HC Deb 18 April 1958 vol 586 cc569-71
Mr. Geoffrey Stevens (Portsmouth, Langstone)

I beg to move, in page 21, line 14, to leave out from "accounts" to "and" in line 16, and to insert: for each financial year of the Council shall be audited by auditors to be appointed by them and shall as soon as may be after they have been audited be published".

Mr. Speaker

It seems to me that this Amendment and the following Amendment in line 16 deal with auditors. Can they be discussed together?

Mr. Stevens

I should be grateful if you would so rule, Mr. Speaker, because the second Amendment is complementary to the first.

I should first declare an interest in these matters, as I am a member of one of the first of the learned bodies listed in the second Amendment. By Clause 27 (2) of the Bill the General Optical Council is required to keep accounts of all sums received and paid and also to have those accounts audited, but there is no qualification indicated on the type of person who is to be qualified to audit those accounts. The auditor is to be appointed by Regulations made by the Privy Council, and I am sure that the Privy Council will do its best to select a suitable person to audit these accounts.

At the same time, the auditing profession has been trying to improve its standards for over a hundred years. There are certain bodies which have established and constantly improved their standards. These are bodies which have previously been recognised by the House as suitable for duties of this kind. Since the war, going back to 1947, the House has passed twelve Acts, including the Electricity Act, 1947, the Iron and Steel Act, 1953, and the Sugar Act as recently as 1956, in which these bodies which have established certain professional standards have been specified in the appropriate audit Clause.

This is already an excellent Bill, and I take this opportunity of congratulating my hon. Friend the Member for Wembley, South (Mr. Russell) on introducing it, but I think it would be improved if it laid down that the accounts of the General Optical Council shall be audited by properly qualified auditors. I should like to express my thanks to my hon. Friend the Member for Wembley, South for allowing his name to be associated with these two Amendments.

3.0 p.m.

Mr. Russell

I beg to second the Amendment.

Both Amendments are in keeping with the principles of the Bill. In a Bill which tries to lay down qualifications for opticians, it is only fair that they should employ qualified auditors.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendment made: In page 21, line 16, at end insert: (3) No person shall be qualified to be appointed auditor under the last foregoing subsection unless he is a member of one or more of the following bodies:—