose democratic control over quangos.

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