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1. In this Report the Council propose the introduction of regulations for the Board of Scrutiny, together with certain amendments of the statutory provisions for the Board.
2. In their Second Report (Reporter, 1996-97, p. 856) the Board of Scrutiny included a section (paragraphs 30-33) on the remit of the Board, in which they discussed the functions and duties of the Board and the purpose for which it was established. They pointed out that, while the Statute for the Board (Statute A, VII) allows the University to make Ordinances defining the Board's powers and duties in greater detail than would be appropriate in the Statute, no such Ordinances have yet been enacted, and they included in their Report (paragraph 33) a 'statement of remit' which was intended as a basis for a set of regulations. The Council agree that it would be helpful to provide a more detailed account of the Board's functions than that given in the Statute, and in responding to the Board's suggestions it was their original intention to propose, for approval by the University, regulations which would include provisions along the lines suggested by the Board. However, the Council have for some time been concerned about the potential overlap between the activities of the Board of Scrutiny and those of the Audit Committee. The latter are determined for the University by the HEFCE, in the Financial Memorandum and the Audit Code of Practice (see Reporter, 1993-94, p. 147, and 1994-95, p. 166). The Council have recently been informed that the HEFCE intend to issue a revised Audit Code of Practice, which is likely to extend the remit of the Audit Committee, and which will therefore make it necessary to review the relationship between the Committee and the Board of Scrutiny. In the light of this information, the Council have agreed to postpone consideration of detailed provisions for the remit of the Board of Scrutiny until revised arrangements for the Audit Committee are known. In the meantime, they propose outline regulations for the Board which set out in general terms the nature of the Board's responsibilities.
3. The Board also commented in their Report (paragraphs 34-36) on the status of the University Press in relation to the Board's activities, and in particular on the recommendation contained in their 1996 Report that the accounts of the Press should be brought within the scope of the Board's scrutiny. Following discussions between representatives of the Board and representatives of the Press Syndicate over the past year, the Council have agreed to propose an amendment of Statute A, VII, 6, which governs this matter. In its present form the Statute exempts the Press from the general requirement to make available any documents that may be requested by the Board of Scrutiny in the course of their inquiries; this provision is designed to recognize the special constitutional nature and operational requirements of the Press, including the need to safeguard the confidentiality of information about Press business which might be commercially sensitive. Under the proposed amendment this general exemption would remain in force, but the University would be empowered to specify by Ordinance certain classes of document which the Board of Scrutiny would be entitled to consult. A regulation has been included in the proposed regulations for the Board which defines the specified classes as 'such documents or accounts relating to the University Press as have been submitted by the Press Syndicate or by officers of the Press to the Council or to the Finance Committee of the Council'.
4. In the final paragraph of their Second Report (paragraph 37) the Board drew attention to the unfortunate effect of one of the statutory provisions relating to membership of the Board. They said:
The final sentence of Statute A, VII, 4 provides that 'No retiring member of the Board may be elected or re-elected as a member in class (c) until one year has elapsed after the end of his or her period of service'. While this provision is entirely reasonable in the case of a member who has served a full term, it creates an absurdity in the case of a member elected to fill a casual vacancy. This year, one member retires after having filled a casual vacancy for a single year, but is precluded by Statute from standing for re-election; another member is resigning after two years' service, and the elected replacement will be excluded from serving beyond a two-year period. When taken in conjunction with the fact that six members retire in alternate years, the statutory provision enforces an unacceptable lack of continuity on the Board. In addition, it makes the filling of a casual vacancy quite unattractive, as the year or so that is needed to accumulate experience cannot be built upon.
The Council recognize the force of the Board's argument, and have accordingly agreed to propose an amendment of the Statute which would remove the present restriction in the case of members who have served for less than four years.
5. The Council recommend:
I. That, subject to the approval of Her Majesty in Council, the Statutes of the University be amended as follows, and that the proposed amendments be submitted under the Common Seal of the University for the approval of Her Majesty in Council:
THE BOARD OF SCRUTINY
By amending the last sentence so as to read:
A retiring member of the Board who has served for four or more consecutive years shall not be eligible to serve again as a member in class (c) until one year has elapsed after the end of his or her previous period of service.
By relettering subsections (b) and (c) as (c) and (d) and by inserting the following as subsection (b):
(b) to consult such official documents or accounts of the University Press as may be specified by Ordinance;
By inserting in the last sentence after the words 'under subsection (a)' the words 'or subsection (b)'.
II. That, if Recommendation I is approved, regulations for the Board of Scrutiny be approved as follows, with effect from the date on which the amendments of Statute contained in Recommendation I take effect:
1. It shall be the duty of the Board of Scrutiny to scrutinize on behalf of the Regent House each year the Annual Report of the Council (including the Annual Report of the General Board to the Council), the accounts of the University, and any Report of the Council proposing allocations from the Chest.
2. In carrying out their scrutiny of the documents specified in Regulation 1, the Board shall have the right to examine the policies of the University and the arrangements made for the implementation of those policies, and to report thereon to the Regent House.
3. The Board shall have power, in accordance with Statute A, VII, 6(a), to consult any official documents or accounts (other than those of the University Press) which are relevant to any enquiry that they may conduct under the provisions of Regulation 2; they shall also have power, under the provisions of Statute A, VII, 6(b), to consult such documents or accounts relating to the University Press as have been submitted by the Press Syndicate or by officers of the Press to the Council or to the Finance Committee of the Council.
15 June 1998
|ALEC N. BROERS, Vice-Chancellor||DAVID HARRISON||PENNY PEREIRA|
|T. S. ADKINS||D. E. L. JOHNSTON||SANDRA RABAN|
|SARAH BONNETT||JOHN A. LEAKE||M. SCHOFIELD|
|TERENCE ENGLISH||A. M. LONSDALE||DAVID M. THOMPSON|
|G. R. EVANS||C. T. MORLEY||DANIEL B. WAGGONER|
|A. L. R. FINDLAY||ONORA O'NEILL||JOAN M. WHITEHEAD|
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