He said the ‘shortcomings’ in the secret accounts of the Government Communications Headquarters were being taken ‘seriously’ but implied when stating that steps were being taken to ‘improve the situation’ that it had yet to be put right.
The prime minister also dismissed ‘weaknesses’ in the unpublished accounts of other security agencies as ‘of a smaller scale’ and said steps had already been taken to deal with them.
He was replying to a demand from Labour accountant MP Harry Cohen for details of the ‘weaknesses of control’ identified in the accounts by NAO chief Sir John Bourn. Sir John’s report indicated they were not complying with ‘generally accepted accounting practice’ or the requirements of the government’s own resource accounting manual.
Cohen put formal questions to Blair in the Commons after Accountancy Age revealed the problems earlier this month.
Blair insisted: ‘It is a long-standing government policy not to make public information relating to the accounts of the individual security and intelligence agencies.’
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