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A GOVERNMENT DEPARTMENT.
THE AUDIT OFFICE.
HE absolute necessity of a department for auditing the public accounts is self-evident. The indifference with which, in times gone by, public money has been squandered is a well-established fact. Yet we are happy to know that there are many to whom an act of dishonesty in relation to public money would be as reprehensible as a similar act in relation to anything else. We are only too well aware that there are others whose one object is their own self-interest; and, as far as possible, these must be made to act like honest men in their handling of public money, although they cannot be made honest.
Were all men strictly honest and accurate there would be, of course, no necessity for an Audit Office, but all history, past and present, shows only too convincingly how backward mankind is in this respect.
These are some of the reasons which suggest themselves for the existence of a great financial detective department, by whose agency not only dishonesty but carelessness may be detected; for sometimes the public lose by the latter as well as the former. Indeed, so necessary is such a check in the great spending departments, that practical economists earnestly urge the desirability of an audit which shall be thorough and effective as cheap at any price.
The word audit is from the Latin audio, to hear (literally "he hears"), and means, in reference to accounts, an examination of those accounts, with a hearing of the accountants in respect of such items as require explanation.
Up to the time of Richard II., and, indeed, with little interference for long afterwards, the king dealt with the national revenue much as he pleased. But as time advanced and taxation increased, people became convinced of the necessity of some restraint on the public expenditure.
The very earliest historical record we have of an audit of public accounts is in the fourteenth century, when we learn that a committee of Finance, consisting of Lords and Commons, was appointed with powers to inquire into the expenses of the royal household and of the offices of government. Again, in the time of Henry IV., we find that the Commons, who, during the minority of Richard II. had been occasionally allowed to appropriate the supplies to particular services, now claimed this appropriation as a right. Here we may see the commencement of the present system of appropriation of Parliamentary supplies, that is, to apply the money voted by the House of Commons to the particular purposes for which
it was granted. Though during this reign the Commons seem to have firmly established their claim to vote the national money and appropriate it to particular services, they appear for long afterwards to have exercised this right only at long intervals, and in a fitful and desultory way.
In the reign of Charles II., owing to rumours which were only too well founded, that a considerable portion of the large vote for the Dutch war was diverted from its original destination by the king making presents to his minions and favourite mistresses, a Bill was introduced by the Commons to appoint Commissioners to audit the public accounts. This Bill was, of course, strenuously opposed by the king and his counsellors as a direct invasion of the prerogative. Charles said he would never give his consent, as men would not take office if they were to be interrogated by the Commons and subjected to the arbitrary will of that House. But the most cogent argument of all was one not placed on the records, to wit, that it would reveal the many and valuable gifts of public money by the king to the sharers in his mirth and frivolities. The opponents of the Court threatened to impeach the Countess of Castlemaine, whom Charles was anxious to screen from prosecution, so he used his interest in favour of the Bill, which was, with little alteration, passed by the Lords..
Coming to later times, we find the auditors of the Imprest, who were officers of the Exchequer, and had the charge of auditing the great accounts of the Customs, naval and military expenses, &c. Their patents were vacated by the 25th George III. cap. 52, with compensation, and their functions and powers transferred to the "Commissioners for auditing the Public Accounts." These Commissioners were at first five in number, of whom two were required to be controllers of the army account. In 1805 (45 Geo. III., c. 91) an Act gave power to appoint three more Commissioners as an additional board for auditing the public extraordinary accounts, under the direction of the Treasury. The 46 Geo. III., c. 141, increased the number of commissioners to ten, to hold office during good behaviour, the chairman having a salary of £1,500 and the others of £1,200 a year each. The powers and duties of the Commissioners were from time to time augmented, and several additional offices brought under their audit by various statutes.
These various statutes have all been superseded by the Exchequer and Audit Department Act, 1866, which empowers the Crown under letters patent to appoint a Comptroller and
Auditor-General and an Assistant-Comptroller and Auditor, neither of whom shall hold any other office nor be capable of sitting as a member of Parliament, who shall examine and audit such accounts as the Lords of Her Majesty's Treasury may from time to time direct.
This Act also provides that the Treasury shall appoint officers, clerks, and other persons, and that Her Majesty may, by orders in Council, from time to time regulate the numbers and salaries of the respective grades into which the said officers, "are or shall be divided."
The establishment is located at Somerset-house, and is at present as follows:-ComptrollerGeneral of the Receipt and Issue of Her Majesty's Exchequer and Auditor-General of Public Accounts, salary £2,000; Assistant-Comptroller and Auditor, salary £1,500. These salaries are paid out of the Consolidated Fund. The salaries of the staff are defrayed out of the annual votes of Parliament. We have a division of the department into two branches, as follows:
The Directing Branch,
consisting of 7 principal clerks (of whom one is chief clerk), salary £775 to £900, by an annual increment of £25; 7 first-class clerks, £620 to £750, by an annual increment of £20; 38 secondclass clerks, 16 first section, salary £420 to £600, by an annual increment of £20; 22 second section, salary £215 to £400, by an annual increment of £15. The other division is known
The Examining Branch,
consisting of 84 examiners, 28 first section, salary £215 to £400, by an annual increment of £15; 56 second section, salary £100 to £200, by an annual increment of £10.
