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Francis Maude hits back at Bernard Jenkin's criticism of the Government's "bonfire of the quangos"

By Jonathan Isaby

There has been much coverage this morning - in the front page of the Guardian for example - of the Public Administration Select Committee's report into the Government's plans to scrap quangos.

Committee chairman Bernard Jenkin has been touring the TV and radio studios to speak to the report, which accuses the Government variously of not saving money through its reforms, failing to deliver improved accountability and failing to consult meaningfully about the changes.

Here's Mr Jenkin's interview with BBC Breakfast this morning:

Francis Maude 2010 But Cabinet Office Minister, Francis Maude, has hit back, saying:

"Reform of public bodies is long overdue and our plans will bring about the largest scale reform of the public bodies landscape in a generation. While we agree with the committee that the existing system was chaotic, the Government saw this as all the more reason to tackle it. We have taken the difficult decisions necessary to make change in this area.

"The report seems to suggest that the review was a top down exercise, driven by the centre. This was not the case. The review was a decentralised process, led by departments with the overall aim to increase accountability for activities carried out by the state.

"The process from the beginning was clear, which is why we were able to move so quickly. Departments assessed their public bodies against strict criteria. One of the main purposes of the changes is to improve accountability and stop the days of excessive meddling and confusing accountabilities, which has been part of the problem in recent years. We should also not forget there was a real hunger for change - people were fed up with a complex system where the Ministers they elected could avoid taking responsibility for difficult and tough decisions by hiding behind a Chief Executive of one of these quangos and again we fundamentally do not agree with the committee that our reform will not improve accountability.

"We remain committed to seeing it through and making the reforms that the British public demand; and to stop the meddling and expense created by unaccountable bureaucrats."

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