Select Committee on Work and Pensions First Report

Conclusions and recommendations

1.  We welcome the inclusion in the final Section 82 Report of the additional information we requested in our first Report and the undertakings the DWP has made to improve the Departmental guidance on the use of Section 82. We ask for copies of that guidance, as amended, to be made available to the Committee. (Paragraph 6)

2.  We are grateful for the work conducted by the NAO in response to our recommendation that it should have a role in examining the reasonableness of the cost estimates included in Section 82 Reports. We trust that in future the DWP will allow more time for the Comptroller and Auditor General to perform his examination. (Paragraph 10)

3.  We are disappointed that the DWP has not included its most recent cost estimates in the final version of the Section 82 Report laid before the House of Commons and urge Ministers to make the position clear when they present the Report. There must be no doubt as to the amount of expenditure the House of Commons is being asked to authorise under the Section 82 procedure. (Paragraph 12)

4.  We remain of the opinion that this part of the DWP's final Section 82 Report, in particular paragraph 23, is weak and believe that more detailed information should be included in future Section 82 Reports. (Paragraph 14)

5.  We do not believe that there are grounds for the House to reject this request for Section 82 approval. The ESA is an important new benefit and we do not wish to stand in the way of measures that we are told by DWP will ensure its orderly and timely implementation. However our cautious approval has caveats. We asked in our previous Report for a detailed out-turn Report, and we will study this closely. We reserve the right to ask the officials concerned to come back before us if we are not satisfied and it is within our purview to seek a debate on the floor of the House as part of an Estimates Day if we are unhappy with the way the authorised expenditure has been used. We also intend to keep a watching brief on the ESA project as a whole as it proceeds, as we have considerable concerns about the 8% increase in total estimated project costs that has already taken place. (Paragraph 16)

6.  We stated in our last Report that we would at this stage recommend whether the debate on the final Report should take place in a Delegated Legislation Committee or on the floor of the House. We recommend that the debate on this final Section 82 Report takes place in a Delegated Legislation Committee. We hope that the membership will include at least two members of the Work and Pensions Committee. (Paragraph 17)

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2006
Prepared 2 December 2006