HC Deb 30 June 1982 vol 26 c940

Lords amendment: No. 16, in page 16, line 25, after "services" insert and of other services provided by bodies whose accounts are required to be audited in accordance with this Part of this Act,

Mr. King

I beg to move, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said amendment.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bernard Weatherill)

With this we shall take Lords amendments Nos. 17, 20, 21 and 24.

Mr. King

The amendment will ensure that clause 20, which refers only to "local authorities", encompasses all the other bodies listed in the original clause 6 which, although not encompassed by the term "local authorities", come within the ambit of the audit commission. They include port health authorities, combined police authorities, fire authorities, internal drainage boards and so on. The amendment is self-explanatory.

Mr. Mc William

Amendment No. 24 appears innocuous. The words to be left out include: section 20 above shall apply in relation to Passenger Transport Executives and the London Transport Executive". Clause 20 is titled: Studies for improving economy etc. in local authority services". If the Minister is arguing that studies should be undertaken of passenger transport executives, the audit commission is the wrong body to do so. It does not have the necessary expertise.

In Committee we objected to the wholesale introduction of studies, and the matter will come up again later. It appears that the Minister has overstepped the mark. A more appropriate body should look at the efficiency of transport undertakings. I need hardly remind the Minister of the problems that already exist in some of the undertakings. I should hate to think that a body composed largely of accountants appointed by the Minister and his hon. Friends would be asked to attempt to make a helpful study to produce the desired effect. I invite the Minister to reconsider this.

Mr. King

There is nothing sinister about the omission of lines 40 to 44 on page 18. They become redundant because of the other amendments. The hon. Member for Blaydon (Mr. McWilliam) widened the issue to cover the question of the inclusion of clause 24. It is appropriate for the audit commission to cover passenger transport executives. There is no change in our attitude.

Question put and agreed to.

Lords amendments Nos. 17, 20, 21 and 24 agreed to.

Further consideration of Lords amendments adjourned.—[Mr. Brooke.]

To be further considered tomorrow.