Non-bonfire of the quangos

Last year, Alex Salmond rashly gave a conference speech commitment to cut the number of Scotland’s 199 quangos by 25%.

It’s fairly obvious that the recent announcements by the SNP “government” on the subject are another example of spin, not substance. Nicol Stephen summed it up in last Wednesday’s debate on the subject in the Scottish Parliament :

“Will the First Minister confirm that the budgeted set-up costs of his new skills quango will be £16 million?

“Does the First Minister agree that the problem with his list is that he counts only what he cuts and not what he creates? When he promised to cut 21 local enterprise companies, he replaced them with 48 new national, regional and sub-regional organisations. John Swinney has admitted that he has created another 24, including the new Scottish fisheries council—created, but not counted—four national health service scrutiny bodies, the seasonal flu review steering group, the housing supply statistics group, and the housing supply task force. All were created by the Government but not counted. Last week, the Government announced a crackdown on waste. That created a working group, a review, a consultation and a think-tank. Was any of that added to the list?

“Is this not like that episode of “Porridge” in which a prison escape tunnel is discovered? In the final scene, Mackay asks Fletcher, “What did you do with the dirt?” Fletcher replies, “That’s simple. We dug another tunnel and hid it in there.” Is not the First Minister doing exactly that? Seventy-six new bodies have been created by the Government, and the total is rising. All are supported by a total of 58 reviews and 91 new consultations. Why does the First Minister not admit that he is adding to the clutter and that the truth is that, for every thing that he has dropped, he has brought in something new?”

You can read the full exchange by clicking the headline above.