Citizens Charter

Oral Answers to Questions — Duchy of Lancaster – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 21st November 1994.

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Mr. William O'Brien:

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he intends to extend the practice of the citizens charter to non-elected spending bodies; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Mr David Hunt Mr David Hunt , Wirral West

The citizens charter applies to all public services.

Mr. O'Brien:

Does the Minister accept that there are now more appointed people on quangos than elected members of local authorities? Since unelected bodies are responsible for handling £46 billion, far in excess of the amount that local authorities handle, will he insist that there are published charters from the unelected bodies so that people may judge them? If there is disquiet among people who receive service from the quangos, would he also take action to remove the people who are causing that disquiet?

Photo of Mr David Hunt Mr David Hunt , Wirral West

Let me point out to the hon. Gentleman that non-departmental public bodies, or quangos as he calls them, have reduced in number by 36 per cent. since 1979. Indeed, the Labour party would take us back up in numbers. In its recent policy statements, it has talked about the creation of many more quangos. All the citizens charter's provisions covering published standards, openness and information, choice and consultation, courtesy and helpfulness redress matters when things go wrong and value for money applies right across the public sector to all public services.

Photo of Mr John Marshall Mr John Marshall , Hendon South

Does my right hon. Friend agree that some of the most important non-elected bodies are those which run the national health service trust hospitals, which have been responsible for increasing the number of patients treated and significantly reducing waiting lists? Is not that a success story which we should shout loudly?

Photo of Mr David Hunt Mr David Hunt , Wirral West

My hon. Friend is right. It contrasts starkly with the position when we came into office in 1979, when a local hospital did not even know what its budget was.

Now, there is much more devolution locally, standards are improving all the time, and record numbers of patients are being treated. That is a tremendous success story to which he is right to pay tribute.