HC Deb 15 June 1977 vol 933 cc383-4
30. Mr. Spearing

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs under what auspices and to which body the new EEC Audit Court will be accountable.

Mr. Judd

My right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary explained the position in answer to my hon. Friend's Question on 19th May. The treaty of 22nd July 1975 provides that in the performance of their duties members of the court shall be completely independent and shall neither seek nor take instructions from any Government or from any other body.

Mr. Spearing

Does my hon. Friend remember that on 19th July, in c. 1413 of Hansard, it became apparent that the existing Audit Board heavily qualified the Community's agricultural accounts and said it had not been able to look at the previous year's accounts and could give no opinion on the management of that fund? If the Audit Court is able to go into the accounts of intervention boards of other countries, as well as the central fund, will it be authorised to do that so that for the first time the agricultural accounts of the Community can be properly looked at and properly audited?

Mr. Judd

I am sure that my hon. Friend will appreciate that I have not got to hand the precise Hansard reference to which he refers, but I can assure him that the Audit Court will have considerably extended powers over those under which the Audit Board had to operate. This should help in achieving the kind of objective that he has in mind.

Mr. Marten

Will the Audit Board as reconstituted be as good as our Public Accounts Committee?

Mr. Judd

Having served for three years on the Public Accounts Committee, I think it would be difficult to find a more effective body anywhere in the world doing that kind of work than our own Public Accounts Committee.