§ Mr. Lansley
To ask the Chairman of the Public Accounts Commission if he will estimate the additional funding required to extend NAO access to the accounts and internal accounting documents of private limited companies. 
§ Mr. Sheldon
The Comptroller and Auditor General does not have a guaranteed right of access to the relevant records of private bodies providing public services under contract. Where access is not provided for in the relevant contracts, the Comptroller and Auditor General may be unable to check that public funds have been used as Parliament intended and with due concern for regularity and value for money. The Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee and I have therefore recommended to the Government that the Comptroller and Auditor General should have a guaranteed right of access to contractors' records. The purpose would be to enable the Comptroller and Auditor General to audit the accounts from which the contractor is paid or pays in revenue, not to audit the contractors themselves.
Where the Comptroller and Auditor General does have access to contractors, he exercises this right only in the relatively few cases where he is unable to obtain sufficient assurance from other sources about the occurrence, propriety or value for money of the payments to, or receipts from, contractors. The resource implications of arrangements to guarantee access rights would depend on the additional extent to which such rights needed to be exercised. It would be for Parliament to decide what additional resources to provide to meet any needs identified by the Comptroller and Auditor General.