History of Auditing Post 1700

History of Accounting > History of Auditing > Auditing in the 1700s and later

By the year 1702 the office of Auditor of the Receipt of the Exchequer appears to have risen in importance, and was then held by Lord Halifax. The record of the proceedings connected with the ceremony of the installation of the Lord High Treasurer in the Black Book of the Exchequer, under date 11th May 1702, informs us that the Treasurer, having received his staff of office from Queen Anne, came, about ten in the morning, “to the house of Lord Halifax, the Auditor of the Receipt of the Exchequer, where he was attended with many Earls, Barons, Privy Councillors, the King’s Attorney and Solicitor, and other persons of quality ; they being assembled in the two great rooms were treated with chocolate, &c., by the said Lord Halifax.” In the narrative of the subsequent proceedings it is stated that the great keys of the Treasury were presented to the Treasurer by the Auditor, and handed back again to the latter; and that his Lordship, attended by the Barons of the Exchequer, Dukes, Earls, &c., went into the Auditors’, Pells’, and Tellers’ offices, and viewed the cash in the last.

In the eighteenth century the whole system of auditing the national accounts had become little better than a farce. When Pitt became Chancellor of the Exchequer the audit was ostensibly performed by two officers, called ” Auditors of Imprest,” who ” each had in some years of the war received as much as £16,000, but their office had become a sinecure; its duties were wholly performed by clerks, who confined themselves to ascertaining that the accounts were rightly added, but without any attempt at a real investigation. Every kind of fraud and collusion could grow up under such a system, and there appears to have been also little or no check upon the fees, perquisites, and gratuities given to persons in official situations.”‘ Among the many measures carried by Pitt for the purifying of administration was one abolishing the office of ” Auditors of Imprest,” and appointing a board of five commissioners with the largest and most stringent powers of auditing the public accounts of every department.1

1 Lecky’s ” England in the Eighteenth Century,” V. 30.

To the eighteenth century, also, belongs the last series of audited accounts to which we shall refer, namely, the accounts of the factors on the estates forfeited in consequence of the Jacobite risings of ” The ‘Fifteen ” and ” The ‘Fortyfive.” These accounts were sworn to by the factors, and were examined and passed at the Exchequer. The docquet usually appearing on the accounts of ” The ‘Fifteen” is: ” This Accompt being this day of 17 examined, settled and aggreed to is signed by the Commissioners and the Accomptant, and the Ballance ordered to be payed into the Exchequer by the Commissioners precept of this date being for the sume of pounds shillings and pence sterling.” The majority of the accounts of ” The ‘Forty-five ” bear only the short certificate :

” Exd p. D. Moncreiffe, Audr.

Exd p. Alex’ Dougall, AccompV

When the Poor Rate was first established in England the accounts of the overseers were merely submitted to the vestry of the parish for approval. An Act of Elizabeth imposed on Justices of the Peace the duty of examining these accounts. This examination, which degenerated into a mere formality, though subsequently modified, was not abolished until 1834, when auditors were appointed to audit the accounts of each Union and of the parishes comprised in it. This system in its turn gave place in 1879 to the system of audit by officials of the Local Government Board. In Scotland, while the accounts of many parishes were regularly audited, a compulsory audit of the accounts of parochial boards, which then became parish councils, was only introduced so recently

1 Leck/s ” England in the Eighteenth Century,” V. 32.

as 1894.1 The accounts of the Scottish burghs, as we have seen, have for long been subjected to audit. In 1822 it was enacted8 that accounts of royal burghs certified by the provost should be annually deposited with the town-clerk, to remain for thirty days open to inspection and complaint to the Exchequer. An effective audit of burgh accounts was introduced by the Town Councils (Scotland) Act, 1900,3 and the appointment of burgh auditors is now, with the exception of the five largest burghs, in the hands of the Secretary for Scotland. In Ireland, the official system of audit was introduced in 1838. The first Irish poor law statute,4 of that year, provided for the appointment of auditors to audit the accounts of all persons liable to account under the Act. The powers and duties of these auditors are now regulated by the Local Government (Ireland) Act, 1902.5

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)

Enter you Email and Win!

Sign up for our drawing for an Apple IPhone to help you organize your business contacts, calendar events, and more, by subscribing to our periodic newsletter. Simply add your email below and you will be enrolled. We will never, ever sell or spam your email, and you can cancel at any time!

Cite this page:

Contribute meaningful comments to the Accounting community...