House of Commons accounts qualified for overspending

The House of Commons’ own accounts have been qualified by comptroller and
auditor general Sir John Bourn for unauthorised overspending of £900,000.

The qualification, believed to be a first, applied to the Members Resource
Accounts, which cover MPs’ salaries and expenses, including staff pay and

Sir John said the financial statements did ‘give a true and fair view’ and
that they had been properly prepared.

His qualification read: ‘Except for net resource expenditure of £909,000 in
excess of the amount authorised for the Request for Resources, in all material
respects the expenditure and income have been applied for the purposes intended
by Parliament and the financial transactions conform to the authorities which
govern them.’

The qualification is serious because of the example set to government
departments and quangos which struggle to produce acceptable resource accounts
on time, with notable qualifications on the accounts of the Department of Work
& Pensions, the Home Office and others.

In his report Sir John said it was proposed to seek an Excess Vote from
Parliament to cover the overspending, most of which was caused by an increase in
the Parliamentary Contributory Pension Fund service cost, which was £600,000
more than expected following an actuarial valuation of pension liabilities in
accordance with UK financial reporting standards.

And there was an unexpected surge in the number of MPs making use of a
flexibility allowing them to vary spending between their staffing and office
costs allowances.

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