Clause 6 - Accounts and audit
Police (Northern Ireland) Bill [Lords]
3:15 pm

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Mr David Wilshire

Mr David Wilshire (Spelthorne, Conservative)

My only concern about the clause is why in principle we are making such changes at all. I am anxious that the clause should not pass on the nod, without a debate.

In relation to subsection (3), I would be grateful if the Minister explained why it is necessary to spell out the amounts, given that the 2000 Act has only a general statement of all amounts. We have moved from a general assertion of what might happen to a more specific one. I would be grateful if the Minister explained the reasoning behind that, particularly if the reasoning is that the previous arrangements for audit have been found to be too weak. We need an explanation of where the problems have been in the past, because it will be necessary, if the clause is designed to rectify such problems, to be certain that the way in which they will be rectified will work.

I might wish to speak again in the light of what the Minister says. I look forward to hearing her comments.

Photo of Ms Angela Smith

Ms Angela Smith (Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Northern Ireland Office; Basildon, Labour/Co-operative)

I think that I can help the hon. Gentleman. The reason for the drafting of the clause is the new FRS 17 accounting standards, which require employers who pay pensions out of their own resources to show in their account full details for schemes, liabilities and assets. That has to be recorded separately, and we do not want it to overshadow or draw attention away from the record of the core financial performance of the police.

The clause amends the provisions of the 2000 Act relating to accounts and the audit of the grant for policing purposes. Taking into account FRS 17, it requires the board to draw up four separate accounts for the four separate strands of money handled by the police: first, amounts placed at the Chief Constable's disposal for police pension purposes; secondly, amounts placed at the Chief Constable's disposal for other police purposes; thirdly, the police fund provided for in section 28 of the Police (Northern Ireland) Act 1998; and fourthly, the police property fund established by the Police (Disposal of Property) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1974 and falling under section 31 of the 1998 Act.

The statutory police fund is separate from the police fund that is chaired by Sir John Semple. I hope that my reassurance that this accounting measure has been brought forward because of FRS 17 will satisfy the members of the Committee.

Photo of Mr David Wilshire

Mr David Wilshire (Spelthorne, Conservative)

I think that it does, but I am not sure that I followed all of the Under-Secretary's reply. I heard about what has changed, rather than what has made it necessary, which was the purpose of my original query. I will be very happy if the hon. Lady wants to have another go,.

Photo of Ms Angela Smith

Ms Angela Smith (Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Northern Ireland Office; Basildon, Labour/Co-operative)

I thought that I had made it clear that the new accounting standard FRS 17 makes the measure necessary. It will provide greater transparency, which I believe the hon. Gentleman will welcome.

Photo of Mr David Wilshire

Mr David Wilshire (Spelthorne, Conservative)

I clearly did not catch everything that the Under-Secretary said. That is the explanation that I was looking for and it satisfies me entirely.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 6 ordered to stand part of the Bill.