HC Deb 16 June 1997 vol 296 cc16-7
35. Mr. Campbell-Savours

To ask the Chairman of the Public Accounts Commission what discussions he has had with the Comptroller and Auditor General on the role of the Public Accounts Commission. [2031]

Mr. Sheldon

Since becoming Chairman of the Public Accounts Commission, I have not yet had discussions with the Comptroller and Auditor General. The role of the Commission is set out in legislation, as my hon. Friend knows.

Mr. Campbell-Savours

My right hon. Friend has been a Treasury Minister. He has been Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee for 14 years, and he has worked closely with the National Audit Office throughout that time. Does he agree that there is no better organization—no more independent organization—capable of carrying out a review of the nation's finances, especially with a view to establishing what the nation's liabilities are?

Mr. Sheldon

I fully endorse what my hon. Friend said about the National Audit Office. Its standing has undoubtedly grown during the past several years, and the people and accountants involved in it have the highest reputation in the country. However, in preparing their forecasts of the public finances, they will review the assumptions adopted for economic growth, unemployment and interest rates and the conventions used for projecting proceeds from privatisation and from those measures that are called spend to save. I believe that the reputation of the National Audit Office will be fully vindicated by the report that we shall shortly receive.