NAO reform legislation shelved

NAO reform legislation shelved

Supporting legislation left out of Queen's Speech but public spending watchdog insists governance reforms are on track

Legislation underpinning the reform of National Audit Office governance has
been put on the back burner while the government concentrates on the economic
crisis.

The constitutional renewal bill, which was published in draft form in March,
was omitted from the Queen’s Speech setting out the government’s legislative
programme for the next Parliamentary year.

A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Justice said consultation for the wide
ranging bill would proceed and the bill would be introduced ‘as soon as
parliamentary time allows’, meaning it could be delayed until next year.

An NAO spokesman said the public spending watchdog would still press ahead
with plans to reform itself after an expenses scandal in 2007 lead to former
Comptroller and Auditor General Sir John Bourn stepping down.

The spokesman added that it will continue its search for a chairman.

Elsewhere in the Queen’s Speech, a provision in the local democracy, economic
development and construction bill, will provide additional powers for the Audit
Commission in England and the Auditor General for Wales to appoint auditors and
provide a power for the auditor to report public interest.

The centerpiece of the government’s new legislative programme was a banking
reform bill aimed at preventing another banking crisis and protecting
depositors.

John Cridland, deputy director-general at the CBI employers’ group, said:
‘The Prime Minister has rightly focused on measures affecting the economy in
this year’s Queen’s Speech.’

‘It is important that government policies assist businesses facing the credit
crunch without placing unnecessary administrative burdens on them, which cost
time and money, and stop companies focusing on the important challenges they
face.’

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