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BBC Accounts

Volume 514: debated on Monday 26 July 2010

9. What progress has been made on implementation of the proposals set out in the coalition agreement to give the National Audit Office full access to the BBC’s accounts. (10678)

I had a brief meeting with the chair of the BBC Trust last month. My officials are now working with the BBC Trust to ensure that the commitment is achieved by November 2011, as announced in the Department’s structural reform plan, in a way that preserves the BBC’s editorial independence.

The move by part of the BBC from London to Salford has been good value for the licence payer, good for the north-west and will be good for the BBC. Does the Under-Secretary agree that it would be useful for the National Audit Office to consider moving further functions of the BBC from inside the M25 to the north-west, particularly Salford?

That is not a matter for the National Audit Office, which examines how the BBC spends its money, but for the BBC and the BBC Trust.

Is there any real justification for not opening up the BBC accounts to the National Audit Office and the Public Accounts Committee, especially given that one of the Secretary of State’s reasons for cutting the licence fee was deficit reduction? I am not sure whether the BBC accounts would rack up against the public finances in quite that way.

Forgive me, Mr Speaker, but I am not quite sure what point the hon. Gentleman is making. It is a coalition Government commitment that the National Audit Office should have full access to the BBC’s accounts by November 2011 in order to ensure value for money and public accountability.