National Audit Office

Oral Answers to Questions — Public Accounts Commission – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 3rd April 1995.

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Photo of Mr John Marshall Mr John Marshall , Hendon South 12:00 am, 3rd April 1995

To ask the Chairman of the Public Accounts Commission how many economists are employed by the National Audit Office. [15738]

Photo of Mr Peter Hordern Mr Peter Hordern , Horsham

The National Audit Office employs some 550 staff, who either have accountancy qualifications or are training for them. Of those, 60 have degrees in economics, although none are full-time professional economists. The office conducts a wide range of studies. When specialised advice is needed on relevant economic issues, the NAO uses external experts.

Photo of Mr John Marshall Mr John Marshall , Hendon South

Will my right hon. Friend ask one of those highly trained individuals to discover why we have computer-readable passports but inadequate computers at ports of entry?

Photo of Mr Peter Hordern Mr Peter Hordern , Horsham

I am familiar with the report to which my hon. Friend refers and I understand that the Public Accounts Commission has already considered it. It shows the good work which the National Audit Office does for the House and for Parliament generally in inquiring into administration rather than policy. It has also revealed that the index of suspects, which has some 340,000 names on it, is held in a manual that is updated by hand every day. It is hoped to move to a computer index soon, though some hon. Members may consider that that should have been done before.