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Parish Councils: Audit

Volume 465: debated on Thursday 25 October 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what representations her Department received from the Audit Commission to reform sections 15 and 16 of the Audit Commission Act 1998 in relation to the inspection of accounts and the fees levied on parish councils for carrying out such inspections. (157656)

The Audit Commission made representations seeking reform of sections 15 (Inspection of documents and questions at audit) and 16 (Right to make objections at audit) of the Audit Commission Act 1998 in October 2005. These representations were considered and amendments to those sections are proposed in the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Bill. These amendments, respectively, place restrictions on the rights of individuals to see personal information which is included within audited accounts, and withdraw objectors’ rights to appear before the auditor to make objections, thereby limiting objections to those made in writing.

The Audit Commission made further representations to the Department to reform sections 15 and 16 of the 1998 Act in June 2006.

The representations in relation to section 15 asked for the section to be repealed, arguing that persons can already obtain information from auditors under the Freedom of Information Act 2000. The representations in relation to section 16 asked for the section to be repealed, arguing that the right to make objections at audit is more efficiently met in other ways.

These proposals are not included in the Bill currently before Parliament. Assurances have been given to the Audit Commission that these proposals will be carefully considered at the next legislative opportunity.