The Consolidated Fund (Appropriation) Bill and the Finance Bill completed their remaining stages in the House of Lords on Monday 26 July. Conservative life Peers Lord Spicer and Baroness Browning made their maiden speeches in the debate, which was introduced by Lord Sassoon, Commercial Secretary to the Treasury.
Both Bills are known as 'Money Bills'. The Consolidated Fund (Appropriation) Bill provides parliamentary authority for funds requested by the Government. The Finance Bill encompasses all the changes to be made to tax law for the year, which were announced in the Budget on 22 June 2010.
Referring to the maiden speech he made in the Commons 36 years ago, also during a Finance Bill second reading debate, Lord Spicer raised his concern about raising interest rates to bring down the cost of the decifit as an alternative fiscal measure to that of reducing Government expenditure. Although a 'perfectly reasonable alternative', he said there were problems with it. 'If you have a little bit of inflation it can, in bad times, become quite big inflation. That was the point of my raising this in my maiden speech when we had 20 per cent inflation. One fifth of people's savings were collapsing every year. Even if you have low inflation, it is not good news for those dependent on savings or on fixed incomes.’
Baroness Browning called for the Government to ‘pursue banks' to ensure sufficient lending to the small business sector in order to contribute to growth and create jobs. She referred to the Committee of European Banking Supervisors’ ‘stress tests’ assessing the resilience of several EU banks. Published 'late in the day' last week, 'it took a lot of analysis by people over the weekend to identify that these assessments were in fact made on the banks' trade books, not on the whole balance sheets,’ she said. Baroness Browning called for ‘comprehensive and transparent’ assessment of banks.
Members of the Lords also discussed the following issues:
- value added tax
- reform of tax and benefits system
- monetary policy and the cuts in Government spending
- taxes and national insurance contributions on earned and ‘unearned’ income
- independence of 'central economic forecasts' provided by the Office for Budget Responsibility.
The House of Lords cannot amend Money Bills so committee stage, report stage and third reading are just formalities.
Royal Assent of the Consolidated Fund (Appropriation) Bill and the Finance Bill - the final stage of a Bill's passage through Parliament when the Bill becomes an Act (law) - is expected on 27 July.