Examination of Witnesses(Questions 160-179)|
WEDNESDAY 17 JULY 2002
160. When you say rationalising, you are not
rationalising the district auditor. We have the district auditor.
You are having a second auditor in housing.
(Mr Macpherson) At the moment there is a Housing Inspectorate
in the Audit Commission.
(Mr Macpherson) There is in effect also housing inspectorate
within the Housing Corporation. The Deputy Prime Minister will
set out his proposal, no doubt, in due course but the thinking
underlying this is to create a more rational and effective inspection
162. To answer George's question, take for example
hospitals, there will be two bodies, there will be the Audit Commission
and another body. It is not just one body.
(Mr Macpherson) In terms of the high level inspection
and auditing, the part of the Audit Commission which dealt with
hospitals will be merged with the CHI, the Commission for Health
163. The position on the ground, will they see
one or two bodies going round to audit them?
(Mr Macpherson) Just one.
164. Why, if you have a Housing Inspectorate
and a district auditor?
(Mr Sharples) In relation to the Health Service, the
proposal is to move from an arrangement where currently we have
two bodies involved in inspection of hospitals to a single unified
165. Who are the two bodies?
(Mr Sharples) The Audit Commission on the one hand
which has responsibilities for local government and for the Health
166. What is going to happen to the Audit Commission?
(Mr Sharples) Its Health Service responsibilities
are going to be merged with the
167. Taken from them?
(Mr Sharples) The new Commission for Health Care Audit
and Inspection is going to be set up.
Chairman: Who will audit the accounts
of these bodies?
168. They are taking the Audit Commission's
responsibilities covering health and giving them to a new body.
What other powers will be taken from the Audit Commission and
what is the criticism of the Audit Commission? Why suddenly do
they have to be divested of their powers?
(Mr Macpherson) We think the Audit Commission is very
effective but equally we want to create in one place, building
on the excellent record of the Audit Commission, a very strong
single inspectorate which can look at value for money issues as
well as simple, not simple rather complex health standard issues.
169. Will the Audit Commission still have a
statutory duty to audit the accounts? It will not?
(Mr Macpherson) I am happy to provide a note on that4.
170. You can have a change of mind in two minutes.
(Mr Macpherson) No, you are asking about the accounts.
I was mainly talking in terms of performance indicators. You will
read from time to time Audit Commission reports on the different
performance of trusts across a range of indicators. The key thing
is to bring in those value for money indicators together with
the Health Standard Indicators which are covered by the Commission
for Health currently.
171. Will the Audit Commission still have a
statutory responsibility to audit the accounts in hospitals then?
Will you write to us on it?
(Mr Macpherson) I will be happy to provide a note
172. Can I just ask a question on costs. Have
you costed as good Treasury people in the new arrangements the
additional costs and have you actually added up how many peopleWe
know the accountants are all looking for work so there will not
be a shortage. Have you decided how many accountants you are going
to take in and the cost of them?
(Mr Macpherson) This Commission has yet to be set
173. No, I am speaking of the seven.
(Mr Macpherson) It requires legislation to do it.
174. This is a major reform.
(Mr Macpherson) It is a major reform.
175. You must have costed it.
4 Ev. 26.
(Mr Macpherson) Yes.
176. How much?
(Mr Macpherson) The issue though here is comparing
the current system with the new system and, as I say, one of the
motives in reforming this area is that there are a whole lot of
bodies looking at all sorts of things and we want to get the economies
177. You said you have costed it, how much?
I said "Have you costed it" you said "Yes"
and you went on speaking so I am bringing you back. You have costed
it, how much?
(Mr Macpherson) Just talking about the housing one,
the Deputy Prime Minister has yet to announce his proposals on
the subject, so it would be premature to give the costing.
178. He has got to do that within the limits
you have set him.
(Mr Macpherson) Exactly, so we are clear it is affordable.
179. But leaving housing alone, give us a total.
You have clearly set this up as a major reform and you said you
had costed it. When a public servant is asked by a member of the
Treasury Select Committee when you said you had costed it, could
you tell us how much, it seems to me an answer is required.
(Mr Macpherson) What we have done is set out plans
for the next three years so it is going to be affordable within