COMMONS

Pre-Legislative Scrutiny of the Draft Local Audit Bill.

20 September 2012

The House of Commons has appointed an ad hoc Committee to conduct pre-legislative scrutiny of the Draft Local Audit Bill:

The Draft Local Audit Bill Cm 8393

The Committee invites submissions from interested parties on the impact of the draft Bill on the future of local audit provision. To assist those submitting memoranda the Committee suggests submissions should address some or all of the following areas arising from the draft Bill (though they are not exhaustive):

  • Localism and decentralisation—specifically, whether the provisions empowering local bodies to appoint their own independent external auditors will work and provide adequate safeguards, for example, to ensure independence and the extent to which the provisions in the draft Bill are future-proofed to take account of emerging changes such as the accounting arrangements for community budgets and the sharing of services;
  • Transparency—in particular, whether the provisions in the draft Bill will ensure that results of audit are accessible to the public in a transparent and intelligible manner and data of interest to the public is easily available so that local bodies can be held to account for local spending decisions;
  •  Lower audit fees—will the draft Bill ensure that the audit fees paid by local public bodies are competitive and offer value for money as well as securing the reduction in the overall costs which the Government has predicted;
  • The market in auditing service—specifically, whether the operation of the market in audit services is sufficiently competitive to allow smaller firms and organisations such as mutuals and co-operatives to be able to compete with large well-established companies and the effectiveness of the draft Bill in promoting competition in the delivery of audit services;
  •  Auditing standards—specifically, whether the draft Bill will ensure that there is an effective and transparent regulation of public audit, and conformity to the principles of public audit and whether the arrangements in the draft Bill will ensure that both good practice and lessons to prevent failure are disseminated adequately;
  • The objectives of the new arrangement—specifically, what are the objectives for the new arrangements and how will their impact can be measured;
  •  The winding-up of the Audit Commission—for example, whether the arrangements in the draft Bill for winding up the Audit Commission made adequate provisions for liabilities and that expertise built up by the Commission is not dissipated;
  •  The intended role of the National Audit Office—specifically, whether the arrangements for value for money are adequate and whether in time the NAO will take over the role of the Audit Commission; and
  •  Audit arrangements for health services, with particular reference to the new NHS ‘system architecture’ and new health responsibilities for local authorities under the Health and Social Care Act 2012, which will take effect from 1 April 2013

Deadline: 

Memoranda addressing any or all these issues, in accordance with the guidelines set out below, are invited by midday on Monday 15 October 2012.

Call for evidence: 
 
Each submission should:

  • Be no more than 2,500 words in length;
  • Begin with a short summary in bullet point form;
  • Be in Word format with as little use of colour or logos as soon as possible; and
  • Be accompanied by a covering email containing the name and contact details of the individual or organisation submitting evidence.

A copy of the submission should be sent by e-mail to draftlabcom@parliament.uk and marked “Local Audit Bill”.

It is helpful, for Data Protection purposes, for contact details not to be included in the text of submissions, but sent separately in a covering letter. You should be aware that there may be circumstances in which the House of Commons will be required to communicate information to third parties on request, in order to comply with its obligations under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

A guide for written submissions to Select Committees may be found on the parliamentary website.

Please also note that:

  • Material already published elsewhere should not form the basis of a submission, but may be referred to within a proposed memorandum, in which case a hard copy of the published work may be included.
  • Memoranda submitted should be kept confidential until formally accepted by the Committee. The Committee has authorised the publication by witnesses of their evidence, but such publication should await the formal acknowledgement of acceptance of the submission as evidence to the Committee.
  • Once submitted, evidence is the property of the Committee. The Committee normally, though not always, chooses to make public the written evidence it receives, by publishing it on the internet (where it will be searchable), by printing it or making it available through the Parliamentary Record Office. If there is any information you believe to be sensitive you should highlight it and explain what harm you believe would result from its disclosure. The Committee will take this into account in deciding whether to publish or further disclose the evidence.

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