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Public Accounts Commission

Volume 617: debated on Thursday 24 November 2016

The hon. Member for Gainsborough, Chairman of the Public Accounts Commission, was asked—

National Audit Office: EU

Order. I think the hon. Gentleman wishes to group this question with question 4, does he not?

1. What assessment the National Audit Office has made of the potential effect of the UK leaving the EU on its work. (907441)

The National Audit Office uses its resources to provide direct support to Parliament and stands ready to support parliamentary scrutiny of Brexit. In my humble view, there should be more, not less, parliamentary scrutiny of Brexit. The NAO is keeping in close touch with Departments as their preparations for exiting the EU develop. This will be a major task for Departments and is likely to include additional work for the NAO, not least the audit of the new Department for Exiting the European Union.

The NAO’s scrutiny will focus initially on the capacity and capability of Departments to deliver an effective and efficient exit process. The NAO will work with all Departments to assess the potential impact of exiting the European Union on their financial performance and position. The NAO is already the auditor of the new Department for Exiting the European Union and will work with it and the Treasury to ensure efficiency.

Following the rather over-pessimistic forecast that we heard about yesterday from the Office for Budget Responsibility, does my hon. Friend agree that it would be interesting to have another independent assessment from the NAO, which might show a more optimistic post-Brexit forecast?

The National Audit Office will not actually assess any economic effects of exiting the EU, but what it can do is ensure that the civil service carries out its task with due diligence and efficiency. I am confident that our civil service, which is one of the most efficient in the world, will do the job properly. The NAO is certainly one of the best auditors in the world, and we will make this process work efficiently and smoothly as best we can.