HC Deb 30 January 1989 vol 146 cc15-6
54. Mr. Allen

To ask the Chairman of the Public Accounts Commission when the Public Accounts Commission last met; and what topics were discussed.

Sir Peter Hordern

The Commission last met on Tuesday 6 December, when the main business was consideration of proposed estimates for 1989–90 for both the National Audit Office and the Northern Ireland Audit Office.

Mr. Allen

Will the hon. Gentleman consider the potential deterioration in staffing levels in the Northern Ireland Audit Office? Will he undertake to write to the Comptroller and Auditor-General asking him to assess the staffing level statistics, and will he ask whether people who leave are interviewed to discover why they are leaving and whether those who return are interviewed to discover whether the career pattern in the office is sufficient to retain them in the long term?

Sir Peter Hordern

I will certainly write to the Comptroller and Auditor-General as the hon. Gentleman suggests. I should say that although there was indeed a staffing problem in the Northern Ireland Audit Office some time ago, the position has improved. When the chairman of the Public Accounts Committee and I visited the office, along with one or two other hon. Members, we were told that there had been a distinct improvement in recruiting, which we hope will continue.

Mr. Gow

Have my right hon. Friend and the right hon. Member for Ashton-under-Lyne (Mr. Sheldon) considered the remuneration of the Comptroller and Auditor-General for Northern Ireland? If so, what conclusion has been reached?

Sir Peter Hordern

I am sorry to have to tell my hon. Friend that although we have indeed considered the remuneration of the Northern Ireland Comptroller and Auditor-General and have made a proposal, it has, alas, fallen on deaf ears within the Government. We shall have to return to the matter in due course.