HC Deb 26 November 1987 vol 123 cc376-7
Q2. Mr. Allen

To ask the Prime Minister if she will take steps to ensure that the Government's replies to all outstanding reports of the Public Accounts Committee are issued within a specific period to be agreed by the Government.

The Prime Minister

I am not aware of any need to change the existing arrangements for replying to Public Accounts Committee reports.

Mr. Allen

Is the Prime Minister aware that there have been 500 reports from Select Committees since 1979 and that only four have been taken on substantive motions on the Floor of the House? Is she aware that the PAC, which is meant to supervise on behalf of the House £160 billion of public expenditure, has only one day's debate? When will the Prime Minister side with parliamentary democracy and accountability rather than with Executive power?

The Prime Minister

I am not aware that the PAC is dissatisfied with the existing arrangement. At present the Government reply to PAC reports in groups. I believe that has also been for the convenience of the Public Accounts Committee. If we were to move away from the existing system, we should need to get the Committee's views. Since 1979, 60 reports from departmental Select Committees have been referred to on the Order Paper as relevant to debates in the House. With regard to further debates, perhaps the hon. Gentleman will listen carefully to what my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House has to say in the business statement.

Mr. Michael Morris

Is my right hon. Friend aware that, as a member of the Public Accounts Committee, my view is that we have had full debates on those reports? More important the Government have responded positively to the Treasury Minutes in response to our recommendations. Will my right hon. Friend note also that the work of the Public Accounts Committee would be enhanced if we could have the attendance of the three Labour Members who have been missing for many weeks?

The Prime Minister

My hon. Friend makes his own point very effectively. I do not think I can add to it.

Mr. Rees

Is it the Prime Minister's view that extradition orders—

Mr. Speaker

Order. This question is about the Public Accounts Committee.

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