Bonfires and barbecues: coalition governance and the politics of Quango reform

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The use of arm's-length bodies to deliver certain services, to regulate certain sectors or to assume responsibility for particularly salient political issues is neither new in historical terms or a feature unique to the UK in comparative terms. What is particularly distinctive, however, is the Coalition Government's attempts since 2010 to reduce the number of ‘quangos’ while also strengthening the capacity of the core executive and sponsor departments to control and co-ordinate this dense and fragmented sphere of delegated governance. Drawing upon the findings of the first research project to analyse the current Public Bodies Reform Agenda, this article provides an account of the ‘filling-in’ of the ‘hollowing out’. It argues that when viewed through a historical lens, the Coalition Government has adopted a distinctive approach to ‘the quango problem’.



Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)56-80
Number of pages25
JournalContemporary British History
Issue number1
Early online date6 Feb 2014
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Bibliographic note

This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Contemporary British History on 6/2/14, available online:


  • hollowing-out, quangos, delegation, accountability, governance, filling-in

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