Parliament and Government Finance: Recreating Financial Scrutiny
The Stationery Office, 2008 - Business & Economics - 39 pages
Parliamentary scrutiny of the Government's finances needs to be improved. The purpose of scrutiny is to make the government's financial decisions transparent, to give those outside Parliament opportunity to comment, to have the opportunity to influence the Government's financial decisions and to hold the Government, departments and other public bodies to account. The complexity of the Government's financial system is a major problem. There are: departmental budgets determined in spending reviews; estimates; and resource accounts. Complicated reconciliations are needed to relate one to another. The Treasury has started an Alignment Project which should improve consistency and continuity between these three types of document. Parliament is not receiving the information required for effective scrutiny. Financial reporting to Parliament should: include the information that departmental managers use to monitor performance, rather than just financial control and audit information; enable an overall view of planned expenditure; highlight the information which is significant; relate the information to objectives and to what is achieved by spending the money; identify key risks; use graphs; be provided in good time; use plain English; and enable as assessment of the quality of financial management. The Committee makes specific proposals based on these principles. Select committees and the House should, together, engage with financial issues before the Government makes decisions. The House should take back the right to debate and vote on individual government programmes or items of expenditure, and more than three days a year (the current allotment) should be made available for this purpose.
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2007 Comprehensive Spending achieved Alan Beith Alignment Project Andrew Dismore authorised Barry Sheerman basis of Parliament's changes Committee of Supply Committee Office Scrutiny Committee's Comprehensive Spending Review decisions and financial departmental select committees detailed Estimates and accounts Estimates Memoranda examination financial management financial matters floor government finances Government to account Government's Expenditure Plans Government's financial decisions Government's financial system Gwyneth Dunwoody Hansard Society hold the Government House and select House of Commons improving financial scrutiny individual Departments issues Keith Vaz Liaison Committee Mike Gapes MP Conservative MP Labour National Audit Office needed Office Scrutiny Unit opportunities for debate outturn Parliament's financial control parliamentary scrutiny Peter Luff Phil Willis Phyllis Starkey Pre-Budget Report Procedure Committee programmes or items public bodies recommend reporting documents Resource Accounts Second Report Seek parliamentary approval Sixth Report spending plans Supplementary Estimates Treasury Committee underlie and inform value for money