Select Committee on Northern Ireland Affairs First Special Report


APPENDIX 1

Response to Parts II. [paragraphs 6-13] and Part VII. [paragraph 33(a)] of the Committee's Fifth Report: Resource Accounts 1999-2000

The Northern Ireland Office regrets that the Committee was not informed at an earlier stage about the difficulties the Department was encountering in the preparation of its 1999-2000 resource accounts. The Department made every effort to manage the three main areas of difficulty which have previously been described to the Committee, and it was only at a late stage, following advice from the Northern Ireland Audit Office that all the audit work necessary to provide an unqualified certificate could not be completed in the time available, that it became clear that the statutory timetable would not be met. As a consequence the Accounting Officer sought a dispensation from the accounts direction in January 2001. The Department does not expect to encounter difficulties in the future which would prevent it from adhering to statutory accounts timetables, but should such problems arise the Department undertakes to inform the Committee promptly.

Response to Parts V. [paragraphs 26-28] and Part VII. [paragraph 33(d)] of the Committee's Fifth Report Restructuring of the Estimate for Class XV, Vote 2 for 2000-01

The Northern Ireland Office accepts that the change to the structure of the Spring Supplementary Estimate for Class XV Vote 2 for 2000-01 was not fully described in the Estimate. The House was provided with an explanation of the purpose of the Supplementary Estimate in the answer given by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland to the question asked by Mr Colin Pickthall (West Lancashire) on 13 February 2001. The Department will consider with HM Treasury and the Department of Finance and Personnel whether further details of the purpose of future Supplementary Estimates, in addition to those given by way of written answers, might be included in Estimates.

Response to Parts VI/ [paragraphs 29 -32] and Part VII. [paragraph 33(e)] of the Committee's Fifth Report The Government Response to the Committee's Third Report, Session 1999-2000,HC 450

The Northern Ireland Office agrees that with regard to public expenditure the Committee should be in a position to consider all matters falling within the responsibilities of the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. In response to the Committee's recommendation the Department will consider with the Department of Finance and Personnel and HM Treasury how the House can be informed about the expenditure plans of Northern Ireland Departments, in the event that the Secretary of State were to resume responsibility for that expenditure for any substantive period.


 
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Prepared 5 November 2001