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Public Accounts Committee

Volume 130: debated on Monday 21 March 1988

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To ask the Chairman of the Public Accounts Commission if he will give details of the occasions since 1986 when the Public Accounts Commission has received advice from the Public Accounts Committee under section 4(2) and (3) of the National Audit Act 1983.

The Public Accounts Commission considered and approved the National Audit Office's proposed Estimates for the financial years 1987–88 and 1988–89 at its meetings on 3 February 1987 and 15 December 1987 respectively. Before approving the Estimates the Commission had regard to the advice of the Public Accounts Committee as it is obliged to do.

Has the Public Accounts Committee advised the Commission on the number of National Audit Office reports issued to Parliament? Will the hon. Gentleman also give us his own view on whether enough time is allowed on the Floor of the House for these very important reports to be debated for the benefit of hon. Members on both sides of the House?

Yes, Sir. We understand from the Public Accounts Committee that the National Audit Office is expecting to produce 50 reports a year by 1992–93, which is a significant increase.

As to the second part of the hon. Gentleman's question, much as I should like to give my personal view, I am happy to say that my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House is a member of the Commission and no doubt heard what the hon. Gentleman had to say.

Will my hon. Friend confirm that one of the matters on which the PAC has given such advice— he was involved in this — was the need for a decent salary for the Comptroller and Auditor General for Northern Ireland? In view of the serious staffing difficulties in that regard, is he pressing Ministers to ensure that the matter is soon resolved?

I can tell my hon. Friend that one of the matters that the PAC is considering at present is the salary of the Comptroller and Auditor General for Northern Ireland.