IT is easy to see why monster operations such as the Post Office and the BBC were never privatised. With a bit of luck, digital competition will continue to nibble away at them until they are no longer the monoliths the state tried to protect. Yet there are other entities that look so ripe for liberalisation that their continued existence in the armpit of government is baffling.
Let us consider British Waterways, which owns Britains canals. To most of us, it is a remnant of our industrial heritage; a footnote in our bustling freight industries. Yet this is a fine candidate for bringing to the market.
British Waterways is an agency of the permanently dopey and wrong headed Defra, with a courtesy nod to the Scottish Executive for its northerly bits. This curious hybrid, part quango and part state corporation, owns 2,000 miles, or as the European Union insists it be termed, 3,219 kilometres of canals, rivers, docks, wharfs and buildings. It is also custodian of notable engineering structures and some lovely landscapes. Owning 130 Ancient Monuments and 100 Sites of Special Scientific Interest which I assume means rare newts in the water or rare bats under its bridges British Waterways boasts an engaging portfolio of eccen