Thursday, 30 December 2010

One more Quango bites the dust!

Tomorrow is the last day of existence of the QUANGO the National Women's Commission. It was founded in 1969 by Harold Wilson to, "ensure by all possible means that the informed opinion of women is given its due weight in the deliberation of government". All rather patronising stuff from the 1960s mindset.

It mainly represents women's groups and of course the views of it's commissioners. In 2007, Harriet Harmann reshaped it to be a body that would give her the views of women. Unfortunately, the commission appears to be dominated by middle class women from very privileged backgrounds. Of the 15 commissioners, 5 are very involved in politics, including the chair. 4 are prominent members of the Labour party and another stood for the Greens. Others have strong far left backgrounds. Not uncommon in the women's network but certainly not representative of women as a whole.

Records revealed from 1980 showed that then Government found it's role "extraordinarily vague". The person reviewing QUANGOs at the time, Sir Leo Pliatzky,was interested in getting rid of it. But Thatcher felt it would be too controversial and told him to "leave it well alone".

The QUANGO is like many small Non Departmental Public Bodies (NDPB) that continue despite being well past it's sell by date because it is too much hassle to get rid of it. Last year the WNC had a budget of £661,000. Not a lot in the greater scheme of things compared to government expenditure but there are quite a few similar bodies. I am sure the women's groups will continue to work through groups such as the National Women's register and Women's Aid. It is right that the views of women are represented through the independent voluntary sector which is far more impartial and campaigning. And groups like the Fawcett society will continue to campaign for women's rights. The new Equality Act also opens up new avenues. So half a million saved, only a few billion more to go!

No comments:

Post a Comment