At present there are about 30 in the second section, no appointments having been made for some years, the vacancies having been filled up by the appointment of Lower Division clerks, as may be seen from recent reports.
We have also, in addition to the above, what is known as the Chancery Branch of the establishment which was created in 1875. Its duties consists in auditing the various accounts in the Court of Chancery.
It has 1 principal clerk, salary £775 to £900, by an annual increment of £25; 1 assistant to principal clerk, £620 to £750, by an annual increment of £20; 3 first-class clerks, salary £420 to £600, by an annual increment of £20; 6 second-class clerks, salary £215 to £400, by an annual increment of £15; 21 third-class clerks,
salary £100 to £200, by an annual increment of £10.
In auditing the accounts it is the duty of the examiner to see that every item of expenditure is vouched for and authorised, and that no item of the estimates granted by Parliament is exceeded. Should he detect any omission in these respects he must call attention to it, and then the department rendering the account, and, if necessary, the Treasury, are communicated with; and should the explanation not be considered satisfactory, the item under consideration is disallowed, or attention called to it in the annual report to Parliament.
The rate of promotion is fairly rapid, the average from second to first section of Examining Branch being five or six years. This used to be a favourite branch of the service for younger sons and other immediate connections of members of both Houses of Parliament. The present mode of appointing is of course infinitely superior.
So admirable has the Government system of auditing public accounts proved to be, that all commercial companies have followed in its wake. Nevertheless, many of them have not yet reached a sufficiently independent audit, and the result in numerous instances has proved most disastrous. The melancholy history of the City of Glasgow Bank affords a striking example. Had we an official audit of the accounts of our great commercial companies, including all joint-stock concerns, the public would be supplied with the best guarantee human agency could afford of the healthy working of such undertakings.
We require descriptions of every department in Her Majesty's service, somewhat similar to the above, to appear in each successive number of THE COMPETITOR. It will invariably be our aim to select the best sent in, and for this we are prepared to pay a moderate sum in cash. Indeed, one of our principal objects will be to give to the public, information on the working of the various departments under the Crown. We believe that much lukewarm loyalty and scepticism arise from the same cause-ignorance. While we shall make it a point to expose abuses where they evidently exist; while we shall endeavour to direct public attention to all kinds of simony existing under Government; while we shall be the first to recommend reforms, we at the very outset disclaim any intention of prying into trifling matters more or less personal in their nature. Above all, we shall look upon communications sent to the Editor as implying inviolable secrecy.
LESSON I.-The Alphabet, HE Greek alphabet consists of twenty-four are vowels and
Tletters, of which seven
A person beginning to learn the Greek Language must possess a considerable amount of patience and industry; we hope, however, in the following Lessons to smooth the way for him, by removing every difficulty and placing the subject before him in an easy and intelligible shape.
(2) Semi-vowels :-Liquids λ μ v p Sibilant σε
(8) Double consonants :—=ks, ys, or xs ψ=πς, βς, οι φε ζ=σδ
NOTE. The learner must at this stage make himself perfectly familiar with all the small letters of the alphabet. He must write out the characters over and over again, and read them aloud until he knows them as well as he knows his own alphabet.
The sign (*) placed over the initial vowel of a word aspirates it, as apua (harma). Words commencing with a vowel unaspirated are marked with the sign (') as éx (ek). These signs are called respectively spiritus asper, "rough breathing," and spiritus lenis, "soft breathing." In diphthongs the breathing is placed over the second vowel. There are three accents, the acute (') the grave (`) and the circumflex (").
THE PARTS OF SPEECH.
There are nine parts of speech in the Greek language, viz. article, noun, adjective, pronoun, verb, adverb, preposition, conjunction, and interjection. There are three genders: masculine, feminine, and neuter. There are also three numbers: the singular, used in reference to one object, the dual for two, and the plural for more than two. There are five cases in Greek: the nominative, genitive, dative, accusative, and vocative. These have the same property as the cases in Latin; the ablative in Latin is supplied sometimes by the genitive and sometimes by the dative in Greek. The definite article, ô, Я, Tó.
Gen. Dat. τοῖς ταῖς to the Acc. τους τάς τά the NOTE.-The article is learned thus, and must be repeated several times daily until it becomes fixed in the memory: Nominative-"haw, he, taw." Genitive" tou, tees, tou," and so on.
The plural is done thus: Nominative-" hoy, hai, ta" (pronounce a as in far). Genitive"tone, tone, tone," and so on.
THE FRENCH LANGUAGE.
LESSON I.-The Alphabet-Accentuation-Parts of Speech.
ALPHABET.-The French alphabet, like the English, consists of twenty-six letters, viz. :—
e grec zed
LI Mm Note.-K and w are only found in foreign words. The letters are divided into vowels and consonants. The vowels are a e io u and y. The remaining twenty letters are consonants.
