On 29th January 2018, a delegation of Members of the Parliament of Bermuda’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and their Clerk, visited the National Assembly for Wales. This visit was organised by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) as part of their three year programme aimed at Strengthening Financial Scrutiny across the UK’s Overseas Territories. CPA UK has formed a consortium with the UK National Audit Office (NAO) and the Government Internal Audit Agency (GIAA) to deliver a three year project of activities to bring together parliamentarians and audit officials from the territories and UK to discuss frameworks for good practice and priorities in public financial management.
Learning from one of the world’s oldest parliaments
The delegation were keen to visit the National Assembly to discuss the shared challenges and opportunities of working in a smaller legislature. The Parliament of Bermuda, is one of the oldest in the world, established in 1620, and is made up of 36 Members.
We discussed the role of those tasked with supporting PACs in their work. We were pleased to welcome the Assistant Auditor General, Anthony Barrett, to talk about the relationship between the Wales Audit Office and the Public Accounts Committee.
The delegation were also interested in how the Committee’s work programme is determined, planned and prioritised and how Committee inquiries are undertaken. On both sides it was interesting, as well as reassuring, to hear about the shared challenges of holding the Government to account with limited numbers of elected Members to do so.
Discussions also focused on what makes for an effective Public Accounts Committee and the need for Committee consensus, independence and to produce constructive outcomes.
National Assembly for Wales Public Accounts Committee Chair, Nick Ramsay AM, commented:
“We were delighted to welcome the delegation from Bermuda as we recognise the value of exploring international good practice in the parliamentary oversight of public finance. It has been most insightful to explore the differences and similarities between the approaches of Bermuda and Wales and discussing approaches to maintaining the Public Accounts Committee’s effectiveness while working within a small legislature”.
The visit was very informative for all those attending and contributed to the deepening of the understanding of international good practice in the oversight of public finance. The visit also contributed to building capacity and confidence of the Bermudan PAC to work more effectively, and it was a privilege for the National Assembly to be part of that.
We hope to have established a long term relationship with the Bermudan PAC and that we will continue to share support and good practice for many years to follow.