Edmund Conway writing in today's Telegraph says "The Conservatives should also set a specific target to which they will reduce the size of the public burden and the tax burden". Erm. Yes, Edmund. But why do you suppose that not a single government has managed to achieve that in the past two generations?
Using executive fiat to control the amount that the executive spends doesn't work. No matter who's the minister, the executive doesn't do executive restraint - fact.
The cost of government has ballooned because there's no longer any effective restraint over how the executive spends our money. Estimates debates in the Commons are an exercise in rubber stamping. Budget Day is reduced to poor theatre. Instead, the myriad of quangos don't have anyone properly accountable to taxpayers overseeing how they spend our money. The result is massive waste, project delays - and the ever rising cost of government.
If we're serious about curtailing the fiscal (and other) excesses of the executive, we need to allow the legislature - not a panel of technocrats - to rein them in. Were technocratic oversight of quango spending the solution, Italy would never have had a budget deficit, and the our own National Audit Office would have curbed government excess.
Why not require each of the 800+ quangos to submit an annual budget to the relevant select committee of the Commons for annual approval? Don’t stop at quangos, why not require each department to have its annual budget submitted for such approval?
No approval, no money. Simple. It’d focus a few minds.
It'd also give them something meaningful to do in SW1 - and it'd mean many fewer botched contracts and wasted money.
See? It's not beyond the wit of an MP to write something pithy, intelligent and worth reading. It's even worth implementing.