Some 177 quangos 'to be scrapped' by the government

The Cabinet Office said the leak was "irresponsible".

During the election, the Conservatives promised to cutback on quangos, although, after becoming prime minister, David Cameron was keen to distance himself from the "bonfire of the quangos" pledged in the past.

Nevertheless, the prime minister has insisted cuts are necessary, not just to save money but for democratic accountability.

Defenders of quangos believe many of them carry out essential functions.

The Telegraph listed the 177 quangos it found in the leaked government.

A spokeswoman for the Cabinet Office said: "We are not going to comment on the specific details of a leaked document.

"The government has made it clear that it is committed to radically increasing accountability and improving efficiency."

She explained that work is already under way to make substantial reforms to public bodies, and "an announcement will be made in due course".

The spokeswoman added: "We deeply regret any extra uncertainty for employees that this irresponsible leak has caused."