HC Deb 13 March 1989 vol 149 c17
63. Mr. Barry Field

To ask the Chairman of the Public Accounts Commission if he will list those public bodies whose accounts are audited by the National Audit Office; and if he will list the audit fees charged in each case.

Sir Peter Hordern

The National Audit Office at present audits some 470 accounts. I will write to my hon. Friend giving him the list that he requires. The Comptroller and Auditor General has informed me that, under section 5 of the National Audit Act, in 1987–88 the National Audit Office charged a fee for the audit of 142 accounts. The total income from fees in that year was £3.8 million.

Mr. Field

I thank my hon. Friend for not reading out the entire list, which would have run the risk of filibustering my supplementary. Accepting that the National Audit Office is entirely independent, could my hon. Friend not arrange with the Comptroller and Auditor General to fix a level of employees, expenditure and audit fee below which the National Audit Office would normally employ a private firm of auditors?

Sir Peter Hordern

I will pass on my hon. Friend's interesting idea to the Comptroller and Auditor General, but an increasing amount of work is carried out by private sector firms on behalf of the National Audit Office. Additional provision is made in the 1989–90 estimate for that purpose.

Nevertheless, the Commission has taken the view that, as Parliament intended that under the National Audit Act the National Audit Office should undertake examination of the economy, efficiency and effectiveness with which Departments and other public bodies use taxpayers' money entrusted to them, it is often more efficient for the National Audit Office to couple this value-for-money examination with the certification audit of those bodies' accounts.

Mr. Simon Hughes

Will the hon. Gentleman give general circulation to the information that he has undertaken to supply to his hon. Friend the Member for Isle of Wight (Mr. Field) so that all hon. Members may know which bodies are audited by the NAO?

Sir Peter Hordern

I will certainly consider that and pass the request on to the Comptroller and Auditor General as it is a little difficult to list all 470-odd bodies in Hansard.

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