Official Report


Finance Committee, 28 Mar 2006

Scottish Parliament
Finance Committee
Tuesday 28 March 2006

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: [The Convener opened the meeting at 10:02]

Scottish Executive Policy and Financial Management Reviews

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The Convener (Des McNulty): : It is past 10 o'clock, so I open the 10th meeting in 2006 of the Finance Committee. I welcome the press and remind everyone present to turn off their pagers and mobile phones. We have received apologies from Wendy Alexander and Andrew Arbuckle.

The first item on today's agenda is consideration of a paper on the policy and financial management reviews by the Scottish Executive. We have launched the committee's wide-ranging accountability and governance inquiry and, as the paper suggests, we could do some work on non-departmental public bodies. The inquiry that we have initiated will require a lot of time and work. We also have various legislation to consider, and after the summer recess we will begin stage 2 of the budget process. For that reason, it is suggested that we examine NDPBs in a time-efficient manner, so it struck me that examining them through the PFM reviews might be a sensible way of piggybacking on work that is already being done. That would also allow for a process of financial scrutiny. If members agree to that course of action, we can write to the Scottish Executive, as set out in the paper, and consider the best way forward once we have received its reply. Are members content to proceed as the paper suggests?

Members indicated agreement.

The Convener: : To some extent, we are dependent on the Executive's programme for reviews, but if we can agree with the Executive to proceed by that route, we may be able to offer input in respect of its timetable.

Mr John Swinney (North Tayside) (SNP): : How we proceed will to a large extent depend on what information is available for our scrutiny through the policy and financial management reviews. Many of the issues about which members are concerned in relation to the performance of NDPBs may not be covered by that information. Subject to the caveat that we get access to appropriate information, the approach that is suggested could be quite useful.

The Convener: : One advantage of the proposal is that it may allow us to offer input not only on the timing of reviews but on their format. We may be able to suggest a consistency of purpose if we find some inconsistencies of approach, which might improve the quinquennial scrutiny process generally. We will write to the Executive as suggested.

Tourist Boards (Scotland) Bill: Financial Memorandum

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The Convener: : The second item on the agenda is to decide what level of scrutiny should be applied to the Tourist Boards (Scotland) Bill. As members will see from the clerks' paper, although the amount of money that will relate to the specific provisions of the bill is minimal, it is suggested that because of the transitional costs of merging the area tourist boards with VisitScotland, we should adopt level 2 scrutiny, take written evidence from VisitScotland and the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, and take oral evidence from the Executive. Do members agree to that approach?

Members indicated agreement.

The Convener: : The third item on the agenda is consideration of a draft report on our inquiry into deprivation. We have already agreed that it and the fourth item, on the review of the Executive's management of public finances, will be taken in private.

: Meeting continued in private until 11:53.