HC Deb 11 May 1978 vol 949 cc1587-8
Mr. Cryer

I beg to move Amendment No. 20, in page 3, line 27, leave out subsections (2) to (4) and insert— '(2) The Agency shall send to the Secretary of State and to the Comptroller and Auditor General, before the end of the period of seven months after the end of any accounting year a copy of the statement of accounts for that year. (3) The Comptroller and Auditor General shall examine, certify and report on every statement of accounts received by him under subsection (2) above and shall lay a copy of the statement and of his report thereon before each House of Parliament. (4) The Secretary of State may, with the consent of the Treasury, provide by order made by statutory instrument that from such date as may be specified in the order the provisions of Schedule (Accounts and audit: alternative provisions) to this Act shall have effect in substitution for subsections (2) and (3) above. (4A) A statutory instrument containing an order under subsection (4) above shall be subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament.'

Mr. Deputy Speaker

With this amendment it will be convenient to take Government Amendments No. 21 and the Government's new schedule.

Mr. Cryer

The hon. Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Wainwright) raised the question of the auditing of the accounts. Amendments Nos. 20, 21 and 22 give the alternative option. They require the auditing to be carried out by the Comptroller and Auditor General, but they give the Secretary of State the power to appoint ordinary commercial auditors at the end of, say three years if and when the CDA becomes independent.

The commercial auditor will be required to provide accounts in the same way as the Comptroller and Auditor General and the Secretary of State will be required to place these accounts before the House.

Several of my hon. Friends have raised the question of parliamentary scrutiny. Section 6(2) requires the Secretary of State to lay before each House of Parliament a copy of the annual report. Therefore, plenty of scrutiny should be available. These amendments ensure that there is a degree of flexibility about accountability which I think should satisfy the hon. Member for Colne Valley and gain the support of my hon. Friends.

Mr. Richard Wainwright

The Minister has fully met the point that I made in Committee about the audit. I salute the ingenuity with which this optional arrangement has been inserted into the Bill.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment made: No. 21, in page 4, line 1, leave out section and in section 6 below and insert Act".—[Mr. Cryer.]

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