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Alex Deane: When has a public inquiry been a success?

Meandering, ill-defined judicial inquiries are like buses - you wait ages, and then two come along at once. At least, that will be the case if Ed MIliband has his way on the banking sector.

In my view, this kind of long-grass-punting is A Bad Thing. Politicians like Miliband talk as if judicial inquiries are the "tough option" - but, for politicos at least, they're the softest of options. Easy to call for, hard to resist. But politicians themselves should take responsibility for running inquiries and forming policies - because they are accountable to us at the ballot box, and we can punish them if we think they get it wrong. I think that it's a serious abrogation of their responsibilities when their work is punted to the judiciary.

But even if I'm wrong in principle, when has this worked in practice? Let's look at recent precedents. Anyone want to make the case that Saville or Hutton satisfied (or Leveson will satisfy) the point which concerned the public in the first place? Anyone notice that they were (are) incredibly expensive and took (are taking) forever and a day?

Can you think of one that's worked?


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