4.2 Bonfire of the Quangos
Whilst the Richard Commission undertook its review, Labour First Minister Rhodri Morgan made a surprise announcement on 14 July 2004 which significantly altered the way public services in Wales were run. In a statement to AMs, he announced plans to ‘abolish the quango state’. He said:
The time has come to move forward the devolution project onwards and upwards. We intend to incorporate the major executive quangos directly under the Assembly Government.
The move saw the functions and staff of multiple public service bodies – including the Welsh Development Agency, the Welsh Tourism Board and curriculum and qualifications authority – merged into the Welsh Assembly Government and made accountable to Ministers.
In addition to giving the Welsh Assembly Government ‘more firepower’ as Rhodri Morgan put it at the time, it was also intended to increase accountability.