Bus Services Bill [HL] - Committee (2nd Day) (Continued)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 6:30 pm on 4th July 2016.

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Photo of Baroness Scott of Needham Market Baroness Scott of Needham Market Liberal Democrat 6:30 pm, 4th July 2016

I am grateful to all noble Lords who have taken part in the debate on this set of amendments, and to the Minister for his customary care and courtesy. However, I am afraid that I am not entirely reassured, as I think that there is a fundamental misunderstanding about what constitutes being independent. I recognise that you would, of course, go to a reputable firm of auditors. However, the person who sets the contract and pays the bill for the audit retains ultimate control. That is always the way. Anyone who has worked in this area knows that there are all sorts of ways in which the process can be subverted. This is a very important issue and involves great risk for the taxpayer, particularly in these mayoral models, where we know that the oversight of the mayoral function is not as strong as it used to be in the old days when people like me had committees which spent a lot of time going through these things. Given particularly the concerns expressed in the Public Accounts Committee report published on Friday, I think there is a need to return to this question, at least informally.