PN10 18 June 2007 16.00 hrs
For immediate release
Comptroller and Auditor General's travel expenses
The Commission met on 13 June to discuss possible steps it might take following press reports concerning the travel expenses of the Comptroller and Auditor General, Sir John Bourn.
The Commission concluded that there was no evidence of impropriety in the use of public money, and that the expenditure had been in accordance with the existing rules on such expenditure. But it agreed that, in the light of the public concern, there was a need for a more transparent system for the Comptroller and Auditor General's travel expenses. Such a system would include prior oversight of the travel expenses by someone other than the Comptroller and Auditor General, and reporting of them subsequently to the Chairman of the Commission; the Commission could then, if it wished, question the Comptroller and Auditor General in public about them at its regular meetings.
In view of the statutory independence of the Comptroller and Auditor General, the Commission decided that its Chairman and the Chairman of the Committee of Public Accounts should first discuss how such a system would operate with the Comptroller and Auditor General.
The Commission?s view was that the Comptroller and Auditor General should as far as possible, bearing mind his different role and constitutional position, follow the rules which apply to Permanent Secretaries in this area.
The Comptroller and Auditor General said subsequently that he welcomed the assistance that such a system would give him.
The discussions have taken place, and the details of the new system are being worked on.
The briefing provided by the NAO to the Commission for its meeting on 13 June will be available on the Commission's website shortly, together with the minutes of the meeting.
CONTACT FOR THE COMMISSION: The Secretary of the Commission, Mr Dorian Gerhold, may be contacted on 020 7219 6257.
NOTE FOR EDITORS: The Commission is appointed under the National Audit Act 1983 to oversee, and, if satisfied, lay before the House of Commons, the annual Estimates for the National Audit Office. It also examines once a year the NAO's Corporate Plan, which covers a three year period. For the time being it examines similar documents of the NIAO.
The Commission Members are:- Rt Hon Alan Williams (Chairman) (Labour, Swansea West), Mr Richard Bacon (Conservative, Norfolk South), Mr Edward Leigh (Conservative, Gainsborough), Dr William McCrea (DUP, South Antrim), Mr John McFall (Labour, West Dunbartonshire), Mr Austin Mitchell (Labour, Great Grimsby), Dr Nick Palmer (Labour, Broxtowe), Rt Hon Jack Straw (Labour, Blackburn) and Mr Andrew Tyrie (Conservative, Chichester).
Note: The decision of the Commission to meet in public may be rescinded without notice.