§ SIR GILBERT PARKER (Gravesend)
To ask the President of the Local Government Board whether the Departmental Committee to consider the audit of the accounts of local authorities has now been appointed; if so, whether it is preliminary or supplemental to or in substitution of the conference unanimously recommended by the Municipal Trading Committee; if preliminary or supplemental, at what date the conference will be convened; if in substitution, what are the reasons for disregarding the Report of the Committee; and what steps will be taken to give effect to its recommendation that it is desirable that the opinion of professional accountants should be obtained as to the best means of prescribing and auditing the accounts of local authorities.
(Answered by Mr. Walter Long.) The object of the Departmental Committee will be to deal with the question raised in paragraph 9 of the Report of the Joint Committee on Municipal Trading as to the practicability of a standard form of accounts for local authorities being prescribed. I have not at present been able to appoint the members of the Departmental Committee, but I contemplate that in connection with it the opinion of professional accountants will be obtained. I am only concerned with the accounts of local authorities in England and Wales, and I think that by the adoption of the course which I propose I shall obtain expert 1550 evidence of the kind referred to in the Question, and also other evidence which it is desirable I should have to enable me to decide as to the form of accounts to be kept.