MPs pass remaining stages of Fiscal Responsibility Bill

21 January 2010

The Fiscal Responsibility Bill passed its remaining Commons stages - Committee of the whole House, Report and Third Reading - on 20 January

The Bill

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

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 to provide an explanation if targets are missed.

Committee of the whole House

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. These Committees - which are made up of between 16 and 20 MPs - reflect the political makeup of the House, so the government always has a majority.

But occasionally a Bill will be considered by a Committee of the whole House and this discussion takes place in the Commons Chamber itself, where all MPs can take part.

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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