HC Deb 22 November 1999 vol 339 c344
36. Mr. Geoffrey CliftonBrown (Cotswold)

What are the funding implications for the National Audit Office of its remit to evaluate the methodology of the Red Book figures. [99002]

Mr. Robert Sheldon (Chairman of the Public Accounts Commission)

The commission is responsible for ensuring that the NAO has sufficient resources to carry out the statutory duties of the Comptroller and Auditor General. In our previous report to the House, the commission noted the CAG's assurance that the cost of carrying out his new statutory duties in respect of the Budget assumptions is not expected to be high or to exceed the capacity of existing expertise available within the NAO. On the basis of the current scope of Budget assumptions work by the NAO, I remain satisfied that that is the case.

Mr. Clifton-Brown

May I ask the Chairman of the Public Accounts Commission to allocate a specific sum so that we can ensure that the figures in next year's Red Book are truly transparent and that we do not have a situation, as we have had with this Government, where the same amount of money is repeated two or three times over and is accumulated for several years before it is actually spent? The public should be able to see properly what is being spent on health and education.

Mr. Sheldon

The National Audit Office certainly carries out its remit thoroughly and properly. I am surprised by the hon. Gentleman's criticism because it is the task of the Public Accounts Commission, together with the Public Accounts Committee, to ensure that this work is done satisfactorily. I have no reason to doubt that that is still the case.