HC Deb 04 February 1926 vol 191 cc349-51W

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether any action has been taken or is proposed upon the paragraph (No. 7) relating to the accounting officers in the Second Report of the Public Accounts Committee, 1925; whether, before any action is taken, a copy of the evidence upon which those recommendations were based will be laid before this House; and whether he is

State; whether in each case there exist separate staffs to decide, record, and pay; and whether he has ever considered the desirability of consolidating these different staffs?


As the answer to the first two parts of the question is somewhat long, I will, with my hon. Friend's permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Owing to the diversity in the nature of these pensions and in the Regulations governing them, I am advised that the difficulties of concentrating their administration in a single Department would be numerous and the resulting savings doubtful. The actual process of payment is already carried out in most cases either by the Post Office or by the Paymaster-General's office. Nevertheless the whole question will be carefully reviewed.

Following is the answer to the first two parts of the question:

The principal forms of pension paid by the State and the Departments which administer and pay them are as follows:

aware of the widespread misgivings aroused by those proposals, and that, if carried into effect, they will seriously weaken the authority of departmental financial officers whose full co-operation is essential to the success of sound schemes of economy?


The question of the choice of the permanent head of a public Department as the Accounting Officer formed the subject of important recommendations by the Public Accounts Committee in 1920 and 1921. While in full agreement with the policy as concerned the fighting Services and the ordinary Civil Departments, the Committee at that time considered that, pending further experience, the practice should not be extended to certain of the larger Civil Departments. In the light of such experience gained in the last four years, the Committee now recommend that the practice should be extended, as opportunity offers, also to the larger Civil Departments. This is a view with which His Majesty's Government are in entire agreement, and which will govern their future action. As regards the second part of the question, the evidence given by the Treasury on this subject has long since been published (House of Commons Papers 231 of 1920 and 36, 40, 212 and 171 of 1921). I am not aware that the recommendation of the Public Accounts Committee has aroused any "misgivings," and I entirely disagree with the view that it will weaken financial control.