Administration and expenditure of the Chancellor's departments, 2008-09 - Treasury Contents


101. Although they are not the main subject of our scrutiny this year, we did write to the Treasury's other associated bodies to solicit updates on key issues, and also raised some of them with Ministers. In this section we highlight two of the outcomes that emerged from this process.

Valuation Office Authority

102. Last year, we expressed our concern at the manner in which the revaluation of UK statutory ports had been handled and implemented. We noted in particular that Port Occupiers are facing bills for backdated business rates which do not take account of payments they have already made to Port Operators towards rates. We recommended that the Government take steps to ensure that the financial liabilities faced by Port Occupiers take such payments into account. In its response to our report, although the Government did not agree with all our reasoning it did tell us that "Ministers are meeting representatives of some of the port operators to discuss the issues."[139] We were, therefore, dismayed to learn from Rt Hon Stephen Timms that "this is clearly a matter between the ports and their tenants"[140] and that "I am not aware of ministers having been involved in that."[141]

103. We are not impressed by the Government's decision to wash its hands of problems which arise, in part, from its own insensitive handling of port rate revaluation. We recommend that the Government urgently reviews the impact of the port revaluation on port occupiers, and publishes its findings.

Government Actuary's Department

104. We asked GAD about its overall finances, and sought information in particular on its response to the economic crisis, performance, staffing, VIP events, miners pension scheme and new accommodation. We were impressed by the clear and informative GAD response to our letter. We were pleased to see that GAD has had a successful year. We did note though that GAD has been unable to move into a new office as planned, and now expects to stay at Finlaison House for the foreseeable future. GAD drew our attention to the fact that "as a result of our failure to move, our finances are very vulnerable to sub-tenants leaving. We could in the next year or two face a hit to our net costs of over £1M based on what may or may not happen. We are in discussions with Treasury and OGC about managing this potential exposure."[142] We will continue to monitor the financial risk to GAD arising from the need to remain at Finlaison House, and request that, in its response to this report, the Government explains its contingency plans for GAD in the event that sub-tenants leave.

139   Treasury Committee, Administration and expenditure of the Chancellor's departments, 2007-08: Government Response to the Committee's First Report of Session 2008-09, April 2009, HC 419, p 17 Back

140   Q 512 Back

141   Q 513 Back

142   Ev 118 Back

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