Examination of Witnesses (Questions 180
MONDAY 13 NOVEMBER 2000
180. Give me the frequency for each one then?
(Mr Hennessy) Lead regulation is the first one and
that is a constant review with the association which involves
an annual review meeting with senior members of staff and the
board and at least two other meetings.
(Mr Hennessy) Validation visits, which is the certification
checks that they have given us the right information and that
information is being operated correctly, are up to a maximum of
three years for the larger associations, earlier if we have reason
to go in and we have got some concerns about the information.
Investigation visits are literally that, they are ad hoc, they
go in when we have cause to be concerned about what is going on
within the association.
182. So when you say "risk" you mean
you have got reason to believe there is a problem?
13 Note by Witness: No personnel action
resulted directly from the Committee of Public Accounts Twentieth
Report, 1993-94 session. Since 1994 the Corporation has increased
the number of staff involved in regulation and the number of staff
who are financially qualified.
(Mr Hennessy) Yes. One thing I did not
mention is we still do a desk review of information they give
us, which we do annually.
183. That is slightly different. You may not
be able to answer this immediately but, if not, I would like a
note on it. You were asked about the Public Interest Disclosure
Act and the fact that you are not currently cited within it, I
would like you to check back in your records and determine when
the normal Whitehall circulation was made of the Bill whether
your organisation recommended that either it or the RSLs should
be included or not, what the advice was on that, please.
(Dr Perry) Yes.
184. May I just ask something from what you
said, Chairman. You said that the Department for the Environment
had written to the DTI about the Housing Corporation being covered
under the Act.
If Government departments were to decide that it
should be and the omission should be corrected, will that require
primary legislation from Parliament?
(Dr Perry) No, I believe that just has
to be done by way of an Order.
185. So RSLs can be done by Order as well?
(Dr Perry) I think RSLs are a different issue completely.
186. That is not quite what I asked. Could they
be done by Order as well?
(Dr Perry) I do not know, I would have to write to
you on that.
187. The only other thing I want to ask you
really is almost a rhetorical question. I do not want to mislead
or misrepresent you when we come to write our report. If I am
correct in hearing you and your two colleagues, there have been
major reviews and reforms as to the oversight and regulation of
RSLs but, according to an answer to my question earlier, you could
not guarantee that this would not happen again, is that correct?
(Dr Perry) I think that has to be correct.
I could never guarantee that there would not be an individual
crime within a regulated body.
Chairman: It just remains for me to say thank
you for coming and I hope you have not found it too wearing. No
doubt you will be looking forward to our report in due course.
Thank you very much indeed.
13 Note by Witness: There is no written record
of the Corporation making a request for itself, or RSLs, to be
included as a designated body at the time the Statutory Instrument
was being drafted. However, the DETR has now made a request on
our behalf to the DTI, and the Committee's support in making a
case for the corporation's inclusion would be helpful. Back
Note by Witness: While technically there is no reason why
RSLs (or indeed any other body or person) could not be designated
by Order, it would be contrary to the established precedent, which
is that designated bodies are those with supervisory or regulatory
powers. In any case employees of RSLs are already protected by
the provisions of Section 43C of the Employment Rights Act 1996
when making a disclosure to their own employer. Thus, it is the
view of the Corporation and DETR that there is no need for RSLs
to be designated bodies under the secondary legislation. Back