Tories force all-night sitting in last ditch protest at public sector accounting Bill

A bitter battle over the powers and scope of the National Audit Office, theComptroller and Auditor General and the Public Accounts Committee becameemeshed in a prolonged filibuster engineered by right-wing Tories.

It followed a statement by Chief Secretary Andrew Smith promissing awide-ranging review of accountability arrangements for Central Governmentdesigned to head off further clashes and ease the passage of the billthriugh the Lords.

Treasury ministers have rejected demands from the PAC for the bill to beused to improve the rights of access of C&AG Sir John Bourne.

PAC Chairman David Davis was forced to move an important amendment close tomidnight on lines agreed by the committee which would have made the NAO thebody responsible for auditing or overseeing the audits of all quangos.

At one point he clashed with former PAC member and Labour left-winger TamDalyell, who complained at bein asked to take in an ‘extremelyconsequential and important’ issue so late at might.

Davis retorted that it was the government that decided the timetable. Allhe could do was present his arguments as best he could.

The battle over what was generally agreed legislation empowering abadly-needed reform of government accounting and public/private partnershipswill now continue in the Lords where rebellious peers, regarding themselveslegitimised by the removal of most hereditaries, have been flexing theirmuscles.

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