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Consolidated and National Loans Funds: Payments Out

Orders of the Day — Government Resources and Accounts Bill – in the House of Commons at 5:45 am on 29th February 2000.

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Photo of Stephen Timms Stephen Timms The Financial Secretary to the Treasury 5:45 am, 29th February 2000

I beg to move amendment No. 36, in page 2, leave out lines 15 to 24 and insert—

  1. '(1) Subsection (2) applies to a requisition or order under—
    1. (a) section 13 or 15 of the Exchequer and Audit Departments Act 1866 (payments out of the Consolidated Fund), or
    2. (b) section 1(3) of the National Loans Act 1968 (payments out of the National Loans Fund).
  2. (2) A requisition or order to which this subsection applies—
    1. (a) may be produced, authenticated and transmitted in any manner which the Treasury, with the approval of the Comptroller and Auditor General, decide to adopt, but
    2. (b) shall be accompanied by evidence of the approval of two officers of the Treasury appointed for that purpose.
  3. (3) A request or order under section 20 of the Exchequer and Audit Departments Act 1866 (government stock and annuities) may be produced, authenticated and transmitted in any manner which the Treasury decide to adopt.'.
The amendment provides for Consolidated Fund and national loans fund credit requisitions and payment orders to be approved by two officers of the Treasury from a panel of authorised signatories. It builds on amendments tabled in Committee by the right hon. Member for Haltemprice and Howden (Mr. Davis) and my right hon. Friend the Member for Swansea, West (Mr. Williams), which we accepted in principle. This amendment takes them forward.

The amendments tabled in Committee would have required that Consolidated Fund credit requisitions be approved by a duly authorised officer of the Treasury. Current practice is for such requisitions to be approved by two such officers, rather than one. That applies also to national loans fund requisitions and to payment instructions for both funds. We think that the Bill should make that current practice a statutory requirement, and our amendment achieves that.

The amendment also restructures much of clause 3 to make it clear that the form of requests under section 20 of the Exchequer and Audit Departments Act 1866, unlike those relating to payments from the Consolidated Fund and the national loans fund, do not need to be approved by the CAG.

I hope that the amendment will be welcomed by the whole House.

Photo of Oliver Letwin Oliver Letwin Conservative, West Dorset

I will perhaps surprise the Minister by telling him that I welcome the amendment. I have been unable to find anything in it to complain about, so I shall shut up and continue to welcome it in silence.

Photo of David Davis David Davis Chair, Public Accounts Committee, Chair, Public Accounts Committee

As I was one of the Members who raised the matter, I shall say briefly that I welcome the amendment, which seems entirely constructive and proper.

Amendment agreed to.