COMMONS

Scheme for better debates on Government spending plans should start immediately

22 January 2018

The Procedure Committee report recommends that a pilot scheme on allocating debates for Estimates days, proposed by the Procedure Committee in the last Parliament, be implemented without delay for the remainder of the 2017–19 Session.

The annual Estimates process is the system the House uses to control Government spending of money raised through taxation. In the financial year 2016/17 the House authorised Government expenditure of £638.6bn through the Estimates process, after a total of three days' debate.

The report recommends that the first debates to be allocated under the pilot scheme will be on the Supplementary Estimates for 2017–18, which are expected to be laid before the House in the week of 5 February 2018.

The Committee recommends that two days should be allocated for these debates, and the Government is encouraged to provide for as much time as possible between the presentation of the Estimates and the days the Government plans to schedule for the debates, to allow backbench MPs the time to adequately examine the estimates and prepare bids to be submitted to the Backbench Business Committee.

Chair's comments

Chair of the Procedure Committee, Charles Walker OBE MP, said:

"Holding the Executive to account through scrutinising proposals for the spending of taxpayers' money is one of the most vital jobs of parliamentarians. These new procedures will enable MPs to demonstrate that the House is discharging its proper constitutional function.

In the financial year 2016/17 the House authorised Government expenditure of £638.6 billion over three Estimates days, with barely a mention of the sums which were formally under consideration.

I am delighted that the proposals put forward by the Committee have received a favourable response from the Government, as well as from the Liaison Committee and the Backbench Business Committee, and I look forward to the new system being implemented in the next few weeks."

Further information

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