MPs attack Welsh Office over 'lost millions'

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Indy Politics
THE WELSH Office, hit by a series of scandals, came under renewed attack from the Public Accounts Committee yesterday over 'lost' millions and poor monitoring of the way public money was spent by Training and Enterprise Councils and local authorities.

Referring to pounds 37m unaccounted for in road-building contracts with highway authorities and nearly pounds 6m 'lost' in Welsh Office payments to its seven TECs, Robert Sheldon, chairman of the cross-party PAC, said the Welsh story was a 'terrible' one.

Mr Sheldon warned Michael Scholar, Welsh Office permanent secretary who was giving evidence on a report from Sir John Bourn, Comptroller and Auditor General, that TECs were still subject to too few financial checks. Mr Scholar insisted there had been improvements but admitted they had not been introduced quickly enough.

Mr Sheldon dismissed as 'paltry', fines of pounds 600 to pounds 1,000 imposed by the Government on TECs that failed to implement sound accounting procedures. The TECs' combined annual income is pounds 138m. Mr Scholar said he had also threatened not to renew the contacts of TECs that failed to make the grade and their performance had improved.