Jane Hutt, Minister for Finance and Leader of the House
The Public Audit (Wales) Bill has been introduced today.
The Bill is designed to strengthen and improve the accountability and governance arrangements relating to the Auditor General for Wales and the Wales Audit Office whilst protecting the Auditor General’s independence and objectivity. The Bill strikes an effective balance between greater transparency in the Auditor General’s deployment of public resources, while ensuring that the independence of the office of the Auditor General is not constrained.
The Bill will improve the National Assembly for Wales’ oversight of the Auditor General for Wales and strengthen the accountability and transparency of that Office.
The main provisions in the Bill will:
• continue the office of Auditor General for Wales and maintain the independence of that Office (Section 2 of the Bill);
• make it clearer that, for example, the Auditor General for Wales’ functions are to be exercised efficiently and cost-effectively (Section 8);
• prescribe that the Auditor General for Wales must issue a code of audit practice applicable to all the his or her financial audit and value for money functions (Section 10);
• make the Auditor General for Wales the statutory auditor for local government bodies in Wales (Section 11);
• create a new corporate body called the Wales Audit Office with a range of functions including employing staff, budget-holding, provision of services, charging of fees, planning and reporting (Sections 13 – 16, 19, 23 - 28);
• provide the Wales Audit Office with a duty to monitor the Auditor General for Wales, and a power to provide him or her with advice, and other provisions regarding the relationship between the two (Section 17); and
• enable the Assembly itself to determine how the functions of scrutiny and oversight of the Auditor General for Wales and Wales Audit Office are to be exercised (Section 29).
The Bill has four Schedules:
• Schedule 1 deals with the incorporation of the Wales Audit Office;
• Schedule 2 sets out the relationship between the Auditor General for Wales and the Wales Audit Office;
• Schedule 3 deals with the main Transitional, Supplementary and Savings Provisions; and
• Schedule 4 sets out the repeals and consequential modifications to primary legislation to give effect to the Bill.
I shall be making a legislative statement in plenary tomorrow to introduce the Bill.