Thursday, October 09, 2008

At (H)Arms Length

When should government be in charge and when should control be at arms' length?

Is it a question of governance or ideology, or both, or neither?

Most criticism of the One Wales plans for an NHS reorganisation (removing most vestiges of that introduced by Vale of Glamorgan Labour AM, Jane Hutt, when she was Health Secretary) have centered upon the fact that Edwina Hart has drawn powers in which she will control and nominate board members.

It is argued that this makes the NHS politicised (as if a free national health service wasn't political enough!) .

On the other hand, a major point of conflict at Westminster over the recent months in the Planning Bill has been the creation of an Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC) which would make National Planning Statements and take decisions out of the hands of politicians.

This then removes the accountability of decision making, so goes the argument.

When, then, should government hold powers to make decisions themselves, and when should there be quasi-autonomous non-governmental organisations formed to keep these decisions at arms length from political interference?


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