National Audit Office

Oral Answers to Questions — Public Accounts Commission – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 15th July 1991.

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Photo of Mr Geoffrey Dickens Mr Geoffrey Dickens , Littleborough and Saddleworth 12:00 am, 15th July 1991

To ask the Chairman of the Public Accounts Commission what representations he has received regarding the sufficiency of the National Audit Office's funding to ensure adequate coverage of all Government Departments.

Photo of Mr Peter Hordern Mr Peter Hordern , Horsham

In considering the adequacy of funding for the National Audit office, the Public Accounts Commission takes into account the proposals of the Comptroller and Auditor General as set out in the National Audit Office corporate plan, together with the views of the Public Accounts Committee and the Treasury. The Commission has received no other representations.

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Dickens Mr Geoffrey Dickens , Littleborough and Saddleworth

I am obliged to my hon. Friend for that answer. Will he confirm that the quality of audits is beyond dispute and that they are absolutely first class? Nowadays shoppers and everybody else seek value for money. Is my hon. Friend satisfied that sufficient value-for-money audits take place? Are people getting value for money from Government Departments, and is my hon. Friend satisfied that they have sufficient audits?

Photo of Mr Peter Hordern Mr Peter Hordern , Horsham

I agree with my hon. Friend that value for money from Government Departments is at least as important for Government Departments as it is for the consumer. I am happy to tell him that there were 43 value-for-money exercises last year and 47 this year, and that there will be 50 next year and each year thereafter. The House can be grateful to the Comptroller and Auditor General, his staff and other firms for the time and experience that they devote to value-for-money exercises in Government Departments.

Photo of Mr Cecil Franks Mr Cecil Franks , Barrow and Furness

Will my right hon. Friend inquire of the Audit Commission whether it has recently investigated the activities of a well-known firm of local bookmakers in Cumbria called Barrow city council? This organization—

Photo of Mr Bernard Weatherill Mr Bernard Weatherill , Croydon North East

Order. The hon. Gentleman must ask questions relating to the Public Accounts Commission.

Photo of Mr Cecil Franks Mr Cecil Franks , Barrow and Furness

I am asking my hon. Friend to inquire of the Audit Commission about this firm of bookmakers which has managed—

Photo of Mr Cecil Franks Mr Cecil Franks , Barrow and Furness

Surely the Public Accounts Commission has an interest in this firm of bookmakers which over the past three years has managed to blow £4·5 million, including recently £1·2 million on the Bank of Credit and Commerce International. Perhaps that firm of bookmakers did not realise that a horse which was doped in the United States should not be running in local races in Cumbria.

Sir Peter Horden:

I have to tell my hon. Friend, with some disappointment, that the Public Accounts Commission has no authority over the Audit Commission, which looks after local government. We are responsible for the National Audit Office. Much as I think that the Public Accounts Commission would like to look at a firm of bookmakers, that does not come within its ambit.

Photo of Mr Christopher Butler Mr Christopher Butler , Warrington South

Does the National Audit Office have enough money to look into the premature closure of the nuclear structure facility at Daresbury, which seems to involve a scandalous waste of taxpayers' money?

Sir Peter Horden:

I have not heard about this one, but I shall draw the attention of the Comptroller and Audit General to it, and write to my hon. Friend.