Budget Responsibility and National Audit Bill [Lords]

Part of the debate – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:30 am on 1 March 2011.

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Photo of Justine Greening Justine Greening The Economic Secretary to the Treasury 10:30, 1 March 2011

I beg to move,

That—

(1) the Committee shall (in addition to its first meeting at 10.30 am on Tuesday 1 March) meet—

(a) at 4.00 pm on Tuesday 1 March;

(b) at 9.00 am and 1.00 pm on Thursday 3 March;

(c) at 10.30 am and 4.00 pm on Tuesday 8 March;

(2) the proceedings shall be taken in the following order: Clauses 1 to 9; Schedule 1; Clauses 10 to 20; Schedule 2; Clauses 21 and 22; Schedule 3; Clauses 23 to 26; Schedules 4 and 5; Clause 27; Schedule 6; Clauses 28 to 31; new Clauses; new Schedules; remaining proceedings on the Bill.

(3) The proceedings on the Bill shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion at 7.00 pm on Tuesday 8th March.

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Dr McCrea, and I look forward to your skill in chairing the Committee over the coming sittings. I also welcome the other members of the Committee.

The Bill is important, as it puts the new independent Office for Budget Responsibility on a statutory footing, and puts in place reforms to the corporate governance of the National Audit Office. As members of the Committee will be aware, the Bill has already been debated extensively in the other place, and has also benefited from the inquiry undertaken by the Treasury Committee. I am  pleased to say that the Bill is very much in line with the recommendations in that Committee’s report, and it has also been improved by Lords amendments.

I hope that all members of the Committee agree that the programme motion is sensible and non-controversial, but they might have noticed that, contrary to customary practice, the motion proposes that we deal with schedule 1 after clause 9. That is because it makes most sense to debate the functions and the remit of the Office for Budget Responsibility before we consider its governance structure. Schedule 1 is first mentioned in clause 3 because we cannot discuss the remit of the office before it is technically set up by an earlier clause. Clause 3 establishes the office, and the Bill then moves on, in clause 4 and beyond, to consider the office’s duties and remit, with schedule 1 setting out the governance framework. Hopefully, that means that members of the Committee have the chance to debate what the Office for Budget Responsibility will be doing and, in the light of that, can look at how it should be structured and what the governance arrangements should be. The National Audit Office schedules will be debated in the usual order. I look forward to the forthcoming debate.