Budget Responsibility and National Audit Bill [Lords]

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

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Kerry McCarthy Kerry McCarthy Shadow Minister (Treasury) 10:30, 1 March 2011

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Dr McCrea. I welcome all Members to the Committee.

As the Minister has said, there was a fair degree of debate on the Bill in the other place, and in the Treasury Committee and on Second Reading in this place, and we made it clear on Second Reading that we do not oppose the general thrust of the Bill. We have, however, tabled a significant number of amendments that challenge some of the detail. In seeking to put on a statutory footing an institution such as the Office for Budget Responsibility, which has been running for a while on a non-statutory basis, it is important that we get the framework absolutely right. Some of the amendments seek to get the office working properly and, above all, to ensure that its workings are as transparent as they can be, given the sometimes confidential nature of its work, and that it is accountable to parliamentary institutions. We agree that the six sittings that have been timetabled will probably give us enough time thoroughly to debate the Bill and to give it the attention it deserves.

A point was raised at the Programming Sub-Committee yesterday about whether schedule 1 should be considered after clause 3, which is when it is introduced in the Bill. Our view is that it would be more appropriate to follow the normal practice and deal with schedule 1 at that point. I do not accept the Minister’s argument that it is better to look at what the Office for Budget Responsibility will be doing before looking at its structure and how it is governed. That is a point on which we disagreed yesterday, but we will go along with the programme motion.

Quite a lot of things, such as the charter, are not included in the Bill. I will come to that point in my amendments. It is disappointing that the Committee will not have the opportunity more thoroughly to debate what is included in the charter.