Sir Edward LeighMain Page: Sir Edward Leigh (Conservative) - Gainsborough)
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The SNP too welcomes the appointment of Dame Fiona Reynolds to the role of chair of the National Audit Office. We appreciate the involvement of Caroline Gardner, as Auditor General for Scotland, in the appointment panel, which is good. We are sure that, given Dame Fiona’s previous role in the Council for National Parks, she will have a good ability to see the wood for the trees in holding the Government to account. I look forward to her doing so with her great skill and experience.
It is an honour to support the Prime Minister on the motion to appoint Dame Fiona Reynolds as chairman of the National Audit Office. It is rare that this House makes such an appointment, and so I wish to add my support as one of the new generation of Members.
In an era where we spend almost £4 in £10 of the national income, it is imperative that we spend it effectively, not to return money to the Treasury coffers but so that we can deliver the healthcare, education, police, armed forces and infrastructure that our country needs. This appointment is a vital part of how we achieve that, because it means that this House, independent of Government, has the ability to draw back the curtain and to see the facts as they are, not as we might wish them to be. That is a cornerstone of the rule of law under a sovereign Parliament. This right dates back centuries, but we owe it in its current form to William Gladstone—a great moderniser and disruptor who, we should note, was not afraid to make changes to the machinery of government in order to deliver for the working people of Britain.
I congratulate the hon. Member for Hackney South and Shoreditch (Meg Hillier) on securing a candidate of great calibre and unimpeachable independence. Having devoted much of her life to the world of conservation, Dame Fiona clearly takes the long view. I wish her many years of effective service in the knowledge that she has our full support.
Question put and agreed to.