The Comptroller and Auditor General
6.44The Comptroller General of the Receipt and Issue of Her Majesty's Exchequer and Auditor General of Public Accounts is appointed by letters patent under the Exchequer and Audit Departments Act 1866 (c 39). By the National Audit Act 1983, s 1, as amended by the Budget Responsibility and National Audit Act 2011, Her Majesty's power of appointment is exercisable on an Address presented by the House of Commons, and no motion shall be made for such an Address except by the Prime Minister1 acting with the agreement of the Chairman of the Committee of Public Accounts.2 The Comptroller and Auditor General's salary is a charge on the Consolidated Fund and they are removable from office only on an Address from the two Houses.
The Comptroller heads the National Audit Office and assists the House of Commons by controlling the issue of money granted by Parliament from the Exchequer on demand of the Treasury and by auditing the accounts of government departments and a wide range of public sector bodies on behalf of the House. The Comptroller's reports on the Resource Accounts (see para 34.5 ) and examinations of economy, effectiveness and efficiency under the National Audit Act 1983, Pt II, form the basis of the work of the Committee of Public Accounts (see para 38.65 ).3
Under s 12(2) of the 2011 Act, the Comptroller and Auditor General continues to be an Officer of the House of Commons, but the Comptroller, and the National Audit Office, are not under the control of the House of Commons Commission. The Public Accounts Commission has various duties with respect to the National Audit Office (see para 6.45 ).
There is also a Comptroller and Auditor General for Northern Ireland, who heads the Northern Ireland Audit Office, established by the Audit (Northern Ireland) Order 1987. When the Northern Ireland Assembly has been suspended, the Comptroller has reported to the House of Commons. The Comptroller and Auditor General for Northern Ireland is also accorded the status of an Officer of the House of Commons.4
- 1. No other Minister may act for the Prime Minister, in contrast to the usual practice.
- 2. See HC Deb (1987–88) 124, cc 1185–205; 20 May 2009: CJ (2008–09) 376, HC Deb (2009) 492, c 1521; ibid (6 March 2019) 655, cc 1000–05.
- 3. See HC Deb (1997–98) 312, c 359W, in regard to the C&AG's access to contractors' records.
- 4. See Committee of Public Accounts, Second Report, HC 116 (1986–87) para 3.