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National Audit Office Expenditure

Volume 619: debated on Thursday 19 January 2017

My Committee approves the NAO’s future plans and resource requirements. The Commission is conscious of the need for the NAO to practise what it preaches in terms of value for money, and also to have the right capability to perform its duties.

Since 2010-11, the NAO has, under our direction, reduced the cost of its work by 26% in real terms, excluding new local government work. The NAO’s budget is set to ensure that it has the resources that it needs to discharge its statutory functions to Parliament, while also meeting the external quality standards that govern its audit work.

Now that this country is leaving the European Union with the clear vision set out the other day by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, can my hon. Friend say what impact he believes that that will have on the NAO and the auditing of its accounts?

It is obviously too early to say what the full impact of Brexit will be, but I can say that the NAO’s scrutiny will focus initially on the capacity and capability of Departments to deliver an effective and efficient exit process. The NAO is now the auditor of the new Department for Exiting the European Union, and will work with that Department and with the Treasury to ensure that disclosures in annual reports and accounts provide a transparent and balanced view of the impact on individual Departments. In my view, the whole point of this process is, indeed, to increase transparency and parliamentary accountability as we take back control of our own money.

More than 60% of the existing NAO reports and investigations cover matters that exclude Scotland. Does the Chairman agree that Barnett consequentials should arise from that expenditure?

I serve on the Procedure Committee, and we do discuss such matters. This is more a matter for the Committee than for the commission, but I can say that it is undoubtedly true that there will be Barnett consequentials.