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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 July, 2004, 17:30 GMT 18:30 UK
'Bonfire of the quangos' promise
By Adrian Masters
BBC Wales political reporter

Ron Davies
A 'bonfire of the quangos' was first spoken about by Ron Davies

At the National Eisteddfod in 1995, the then Shadow Welsh Secretary Ron Davies said Welsh public life was suffering from "a democratic deficit".

Many of the most important jobs in Wales, he said, were being carried out by a handful of unelected people.

The only solution was to create a devolved National Assembly for Wales and to hold "a bonfire of the quangos."

When the assembly became a reality in 1999 it made a start: the Welsh Development Agency was merged with other bodies and some where abolished such as Tai Cymru.

A promise to end the quango state was included in Welsh Labour's 1999 Manifesto but in 2001, a House of Commons Public Administration Committee report said the number of quangos had barely changed.

This perceived failure to fulfil a key Labour promise caused disillusion among Labour supporters in Wales who contrasted it with the quango-cutting example of the Scottish Executive.

Blaenau Gwent MP Llew Smith published a pamphlet claiming the promised "bonfire of the quangos" had become nothing more than "a damp squib".

In interviews, First Minister Rhodri Morgan said that too much change too quickly would have been harmful.

But he always said that his government would take over responsibility for the quangos when the time was right and the assembly had settled into its role.

It seems he has decided that time is now.




END OF THE QUANGOS

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