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(This note is not part of the Order)
This Order largely completes the bringing into force, in England and Wales, of the provisions of the Public Audit (Wales) Act 2004 (“the Act”).
References to sections or Schedules are, unless indicated otherwise, references to sections of, or Schedules to, the Act.
Article 2 of this Order brings into force, on 1 April 2005, the provisions of the Act listed in the first column of Schedule 1 to this Order. Unless otherwise specified in the second column of Schedule 1 to this Order, or in Schedule 2 thereto, those provisions will come into force on that date for all purposes.
The general effect of the provisions of the Act brought into force by this Order is to confer a number of new functions on the Auditor General for Wales. The most significant effect of the new functions is that the Auditor General will, from the coming into force of this Order, exercise most of the functions currently exercised in Wales by the Audit Commission for Local Authorities and the National Health Service in England and Wales (“the Audit Commission”).
Part 1 of the Act (sections 1 to 11) deals with provisions relating to the functions of the Auditor General for Wales. Part 1 deals with how that office is to be funded and also addresses staffing and other administrative matters and makes provision for additional functions of the Auditor General.
Part 2 of the Act (sections 12 to 59) deals with local government bodies in Wales (as defined in section 12) in the context of the new arrangements proposed by the Act. Under the provisions of the Audit Commission Act 1998 (“the 1998 Act”), the Audit Commission is currently responsible for appointing the auditors of the accounts of these bodies. In relation to local government bodies in Wales, the Act transfers that responsibility to the Auditor General for Wales.
Part 3 of the Act (sections 60 to 64) adds responsibility for auditing the accounts of Welsh NHS bodies (as defined in section 60) to the remit of the Auditor General for Wales.
Part 4 of the Act (sections 65 to 75) contains miscellaneous, transitional and general provisions.
Schedule 1 deals with amendments to the audit of Best Value arrangements under the Local Government Act 1999. Schedule 2 deals with minor and consequential amendments made necessary by the Act. Schedule 3, which has already been commenced, sets out arrangements for detailed statutory transfer schemes required by the Act and Schedule 4 sets out relevant repeals.
Article 3 and Schedule 2 to this Order make transitional provision and savings.
Paragraph 1 of Schedule 2 to this Order ensures that the Auditor General for Wales cannot charge the National Assembly for Wales for auditing its accounts for the financial year 2004 — 05. This provision is necessary as the audit work will be done after the Act comes into force, but relates to a period during which section 93(3) of the Government of Wales Act 1998 prohibited the Auditor General for Wales for charging for that work.
Paragraph 2 of Schedule 2 to this Order preserves the Assembly’s power to make accounts and audit regulations under the 1998 Act in respect of accounts for financial years beginning before 1 April 2005. For later financial years, the Assembly will make such regulations under section 39 of the Act.
Paragraph 3 of Schedule 2 to this Order saves, in respect of local government bodies in Wales, the provisions of section 18 of the 1998 Act, which provides powers for recovering amounts not accounted for, and other related provisions of that Act. (The saving does not apply to one category of local government bodies in Wales, police authorities, because the relevant provisions of the 1998 Act have already been repealed, in respect of them, by the Local Government Act 2000). The saving applies only to accounts of the bodies concerned for financial years beginning before 1 April 2005. It is also limited to the situation in which a local government elector for the area of a relevant body has made an objection under section 16(1)(a) of the 1998 Act.
The only provisions of the Act which will not be in effect when this Order comes into force are subsections (1) to (5) of section 54, which impose restrictions on the circumstances in which certain information obtained by the Auditor General for Wales or an auditor can be disclosed.
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