HC Deb 28 April 1986 vol 96 cc655-6
25. Mr. Dalyell

asked the right hon. Member for Taunton, as representing the Public Accounts Commission, what economy, efficiency and effectiveness examinations of the use of resources by the National Audit Office have been carried out to date by its auditor.

Sir Edward du Cann

It is for the newly-appointed auditors of the National Audit Office, who come from the private sector, to decide whether to carry out such examinations. No reports of any such audits have, however, as yet been made to the commission.

Mr. Dalyell

In the light of the right hon. Gentleman's announcement to the Taunton Conservative Association at the weekend, I express appreciation of what the right hon. Gentleman did in his capacity as Chairman of the 1922 Committee in making facilities available for Back Benchers, and of what he did as Chairman of the Treasury Committee in increasing Parliament's effectiveness on policy matters. Has he had an opportunity to consider the case of Jim Smith, which I raised with him? Has he reflected on the use of whistle blowers and deep throats in saving the public purse vast sums of money?

Sir Edward du Cann

I do not know whether I am in order, but I must express my appreciation of the hon. Gentleman's generous comments, and I am grateful to hon. Members for their kindness.

I am aware of the hon. Gentleman's speech in the House on 25 March and have total sympathy with his objectives. I shall draw what he said to the attention of the Comptroller and Auditor General and our colleagues, the members of the Public Accounts Committee. If the hon. Gentleman wishes to correspond with me in any way about the matter, I shall be happy to go further and accept the responsibility of ensuring that the Departments concerned are made aware of his views.

Mr. Jessel

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the National Audit Office used its resources with great efficiency and effectiveness when last November it examined the proposal to set up a joint services defence school of music? Is he further aware that as a result the Public Accounts Committee also did excellent work and produced a report, which led the Government to reconsider whether the Royal Military School of Music, which produces the finest military bands in the world, should remain at Kneller Hall, Twickenham?

Sir Edward du Cann

I am glad to have the opportunity to associate myself with the tribute that my hon. Friend has rightly paid to the admirable work by the Comptroller and Auditor General. In my opinion, for what it is worth, the whole business of efficiency in Government and the sensible spending of money is markedly assisted by the competence of those who work in the National Audit Office under his leadership. If we please my hon. Friend with his passion for music, I am doubly content.