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Ulster Polytechnic

Volume 984: debated on Thursday 15 May 1980

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asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1) if he will take steps to secure better management of the public funds which are allocated to the governors of the Ulster Polytechnic;(2) whether his responsibility for public funds extends beyond the making of such payments as are provided for by Parliament, to embrace value for money and cost effectiveness of the beneficiary body, including particularly the Ulster Polytechnic;(3) what responsibility the Departments of Education and Finance have, by statute or custom, to keep under scrutiny the general performance of the governors and rector of the Ulster Polytechnic, and in particular, developments which could generate a claim on voted moneys;(4) whether audit by the Comptroller and Auditor-General for Northern Ireland includes the examination of the economy and efficiency with which funds allocated to the Ulster Polytechnic by the research councils are spent; and, if not, who is responsible for such examination.

The overall cost effectiveness and value for money of the policies pursued in respect of all beneficiary bodies, including the Ulster Polytechnic, are considerations which the Government constantly keep in mind.The respective responsibilities of the Departments of Education and Finance and of the governors of the Ulster Polytechnic in regard to the financing and conduct of the polytechnic are laid down in the Ulster College Act (Northern Ireland) 1968 and the Ulster College Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1978. The Government have no plans to change the existing arrangements whereby the day to day administration of the polytechnic, including the management of its financial affairs, is the responsibility of the governors of the Polytechnic.In accordance with section 9 of the Ulster College Act (Northern Ireland) 1968, the accounts of the polytechnic are audited by auditors appointed by the governors. The Comptroller and Auditor General for Northern Ireland examines the accounts certified by these auditors and reports on them.Responsibility for ensuring the economy and efficiency of grants made by the Research Council is primarily a matter for those councils, whose grant-in-aid accounts are audited by the Comptroller and Auditer General.