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Last Updated: Tuesday, 30 November, 2004, 16:31 GMT
Three more quangos scrapped
Rhodri Morgan

Three more quangos are to be axed, First Minister Rhodri Morgan has announced following a review of the future of unelected bodies in Wales.

The Welsh Language Board, the qualifications and curriculum authority ACCAC and Health Professions Wales will have their duties and staff transferred to the assembly government.

Three other quangos will also lose much of their responsibilities.

The way the process was carried out has been criticised by opposition parties.

And Meri Huws, the chair of the Welsh Language Board, has warned that the work of the body recent years must be protected.

The three quangos which will lose power are the Wales-wide councils for arts, sport and the countryside

Quangos - facts and figures
Quango stands for Quasi Autonomous Non Governmental Organisation
They are non-elected organisations that oversee areas such as the arts, sport and the environment
The Welsh Language Board is a quango to monitor, implement and comment on Welsh language policy.
Between them, they spend more than half a billion pounds and employ more than 2,000 people.
The three biggest are the Welsh Development Agency, the training and education body, Elwa, and the Wales Tourist Board
The WDA has more than 900 staff, Elwa has almost 500 and the tourist board more than 100

The Arts Council of Wales and Sports Council for Wales will become grant-giving bodies only and will no longer be responsible for strategy, policy and planning in their fields.

The Countryside Council for Wales will no longer be responsible for implementing the Tir Gofal agri-environment scheme.

In July, Mr Morgan announced that three of the largest quangos, the Welsh Development Agency, Wales Tourist Board and Education Learning Wales (Elwa) , would cease to exist by 2006.

Tuesday's move, announced in the assembly, will see around 240 staff transferred to the assembly government and should be in place by 2007.

Mr Morgan said most people would still be surprised by the number of bodies that administer government policy in Wales.

"It really was about time we did something about that," he said.

It is obvious that this policy has been drawn up on the back of a fag packet.
Tory AM Alun Cairns

"Bringing in the 'Big Three' in July was a major step, and in this announcement we have gone a long way towards completing the job we started," he said.

"This is a significant further shrinkage in the quango state."

He added he was determined that continuity of business would be maintained.

An assembly government spokesman said that no absolute guarantees could be given that no jobs would be lost, but denied that this was a job efficiency exercise.

Health Professions Wales, which oversees training for NHS staff, was only set up in July.

'Embarrassing'

No significant changes have been proposed for the structure of the National Library of Wales or the National Museums and Galleries of Wales but their relationship with the assembly government will be "strengthened".

And no changes have been proposed for the structure of the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales or the Care Council for Wales.

The Welsh Conservatives described Tuesday's announcement as "an embarrassing climb-down".

South Wales West AM Alun Cairns, said: "It is obvious that this policy has been drawn up on the back of a fag packet.

"Rhodri Morgan promised a bonfire of the quangos but has pulled five of them from the flames because he didn't bother to do his homework properly."

Plaid assembly leader Ieuan Wyn Jones said the assembly government "had not thought this process through properly".

"Rhodri Morgan is more concerned about headlines in the papers rather than what is best for Wales," he said.

Welsh Lib Dem assembly leader Mike German described the announcement as "a soaking wet squib".




END OF THE QUANGOS

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

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