Government Trading Funds Bill

Part of New Schedule – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 19th June 1973.

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Photo of Mr John Nott Mr John Nott , St Ives 12:00 am, 19th June 1973

Most certainly.

The accounts of the organisation will continue to be audited by the Comptroller and Auditor General and will therefore be subject to scrutiny not only by the House itself, but by the Public Accounts Committee. We hope that the accounts will become more significant and useful, and the Bill provides for them to be supplemented by additional information about the overall performance of the organisation, probably in the form known in the jargon as "performance indicators". That is something on which we are working.

The trading fund organistion will remain the direct responsibility of Ministers and the staff will remain civil servants. It will be possible, as now, for hon. Members to put down Questions or write to a Minister about the organisation's activities. Following the passage of the Bill, there will first be the orders setting up the particular trading fund and as I have said, this will require an affirmative resolution.

Any subsequent increase in the borrowing limit for a particular organisation will require an order subject to a negative resolution procedure. In due course, if the trading fund system is a success, it will be necessary to introduce new legislation to increase the present borrowing limit of £250 million. This will give the House an opportunity to review the operation of the whole system.

I commend the Bill to the Committee as one which will make a modest but useful step in the direction of improved management and accountability of certain trading funds within government.