BBC Home
Explore the BBC
BBC News
Launch consoleBBC NEWS CHANNEL
Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 July, 2004, 16:08 GMT 17:08 UK
'End of the quango state'
Three quango logos

First Minister Rhodri Morgan has announced that the Welsh Development Agency, Wales Tourist Board and Elwa will cease to be quangos by April 2006.

More than 1,500 people work for the bodies but it is not known yet how many will be transferred into the Welsh assembly administration.

The quangos were semi-independent agencies of the assembly government which operated as arm's-length executive bodies responsible to boards appointed by ministers.

Addressing the assembly, Mr Morgan announced: "Today marks the end of the quango state as we have known it."

The move is the biggest upheaval in Wales' administration in recent years. The three bodies affected administer huge parts of Welsh life.

Elwa - Responsible for funding, planning and promoting all post-16 education and training in Wales with the exception of higher education.
Wales Tourist Board - Aims to improve the prosperity of Wales through the marketing and development of tourism.
WDA - An economic development body which aims to help businesses to start and develop.

Since its establishment in 1976, the WDA has brought in 12bn of investment into Wales, while Elwa is responsible for all post-16 education except universities.

But Labour in Wales says these bodies are not efficient enough and believes their performance will improve under the direct control of the Welsh Assembly government.

Mr Morgan said consultation measures are to be put in place to ensure a smooth transition with support and advice for staff.

The assembly government said the aim behind the change is to streamline structures and processes, simplify decision making and make public services more flexible and responsive to the needs of businesses and learners.

'Unelected quango boards'

Addressing the plenary session at Cardiff Bay on Wednesday, Mr Morgan said: "Today marks the end of the quango state as we have known it.

"Now is the time to take the next major step forward in developing devolution in Wales.

"Wales is too small a country to have a 60-member assembly and so many unelected quango boards.

"Our economy is more dynamic and successful than in a generation and our post-16 education system now provides better opportunities for all learners than ever before.

"It is precisely because the staff and board members have provided effective delivery of services that we are able to embark on this change...

Rhodri Morgan makes announcement on quangos at the Welsh assembly
Rhodri Morgan said the plan was a 'step forward' for devolution

"Let me say directly to the staff of the WDA, the WTB and Elwa that their skills and abilities are going to be even more important in the future than they have been in the past."

Suggestions to scrap some Welsh quangos were first suggested by then-Shadow Welsh Secretary Ron Davies in 1995.

He said Welsh public life was suffering as a result of many important jobs being carried out by unelected people and suggested a 'bonfire of the quangos'.

In Scotland the process has already begun. Of 183 public bodies, a third have been scrapped and the Scottish Executive is reviewing a further third with a view to abolishing them.

'Summer recess'

Responding to Mr Morgan's announcement, Leader of Plaid Cymru Ieuan Wyn Jones said the plans had long been Plaid's vision and that the assembly government had at last "seen sense".

"We should consider taking this further and bring the quango state to an end," he added.

"Even after this announcement almost 4bn will be spent by quangos in Wales. This is more that local government and only a little less than the assembly government."

Nick Bourne, leader of the Welsh Conservatives, said opposition parties had not had enough time to debate the plans.

He said: "The Labour assembly government is trying to sneak through this important decision just hours before the start of the long summer recess.

"By leaving this announcement until the last minute, assembly members are being denied the chance to study the proposals carefully and ask detailed questions about the plans.

"While we give a qualified welcome to this announcement, the first minister must now explain how he intends to drive this agenda forward."

The Welsh Liberal Democrats called for greater powers of scrutiny in the assembly following the decision to move the quangos' work into the assembly government.

Mike German, leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats in the assembly, said: "With the assembly government gaining greater powers, the assembly itself must gain greater scrutinising powers.

"With more power comes more responsibility and there must be more opportunity to hold the government to account."


Next step in 'quango bonfire'
Talks over legislation to abolish several major quangos begins





News Front Page | World | UK | England | Northern Ireland | Scotland | Wales | Politics
Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health | Education
Have Your Say | Magazine | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific