Clause 11

Part of Budget Responsibility and National Audit Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee am 1:30 pm ar 3 Mawrth 2011.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Chris Leslie Chris Leslie Shadow Minister (Treasury) 1:30, 3 Mawrth 2011

I thank the hon. Gentleman for that. I was hoping somebody would say it. I will thank him later as well.

My specific point on clause 11 concerns the change taking place to the tenure of the office of the CAG. Committee members will see on page 4 of the Bill that the person appointed holds office for 10 years and may not be appointed again. It is a single term of appointment, for a decade, and is not renewable. That is a change. Sir John Bourn, a distinguished Comptroller and Auditor General with whom I worked on the Public Accounts Committee, held the post for 20 years in total. I suspect that, partly to reflect the Tiner review, Ministers and others thought that if we were legislating, we should take the opportunity to consider that tenure of office.

Will the Minister explain why 10 years was chosen? It might have been debated in the other place. One anxiety that has been voiced is whether that length of tenure will affect the type of candidate who may be deemed appropriate for appointment or may apply. Obviously, it is a long period in office, but because office holders cannot be reappointed, it would be a significant career choice for an individual to apply for the role. Provisions later in the Bill prevent an individual from working for the Crown, for example, for at least two years thereafter, so doing that job would mean working for 10 years and then moving on to an undetermined something else. Does the Minister have any observations about the career attractiveness or otherwise of the construct? It does not seem massively objectionable to me, but it is quite unusual for a public office. We will come to other aspects of the legislation as the clauses progress.