Procedure Committee (Commons)

Should there be a Commons Budget Committee? inquiry

Inquiry status: Concluded

Due to the general election on 12 December 2019 the Committee has now closed this inquiry. Following the dissolution of Parliament on 6 November, all Select Committees will cease to exist until after the general election. If an inquiry on this subject is held in the future, the Committee may refer to the evidence already gathered as part of this inquiry.

Scope of the inquiry

The Procedure Committee has decided to look into establishing a Budget Committee of the House of Commons, to examine Government spending plans set out in multiannual spending reviews and annual departmental estimates.

The creation of a Budget Committee was recommended by Mr (now Sir) Edward Leigh and Dr John Pugh in a 2011 report commissioned the then Chancellor of the Exchequer. They envisaged a committee of the House to examine “economy, effectiveness and efficiency” in the Government’s spending plans, mirroring the retrospective scrutiny undertaken by the Public Accounts Committee. The committee would benefit from the measures introduced by the Treasury over the last decade to enable improved oversight of public spending measures.

The 2011 Leigh-Pugh report has been deposited in the House of Commons Library.

This inquiry continues the Procedure Committee’s work on scrutiny of Government spending plans commenced in the 2015 Parliament. In its 2017 report Authorising Government expenditure: steps to more effective scrutiny the Committee observed that “there are apparent benefits to the establishment of a dedicated committee of the House, with specialist support, to examine and report to the House on the merits of Government spending plans”, and suggested the issue would be considered further.

Terms of reference

Written evidence is therefore invited, no later than Friday 2 November 2018, to address any or all of the following points:

The requirement for a budget committee

  • Whether a dedicated budget committee to examine Government spending plans for economy, effectiveness and efficiency is desirable
  • What would be the potential outcomes for the House and for the Government of detailed scrutiny of multi-annual Spending Review and annual Estimates plans
  • What the scope of a budget committee’s activities should be, and what it should be expected to report on

The operation of a budget committee

  • How such a committee ought to discharge its responsibilities
  • The composition of a committee and its relationship with existing departmental select committees
  • The scope for innovative methods of operation, e.g. functioning partly as a general committee to facilitate detailed debates on selected estimates

Relations with existing mechanisms

  • How a budget committee could operate alongside departmental select committees
  • How a budget committee could operate alongside the Public Accounts Committee and the work of the National Audit Office

Support for a budget committee

  • What resources would be required to provide effective support for a committee of this nature
  • The desirability of appointing a Parliamentary Budget Officer and establishing an office to support the work of the committee
  • The use a dedicated committee could make of Government annual reporting and accounting documentation, under the Clear Line of Sight initiative

Submitting written evidence

The deadline for written submissions is Friday 2 November 2018 (changed from Thursday 4 October).

Latest evidence

Next meeting(s)

There are currently no public meetings scheduled.

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