6 Conclusion |
88. Financial scrutiny is a fundamental part of the
House's duty. Its purpose is above all to hold the Government,
individual Departments and other public bodies to account for
their financial decisions and financial management, and thereby
to promote more effective and economical use of public money.
It is not our intention that the time of the House, committees
and Members should be dominated by financial scrutiny to the exclusion
of all else. Instead it is a matter of restoring the balance,
so that financial scrutiny can retrieve its proper place among
the House's various activities.
89. There is no doubt that the House currently fails
adequately to scrutinise the Government's financial decisions
and financial management and to hold it to account for them. For
far too long the House has shirked the task of providing itself
with the means to carry out financial scrutiny effectively, and
it is time that the House was more assertive in this area.
90. What is needed is not exhortation but practical
steps. We have set out those steps in this Report, in three areas:
- simplification of the Government's
over-complex financial system;
- improving the quality of the financial information
provided to Parliament, which currently does not meet the House's
- creating opportunities for Members to challenge
the Government in financial matters and hold it to account.
All these changes are achievable, and, as we have
argued above, they would benefit the Government as well as the
91. Further work will be needed to implement our
proposals. And much would depend on how the House and its select
committees and Members responded to any new opportunities. But
we believe the changes we propose here would provide the basis
for a major increase in the effectiveness of the House in scrutinising
the Government and individual Departments and holding them to
account, and thereby a significant impact on the quality of financial
management by Departments and of the services they provide.