Select Committee on Public Accounts Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 180 - 187)



  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.

  181. Annual.
  (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[13].
  (Dr Perry) Yes.

Mr Burns

  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[14].

  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

14   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

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