I do not accept that the Treasury is exclusively qualified to carry out that task. The powerful joint commission of both Houses of Parliament that we propose could be equally tough in safeguarding value for money for the taxpayer. The Bill leaves such questions unanswered. It does not tell us about the special funding arrangements—to which the Financial Secretary referred on Second Reading—that should be determined by Parliament.
Although the Financial Secretary has made it clear that he is not prepared to accept our overall parliamentary model for the whole scope of the new structures, would he be prepared to consider other alternatives to increase Parliament’s involvement in scrutinising the funding and budget process?
Most importantly, the Financial Secretary has an opportunity to clarify how the five-yearly review to which he referred on Second Reading will operate. He could also reassure us that measures will be taken to avoid the politicised interference in the budget that, for example, the ESRC fears. We need a clear indication of how the new arrangements will work and how they will secure the genuine independence of the statistical services.