HC Deb 26 March 1998 vol 309 cc737-8
Mr. Hain

I beg to move amendment No. 106, in page 79, line 5, leave out 'as the Chief Inspector, or'.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Alan Haselhurst)

With this it will be convenient to consider Government amendments Nos. 107 to 109.

Mr. Hain

These amendments are merely designed to remove any doubt over the employment status of Her Majesty's chief inspector of schools in Wales and the English equivalent.

The current chief inspector in Wales was appointed as a civil servant. That arrangement has worked well. Accordingly, schedule 5 originally provided that future incumbents of that post were also to be civil servants. However, the current chief inspector in England is not a civil servant, and both appointments were made under the School Inspections Act 1996. An express provision to the effect that the Welsh chief inspector must be a civil servant could call into question the power to make an appointment on non-civil service terms as in England.

The amendments effectively preserve the status quo, and leave the issue of civil service status to be decided not by statute but by the terms of the chief inspector's appointment, allowing flexibility in both Wales and England to choose the best approach in each case, and removing any obstacle that might otherwise preclude the most suitable individual from being appointed to the post of chief inspector. Furthermore, the amendments do not affect the status of the chief inspector's staff, who will remain civil servants in any event.

I might add that amendments Nos. 108 and 109 mirror with respect to the chief inspector the provisions of amendments Nos. 89 and 180, which the House debated yesterday. They are needed here as they were needed there. We need to clarify the duties of the Auditor General for Wales as regards the chief inspector's accounts, which is the purpose of amendment No. 108. We need to allow the assembly Audit Committee to take evidence for the Public Accounts Committee from the chief inspector's accounting officer—hence amendment No. 109.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments made: No. 107, in page 79, line 6, at end insert— '() Whether service as the Chief Inspector is service in Her Majesty's Home Civil Service shall continue to be a matter which falls to be determined in accordance with the terms of the Chief Inspector's appointment, but the Chief Inspector shall in any event be a person to whom section 1 of the Superannuation Act 1972 (superannuation schemes for civil servants) applies.'.

No. 108, in page 79, line 35, leave out from 'that' to 'in' in line 36 and insert 'the expenditure to which the accounts relate has been incurred lawfully and'.

No. 109, in page 80, line 10, at end insert— '() If requested to do so by the House of Commons Committee of Public Accounts, the Audit Committee may—

  1. (a) on behalf of the Committee of Public Accounts take evidence from the accounting officer for the Office of the Chief Inspector, and
  2. (b) report to the Committee of Public Accounts and transmit to that Committee any evidence so taken.'. —[Mr. Dowd.]

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