Remit and membership (7 May 2003 – 6 May 2004)
1. The remit of the Audit Committee is to consider and report
(a) any accounts laid before the Parliament;
(b) any report laid before or made to the Parliament by the Auditor
General for Scotland; and
(c) any other document laid before the Parliament concerning
financial control, accounting and auditing in relation to public
2. No member of the Scottish Executive or junior Scottish Minister
may be a member of the Committee and no member who represents
a political party which is represented in the Scottish Executive
may be convener of the Committee.
(Standing Orders of the Scottish Parliament, Rule 6.7)
Mr Brian Monteith (Convener)
Mr Kenny MacAskill (Deputy Convener)
Committee Clerking Team:
Clerk to the Committee
Senior Assistant Clerk
The Committee reports to the Parliament as follows—
1. The Audit Committee holds to account those who are charged
with spending taxpayers’ money and ensures that public funds
are spent effectively. In practice it does this by holding inquiries
into the issues raised in reports by the Auditor General for Scotland.
The past year has arguably been the Committee’s busiest
to date. In particular, the Committee has taken evidence on more
reports of the Auditor General than ever before. Details of the
Committee’s inquiries are set out below together with other
highlights of the Committee’s year.
Inquiries and Reports
Auditor General Reports
2. This is the first Annual Report of the Session 2 Audit Committee.
The Committee met for the first time in June 2003 and in its early
meetings quickly established a programme of evidence taking to
begin following the Summer recess. From September onwards, the
Committee held nine evidence taking sessions on seven Auditor
General for Scotland reports and received five briefings from
the Auditor General on other reports.
3. Early in the year the Committee agreed to undertake an inquiry
into Individual Learning Accounts in Scotland and in January 2004
it published its report. The Committee’s report made a range
of recommendations on issues such as project planning, the management
of risk, quality assurance and the need for better guidance and
4. Also in January 2004, the Committee published a report on
its inquiry into Supporting Prescibing in General Practice. This
inquiry found that NHSScotland had failed to capitilise on a number
of successful pilot projects, which reduced waste and improved
the quality of service to patients. The report recommended that
Executive set out a clear structure for agreeing and adopting
successful practices, as a matter of urgency.
5. In March 2004, the Committee published a report on the Scottish
Further Education Funding Council, following its inquiry into
the performance management of the further education sector in
Scotland. This inquiry found that the Scottish Further Education
Funding Council was making slow progress in delivering a range
of key initiatives. The report concluded that the Council needed
to act more purposefully on commitments made following earlier
Auditor General for Scotland examinations and Committee reports.
6. At the time of writing, the Committee has three ongoing inquiries.
In January 2004, the Committee took evidence from Scottish Enterprise
on a special audit examination by the Auditor General for Scotland.
The Committee will publish its report on this matter in the Spring.
7. In March 2004, the Committee took evidence from the Scottish
Parliament’s Chief Executive in relation to the Section
22 report by the Auditor General for Scotland on the accounts
of the Scottish Parliament Corporate Body 2003 2004.
8. The Committee is currently undertaking an inquiry into the
report by the Auditor General for Scotland entitled ‘Overview
of the National Health Service in Scotland‘. The Committee
has taken evidence from three NHS Boards in order to gain a greater
understanding of the performance and financial issues facing the
NHS bodies at local level.
9. The Convener has written to the Auditor General for Scotland
asking him to identify how equalities issues are addressed in
his examinations. This will help the Committee to ensure that
equalities issues are given adequate and appropriate attention
in its own inquiries.
10. In recognition of the increasing number of reports published
jointly by the Auditor General for Scotland and the Accounts Commission,
the Committee has agreed to periodically take evidence from the
Accounts Commission, in order to help the Committee place its
consideration of individual joint reports within the context of
national developments in relation to performance management in
local authorities. The first of these evidence sessions was held
on 27 April 2004.
Visit to Wales
11. In March 2004, members visited the National Assembly for
Wales in order to explore issues of mutual interest and to build
on relationships established by the Session 1 Committee. The Committee
has also agreed to undertake similar visits to Westminster and
Northern Ireland in the near future.
Bills and Petitions
12. The Committee did not consider any bills or public petitions
during the parliamentary year.
13. During the reporting year the Committee considered one Scottish
Statutory Instrument, which was subject to negative procedure.
14. The Committee met 19 times between 7 May 2003 and 6 May
2004. Of these meetings, one was entirely in public, 15 were partly
in private and three were entirely in private. The majority of
Committee time was spent in public session. Where the Committee
decided to meet in private, decisions were taken on a case by
case basis. The majority of private items were to consider the
approach to reports by the Auditor General for Scotland and arrangements
for inquiries. Other private items were to consider lines of questioning
for witnesses, evidence taken and draft reports.
15. All the meetings were held in Edinburgh.