ACCENTUATION. The accents are the ACUTE (') placed over the letter e only, as été, bonté. The GRAVE () placed over the vowels a eu, as là, dès, où. The CIRCUMFLEX (^) placed over any of the vowels to lengthen their sound, as âme, rêve, epitre, apótre.
The accents not only modify the sound of the vowels over which they are placed, but also change the meaning of the words, as la, the; là, there.
The CEDILLA is a kind of comma (c) placed under the letter c, which gives it the sound of ss, as, reçu.
The diaresis or tréma (**) consists of two dots placed over the vowels e i and u, denoting that these letters must have a distinct pronunciation from the other vowels with which they are connected, as hair, Esau.
The other marks of punctuation are the APOSTROPHE (') which denotes the suppression of either of the three vowels a e or i before a word beginning with a vowel or h mute, as l'oiseau for le oiseau (the bird); l'homme for le homme (the man). The HYPHEN (-) serves to join two or more words in one, as ai-je, arc-en-ciel. The sign of QUOTATION (“—") indicates a quotation.
PARTS OF SPEECH.-There are TEN parts of speech in French, viz. :—
GENDER.-There are only two genders in French, viz., masculine and feminine. Inanimate things, which are regarded as being neuter gender in English, must, therefore, be considered as either masculine or feminine in French.
RULE I. The article agrees with the noun which follows it in gender and number.
The definite article "the" is rendered in the singular number by le before a masculine and la before a feminine noun. The indefinite article "a" is rendered by un before a noun masculine and by une before a noun feminine. The plural of both genders of the definite article is the same, viz., les, Examples:
la rue = the street la porte = the door une rue = a street une porte a door
The vowels of le and la are suppressed before a singular noun beginning with a vowel or h mute, their places being denoted by an apostrophe (l'). This suppression is called ELISION, and the article and noun then form but one word, as—
l'ami = the friend l'homme =
The plural, however, undergoes no change, asles amis = the friends
les hommes = the men.
(1) J'ai une rose. (2) Avez-vous une rose? (3) Oui, j'ai une rose. (4) Nous avons frère. (5) Avez-vous un frère? (6) Non, mais j'ai une sœur. (7) J'ai un frère et une sœur. (8) Mon père a un cheval. (9) Votre père a-t-il un cheval? (10) Oui, mon père a un cheval et un chien. (11) Nous avons une fleur.
(1) I have a brother. (2) My sister has an apple. (3) The rose is beautiful. (4) Has your brother a house? (5) He has a dog. (6) Have you a friend? (7) He has a sister and a brother. (8) She has a flower. (9) The man has a soul. (10) My mother has a book and a flower. (11) The king has a house. (12) Is the queen beautiful? (18) My father has a house. (14) Is the grass beautiful? (15) The queen has a rose.
ANSWERS TO FRENCH EXERCISES. Key to Exercise I.-(1) I have a rose. (2) (4) Have you a rose? (3) Yes, I have a rose. We have a brother. (5) Have you a brother? (6) No, but I have a sister. (7) I have a brother and a sister. (8) My father has a horse. Has your father a horse? (10) Yes, my father has a horse and a dog. (11) We have a flower. (12) Hast thou a book? (13) She has the rose. (14) Has she a dog? (15) No, but she has a
Key to Thème I.-(1) J'ai un frère. (2) Ma sœur a une pomme. (3) La rose est belle. (4) Votre frère a-t-il une maison? (5) Il a un chien. (6) Avez-vous un ami? (7) Il a une sœur et un frère. (8) Elle a une fleur. (9) L'homme a une âme. (10) Ma mère a un livre et une fleur. (11) Le roi a une maison. (12) La reine est-elle belle? (13) Mon père a une maison. (14) L'herbe est-elle belle? (15) La reine a une
EFORE introducing to the learner an account, or a set of books, we consider it absolutely necessary that he should work some preliminary questions, in order to become the better acquainted with such terms as discount, percentage, &c., which are of very common occurrence in mercantile phraseology.
1. A man pays away £73 10s. 6d. on Monday, on Tuesday £70 6s. 6d., on Wednesday £78 14s. 9d., on Thursday and Friday together £22 12s. 6d. more than on Monday; on Saturday he paid £46 13s. 11d. Find how much he paid during the week.
2. A gentleman gave his steward £100 to pay the weekly wages of 35 men, who earned each
28. 8d. a day, but only 2s. on Saturday. How much money was left?
3. A person bought 25 yards of broadcloth at 7s. 9d., and 56 yards of tweed at 3s. 7d.; find how much he paid if the seller took off 21 per cent. for ready money.*
4. A bookseller bought from Longmans & Co. 100 arithmetics, selling at 3s. 6d. each; he paid 2s. 6d. each, 25 as 24; find his profit after retailing at full price.+
In taking off 5 per cent. we simply deduct 1s. for every pound, and for 2 we deduct 6d. When there are 9s. or 11s. we take off 3d. Thus 2 per cent. off £6 9s. is 3s. 3d., leaving £6 68. 9d. net.
Here the publishers charge for 96 books only, which is the custom in the trade.