§ MR. R. MCKENNA (Monmouth, N.)
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury whether the rule that any portion of an unexpended grant remaining in the hands 1234 of the accounting officer on the 31st March is returnable to the Exchequer is based upon statutory provision; and, if not, upon what is it based; and, whether the exception to the above ride in the case of the particular forms of grants called grants-in-aid is permitted by statutory authority?
§ MR. HANBURY
Under Section 24 of the Exchequer and Audit Departments Act, 1866, the only sums chargeable against grants are those which have actually come in course of payment during the year to which the grants relate. The accounting officer of the Department to which the grant is made must produce to the Comptroller and Auditor General vouchers or proofs of payment to show that the money expended by him has been applied to the purpose for which it was intended to provide. Any portion of the grant, in respect of which such vouchers are not forthcoming, remains in the hands of the accounting officer at the end of the financial year, and, his authority to expend it having expired, it must be surrendered to the Exchequer. There is no difference in this respect between an ordinary grant and a grant-in-aid. In both cases any money remaining in the hands of the accounting officer at the end of the year must be surrendered. The expenditure by the grantee must, however, be distinguished from the expenditure or payment to him by the accounting officer. Payment by the accounting officer to the grantee is the only payment for which vouchers are required to be produced to the Comptroller and Auditor General. But, in practice, the Treasury, under powers conferred on it by Section 33 of the Exchequer and Audit Act, requires the Comptroller and Auditor General to follow up the expenditure in detail by the grantee in all cases where the contrary is not stated on the face of the Estimate. This does not, however, mean that the expenditure by the grantee should necessarily take place during the financial year.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES
Does not the Comptroller and Auditor General take an entirely different view from that held by the Treasury?