Douglas Carswell

15 DEC 2016

What is the government's problem with confirmation hearings?

Yesterday, I asked a junior minister if he supported confirmation hearings for quangocrats. He seemed to find the very idea offensive. Could it be that ministers are threatened by the prospect of parliamentary power?

David Cameron took office six years ago promising a bonfire of the quangos. It didn't amount to much. There are still hundreds of quangos – along with over 3,000 paid positions on their boards.

No one elects these people, yet they control serious sums of taxpayers' money. If the government won't rein them in, Parliament should.

We need confirmation hearings to make quangocrats accountable. Parliamentary select committees should interview top quango appointees before they take up their post – and, if necessary, veto their appointments.

It's hardly a new idea. President-elect Trump's cabinet picks will all be subject to confirmation hearings in the Senate. In America, powerful officials can't just be appointed without scrutiny. Why should they be here?

British ministers only baulk at confirmation hearings because they don't want to lose their monopoly over patronage. Their own vested interest takes precedence over the public interest.

This year, we broke the stranglehold of the Brussels cartel. The Westminster cartel must be next.

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