HC Deb 21 April 1914 vol 61 cc756-8

asked the Patronage Secretary to the Treasury if he has appointed as public auditors under the Industrial and Provident Acts Mr. H. Goudie, Liberal agent, Consett, county Durham, and Mr. Murray, secretary of the Hetton Downs Co-operative Society, county Durham; and, if so, what certificates or other qualifications these persons possess to indicate their ability to perform the duties of public auditors?


Mr. Goudie was appointed a public auditor in January, 1912, and his appointment has been annually renewed. In a locality where professional accountants were not available, Mr. Goudie appeared to have gained considerable experience in accountancy in connection with public undertakings in the district, and had then acted for many years as an auditor of the Consett Co-operative Society. Mr. Goudie's present occupation is manager of the Consett Cooperative Society. He has never been a Liberal agent, but has acted as election agent. He has conducted two audits. Mr. C. H. Murray was first appointed a public auditor in January, 1913, and his appointment was renewed for 1914. He was the only applicant from the Hetton-le-Hole district, had been twenty-eight years engaged in industrial society work, and concurrently for seventeen years secretary to a large friendly society in the county. He has conducted no audits since his appointment. In past years, when friendly and industrial and provident societies resorted largely to lay auditors, the Treasury appointed men of this class and experience in localities where professional men were not readily available. In view of the Industrial and Provident Societies (Amendment) Act of last year, which makes compulsory the audit by public auditors of the accounts of all industrial and provident societies, the Treasury, acting in conjunction with the Registry of Friendly Societies, is now scrutinising much more severely the qualifications of all applicants for these positions. In connection with the list issued early this year, the chief aim of the Treasury was to add to the list only those men—and there have been a large number—possessing undoubted qualifications, but in a year of transition in regard to audit work it was not thought desirable to add to the complication which changes of this character involve by removing from the list of public auditors the names of any gentlemen who have held the position in past years. It is, however, the intention of the Treasury, before the list for 1915 is issued, to investigate closely the qualifications of all those public auditors whose appointments have been renewed from year to year, but who have not been engaged to a substantial extent in such audit work. I should like to emphasise the fact that political considerations carry no weight in regard to these appointments.


Quite apart from the merits of these individual cases, would my hon. Friend consider the desirability of making a statement to the effect that recommendations from Members of the House of Commons, on cither side, will be treated as a disqualification?


I would prefer that hon. Members did not write to me, because it would lighten my correspondence considerably. At the same time, I welcome any criticisms of appointments that are made. I would like to inform the House that over a thousand have been made this year.