To ask the Chairman of the Public Accounts Commission what account the Public Accounts Commission takes in examining the estimates submitted for its approval by the Comptroller and Auditor General of his broad priorities for the deployment of his staff to monitor overspending by Government Departments; and if he will make a statement.
Should not the Public Accounts Commission and the Comptroller and Auditor General have as their foremost priority control of defence costs? Millions of pounds are overspent or wasted. Such events are commonplace. Will the Public Accounts Commission undertake to insist that the Ministry of Defence publishes all overspends of £1 million and over? It refuses to do so at the moment. Should not public money wasted in that way be subject to public scrutiny?
The Public Accounts Commission does not look into defence spending, although we approve the estimates of the National Audit Office as a whole. I advise the hon. Gentleman to raise the matter with the right hon. Member for Ashton-under-Lyne (Mr. Sheldon), the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, since I recollect from my experience of the PAC that overspending on defence is a matter that is considered frequently by that Committee.