ARCHIVE: Annual reporting - laying procedures
- Who does the guidance apply to?
- Overview of guidance
- Good practice
- Approaches to laying accounts
- Where the accounts are audited by the Comptroller & Auditor General
- Where the accounts are audited by auditors other than the Comptroller & Auditor General
- Where the Comptroller & Auditor General acts as the auditor by agreement
- Arrangements for signature of resource accounts
- Is the National Audit Office or minister laying?
- House of Commons papers
- Command papers
- Cross-border accounts
- Extra assistance in laying accounts
- Related pages
- Useful links
This guidance applies to executive NDPBs, and is aimed at sponsors and executive NDPBs who are laying the annual report and accounts (ARAs)
This guidance provides an overview of approaches to laying ARAs. This guidance should be followed along with:
This guidance is good practice.
Where the accounts are audited by the Comptroller & Auditor General
With effect from 2005-06, executive NDPBs will prepare a management commentary as part of their annual report and accounts (ARAs), which will include the information previously given in the separate annual report. There is no need to prepare a separate annual report in addition to the management commentary. You can find further information on this in chapter 7 of the Government Financial Reporting Manual.
As a result, the arrangements for laying the accounts as House of Commons papers have been simplified. Executive NDPBs should take into consideration the guidance issued by the Journal Office of the House of Commons: Reports and accounts of executive agencies: guide to Parliament and publishing.
Although this guide is aimed at executive agencies, much of the information will apply to executive NDPBs, in particular the procedures for laying the accounts before the House of Commons and the printing and format requirements.
Where the accounts are audited by auditors other than the Comptroller & Auditor General
In this event there is usually statutory provision for the body to submit its audited accounts to the relevant minister, who presents them to Parliament. As noted above, the accounts of executive NDPBs will, from 2005-06, include a management commentary, which will replace the need to prepare a separate annual report. As the accounts will be presented to Parliament by the minister as an Act paper, they will not be printed as a numbered House of Commons paper. The title page of the paper should state the Act or Statutory Instrument under which it is laid. The Journal Office’s guide gives further information (paragraphs 5 and 18-19).
Where the Comptroller & Auditor General acts as the auditor by agreement (i.e. there is no statutory provision for him/her to be appointed as auditor).
Where there is no statutory provision for the C&AG to be appointed as auditor of an executive NDPB (but he/she is appointed by agreement), it is unlikely that there will be any statutory provision for the accounts to be presented to Parliament. However, the accounts, including the management commentary, will be presented to Parliament by the minister as a command paper, i.e. they will not receive a House of Commons printing number. The procedures described in paragraph 20 of the Journal Office’s guidance will apply.
Defra’s sponsored bodies need to be aware of the DAO (GEN) 06/04. This letter announces new arrangements for signature of resource accounts and sending copies to the National Audit Office (NAO). As of the 2003-04 ARAs, departmental accounting officers need only sign one original copy of the annual report, balance sheet and statement on internal control and the letter of representation. Accounting officers no longer have to initial all other pages or to sign or initial three original copies. The letter of representation also suggests that departments might like to review, with their sponsored bodies, the arrangement those bodies have for signing and presenting their accounts for audit. Whatever arrangements are in place, the NAO will in all cases only require one signed copy of the accounts.
Sponsors should consult the NAO checklist when the NAO is laying the ARA for the body, or contact parliamentary branch early in the process if the minister is laying.
For details of format and procedures for laying, see the House of Commons Journal Office guidance. The Stationery Office (TSO) is the contracted publisher for all House of Commons papers, but they do not necessarily have to be the printers. If the body is using its own printers, it should liaise with TSO over the publishing requirements.
Most command papers are laid as part of a numbered series administered by HMSO (Her Majesty’s Stationery Office)( within the Office of Public Sector Information) – contact the HMSO for further details.
Scotland - The following bodies are designated as cross-border bodies under the Scotland Act, 1998, which means their accounts must be laid before the Scottish Parliament as well as Westminster:
- The British Potato Council
- Food From Britain
- Home Grown Cereals Authority
- Horticultural Development Council
- Meat and Livestock Commission
- Milk Development Council
- Sea Fish Industries Authority
Wales - Schedule 1 of the National Assembly for Wales (Transfer of Functions) Order 1999 requires the accounts of the Meat and Livestock Commission to be laid before the Assembly as well as Westminster. The Schedule contains no such requirement for the other bodies listed above.
The publications section at the NAO has been working in partnership with some external bodies to improve the advice available to clients regarding the laying, printing and publication of their ARA. The Stationery Office (TSO) has taken the lead in facilitating this project and has set up a website with guidance on the subject.
If you require additional information on planning and management issues, and do not have access to the Defra intranet, please contact the Delivery Relationship Team.
- Reports and accounts of executive agencies: guide to Parliament and publishing
- The Stationery Office (TSO)
- Government Financial Reporting Manual (FreM)
Page last modified: 8 May 2006
Page published: 8 May 2006