By Ray Fleming

THE Conservative element in Britain's coalition government has always made great play of the waste and inefficiency of the Labour government before it.

But now that its two-year occupancy of Whitehall is approaching there is accumulating evidence that the Conservatives are not necessarily more efficient than Labour in government despite having the benefit of advice from High Street businessmen.

Earlier this week the National Audit Office (NOA), Whitehall's spending watchdog, reported that the cost of the Conservative's much publicised programme for reducing the number of the 262 “quangos” appointed by Labour is running at twice the amount provided in 2010. By the target date of 2014/15 for the elimination of most of these organisation the job will have cost the government 830 million pounds although the functions of a number of them have been handed to government departments which may not be qualified to undertake their specialised work or funded to do so.

In October 2010 in this space I asked how the obviously expert and necessary work of the Spongiform Eucephalopathy Advisory Committee quango was going to be continued; I do not know whether it still exists but it is interesting that NOA pointed out in its report that most of the essential remaining quangos operate “at arms length” from the government and can do so more economically than if their work is given to a ministry.

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