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Report of the Council on the statutory provisions for the Board of Scrutiny and on regulations for the Board: Notice

27 July 1998

The Council have considered the remarks made by Professor Lamb at the Discussion of this Report on 9 July 1998 (Reporter, p. 926).

The Council regret that it was not possible to publish this Report earlier. It is true, as Professor Lamb says, that a first draft of the Report was completed in August 1997, and this was considered by the Council during the Michaelmas Term. However, it became necessary to revise that draft in the light of information received from the HEFCE about their intention to issue a revised Audit Code of Practice, affecting the work of the Audit Committee. The Council were first advised of the HEFCE's proposals in January 1998, but they were not able to judge how far the revised Code was likely to affect the remit of the Board of Scrutiny until later in the Lent Term, when the HEFCE circulated a consultation paper. Professor Lamb points out that the responsibilities of the Board of Scrutiny and those of the Audit Committee are different in that the Board reports to the Regent House while the Audit Committee reports to the Council; nevertheless the two bodies are concerned with the same subject matter, and the Council have been anxious to ensure that in the definition of their respective duties there should be no duplication of effort between them.

Although the discussions between the Board and the Press Syndicate were completed by May 1997, the changes in the draft Report which were introduced subsequently made it necessary for the Council to consult both the Board and the Press Syndicate again; consultation with the Syndicate was not completed until late in May 1998.

As regards the wording of proposed Regulation 3, the additional phrase to which Professor Lamb draws attention is not intended to be restrictive; on the contrary, the Council believe that this addition is desirable in order to clarify the provisions of the Statute and to indicate the full extent of the Board's powers. As Professor Lamb has pointed out, the Statute empowers the Board to consult documents 'which may be relevant to any enquiry', but there is nothing to indicate what kind of enquiry is referred to, and indeed there is no provision anywhere in the Statute for the Board to conduct an 'enquiry' of any kind apart from section 1, which requires them to 'scrutinize' the three key documents published by the central bodies each year, the Council's Annual Report, the University Accounts, and the Allocations Report (or Reports). In order to make it clear that this scrutiny need not be confined to a consideration of the three key documents themselves, but may extend more widely so as to embrace the background to them, the Council thought it desirable to provide explicitly, in proposed Regulation 2, that the Board should have the right 'to examine the policies of the University and the arrangements made for the implementation of those policies'. From this it followed that Regulation 3 should refer to the provisions of Regulation 2 when explaining more fully the Board's power to call for documents.

In the light of these considerations the Council are submitting a Grace to the Regent House (Grace 2, p. 974) for the approval of the recommendations of their Report.

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Cambridge University Reporter, 29 July 1998
Copyright © 1998 The Chancellor, Masters and Scholars of the University of Cambridge.