Fiscal Responsibility Bill second reading in Commons

06 January 2010

Alistair Darling, Chancellor of the Exchequer, moved the second reading in the Commons of the Fiscal Responsbility Bill which was passed by 265 votes to 196

The Bill imposes a statutory duty on the Treasury to meet specific targets for the reduction of government borrowing and debt and gives Parliament a greater role in fiscal policy.

Key areas

The Bill requires the Treasury to make sure that:

  • Government borrowing in each financial year between 2010/11 and 2015/16 is lower than the previous year, measured as a percentage of GDP
  • Government borrowing in 2013/14 is no more than half its 2009/10 level. (A draft statutory instrument made under the Bill requires borrowing to be no more than 5.5 per cent of GDP in 2013/14)
  • Government debt is lower in 2015/16 than in 2014/15, measured as a percentage of GDP

The Bill also requires the Treasury to report to Parliament in the Budget and in Pre-Budget Reports and provide an explanation if the targets are missed.

The Bill now goes to a Committee of the whole House for detailed consideration.

When a Bill passes its second reading and is considered in detail, this usually takes place in a Public Bill Committee held outside the Chamber. But occasionally a Bill will be considered by a Committee of the whole House and this discussion takes place in the Commons Chamber itself.

Any Bill can be referred to a Committee of the whole House, but the procedure is normally reserved for finance Bills and other important or controversial legislation.

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