The Head of Law introduced the report. She highlighted the Audit Panel’s Terms of Reference. The Head of Law informed Panel Members that there was a Democracy Review underway and it was currently out for consultation. She said following the consultation proposals there might be another amendment to the constitution.
The Chair said he had requested this item because he thought it would be useful for Panel Members to be able to discuss their Terms of Reference. He said he was the Chair of the Constitutional Working Party when the Audit Panel was established and it was drawn in accordance with CIPFA guidance. The Chair said it would be good to see if the Terms of Reference were still functional as they had not changed since the Audit Panel was established.
The Head of Law said there was going to be a Democracy Review and the constitution will be looked at. She said it would be good if Panel Members await the outcome of the review, and if Panel Members have a view about their Terms of Reference they could respond to the Democracy Review Consultation. The Chair said as members of the Audit Panel they should be able to look at their own Terms of Reference.
The Head of Law stated that the outcome of the Democracy Review would be submitted to Council in February, which was not long now. She said the consultation was open to the Audit Panel and all Committees to make recommendations to Council but not to decide their own Terms of Reference. The Chair said that Panel Members could look at their Terms of Reference and see if they need to change anything.
Mr Warren commented that it would be helpful for Panel Members to be able to see the audit procedure rules referred to in the constitution, and the most up to date guidance relevant to this panel that would help Panel Members with their deliberations. Councillor Rathbone stated that this might be a bit premature, and that until the contents of the Democracy Review report is out it was unhelpful for Panel Members to have discussions on their Terms of Reference. He said there might be new structures and systems included in the recommendations following the consultation.
The Head of Law informed Panel Members that the Review was in 2 stages, firstly to get an agreement on the overall shape of the Council, and then to draft rules and the constitution to govern the proposed structure. Mr Warren asked if a formal request would be needed to input into the consultation, and was told by the Head of Law that the consultation was already out and open to the public via the Lewisham website.
The Chair said it was good practice to review the Panel’s Terms of Reference, to determine what had changed, and also to check whether the financial regulations reflect the current practice. Mr Warren said looking at the existing constitution Panel Members could say they had discharged a, b, & c of their responsibilities with the help of officers and the audit procedures. He said any thoughts on the specifications of Panel Members existing responsibilities could be put forward through the Democracy Review consultation.
RESOLVED that the report be noted.