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Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Act 2009

Section 45 - Public interest reports; Section 46 - Codes of practice; Section 47- Access to information; Section 48 - Consideration of report by entity; Section 49- Consideration of report by local authority

118.Sections 45 to 49 provide the powers for an auditor appointed under this Chapter to make a report in the public interest. This adopts, for this Part, one of the principles of public audit endorsed in Lord Sharman’s report, namely that public auditors should be able to make the results of their audits available to the public and to democratically elected representatives.

119.By virtue of section 45, an appointed auditor must make a report to the entity about any matter relating to the financial affairs or corporate governance of the entity which comes to their attention in discharging their functions under this Chapter and which they consider that it would be in the public interest to bring to the attention of the entity, the local authority with which it is connected, or the public. A copy of the report must be sent to the local authority with which the entity is connected and the relevant audit authority. The auditor may notify any person that a report has been made and supply a copy, or part of a copy to any person. Section 46 provides that the Audit Commission must prescribe the way in which the auditor carries out their functions in a code of practice made under section 4 of the Audit Commission Act 1998, and the Auditor General for Wales must prescribe such conditions in a code of practice made under section 16 of the Public Audit (Wales) Act 2004. In carrying out their public interest reporting functions, an auditor is required to comply with the provisions in the relevant code of practice.

120.Section 47 requires the entity to provide the auditor with every facility and all information which the auditor may reasonably require for the purpose of preparing a public interest report where the auditor intends to do so. Any person who, without reasonable excuse, obstructs the auditor, or fails to comply, is guilty of an offence. An appointed auditor has a right of access to documents of the entity for the purposes of making a public interest report.

121.Sections 48 and 49 set out the process for the entity and the local authority to consider a public interest report. Section 48 provides that where a public interest report is made, the report must be considered by the entity. In the case of a company this must be at a general meeting of the company, in the case of a LLP at a meeting of members of the partnership, and, in the case of an industrial and provident society in accordance with the rules of the society. The meeting must be held before the end of a period of one month, although the auditor may extend this period. At the meeting the entity must decide whether the report requires it to take any action and must notify the local authority of its decision. If the decision is to take no action then the reasons for this must be given in the notification. Section 49 provides that where a public interest report is made, the local authority must consider the report and the entity’s decisions in relation to the report and decide whether the authority needs to take any action. The notice given of the meeting must include a copy of the report and of the entity’s notification setting out the decision it has taken in relation to the report. The meeting must be held before the end of a period of one month although the auditor may extend this period. At the meeting the authority must decide whether the report requires it to take any action. Provision is made to cover admission to meetings, inspection and public access to agendas and reports.

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