Points of Order

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:17 pm on 24th February 2021.

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Photo of Meg Hillier Meg Hillier Chair, Public Accounts Committee, Chair, Public Accounts Committee 2:17 pm, 24th February 2021

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. In a previous urgent question, a Minister came to the House and cited the National Audit Office in support of arguments that he was making about the procurement of personal protective equipment in the middle of the pandemic. This is a growing trend. Ministers come to the House, or appear in the media, and cite the National Audit Office, as though comments in those report are a conclusion and a determination by the National Audit Office.

Will you help the House and Ministers, Madam Deputy Speaker, by telling me and others how Mr Speaker can enforce the understanding that the National Audit Office is an independent body, headed by the Comptroller and Auditor General, who is an officer of this House, and whose integrity should never be questioned, and that reference to the NAO should never be used in an improper way in this House or in the media to back up arguments that it does not back up? I have the privilege of reading all the National Audit Office reports, and I see them in the round. We are all careful with this, but it would be very helpful if you could rule as Chair on what you think could be done to improve how these reports are used by Ministers in particular.