Parliamentary Committees and Public Enquiries
|Printable version||E-mail this to a friend|
More effective parliamentary scrutiny of government spending needed
The Commons Procedure Committee calls for MPs to have a more direct and effective role in the scrutiny of Government expenditure proposals.
- Read the report summary
- Read the report conclusions and recommendations
- Read the full report: Authorising Government expenditure: steps to more effective scrutiny
The report focuses on the annual Estimates process, the system the House uses to control Government spending of money raised through taxation.
It is published on the day (19 April) when the Government presents its Main Supply Estimates to Parliament, formally asking the House to approve the expenditure of taxpayers' money. In April 2016 the Government sought formal approval for the expenditure of over £500 billion in this way.
Under the present system, three Estimates days formally allocated for the consideration of Government spending plans in each session are allocated by the Liaison Committee for debate on select committee reports.
Though the committee reports may be related to an Estimate, it is rare for the Government's proposals for expenditure to be examined and debated on such days.
The report recommends that, in future, the Backbench Business Committee should choose actual Estimates to be debated on Estimates days, with the Liaison Committee in return receiving three backbench business days for debating select committee reports.
The Committee also recommends:
- A Government commitment to debates in the House on the outcome of each Spending Review
- Presentation, consideration and authorisation of Main Estimates before the start of the financial year to which they relate
- At least five weeks between the presentation of each set of Estimate and debates on them in the House
- Two days of debate on Main Estimates, with effect from the 2017–18 Session
- Clearer, simpler and more consistent presentation of Estimates information, and online publication of the figures to meet open data standards
- Publication of details of calculations leading to changes in block grants under the Barnett formula
Chair of the Procedure Committee, Charles Walker OBE MP commented:
"MPs must scrutinise Government spending proposal effectively, and must also be seen to do it effectively.
MPs currently approve plans to spend billions of pounds following debates on select committee reports that are often only loosely related to a couple of departmental estimates. Select committees, the Public Accounts Committee and the National Audit Office have a crucial role in scrutinising Government expenditure, but under our present system this scrutiny all happens after the fact.
Holding the Executive to account through scrutinising proposals for the spending of taxpayers' money is one of the most vital jobs of parliamentarians. The committee's proposals will be a significant step in ensuring that spending plans get the scrutiny in the Chamber that they deserve.
We expect the Procedure Committee in the new Parliament to pick up this Committee’s work on House scrutiny of Government expenditure plans."
Latest News from
Parliamentary Committees and Public Enquiries
Brexit: agriculture report published04/05/2017 12:20:00
The EU Energy and Environment Sub-Committee publishes its report which investigates the implications of Brexit for UK agriculture and food, particularly the implications of leaving the EU's Common Agriculture Policy and the Single Market.
Lords Committee reports on skills needed to maintain UK theatre04/05/2017 09:25:00
The Communications Committee publishes its report Skills for theatre: Developing the pipeline of talent.
Breaking the cycle of nuclear indecision: Government must act03/05/2017 15:25:00
The House of Lords Science and Technology Committee report 'Nuclear research and technology: Breaking the cycle of indecision' states that we have reached a critical moment for the future of the United Kingdom as a serious nuclear nation, and sets out a series of recommendations for the new Government after the general election.
Pupils should have more time for well-being, say MPs03/05/2017 13:15:00
As part of a joint inquiry into children and young people's mental health, the Health and Education Committees found that financial pressures are restricting the provision of mental health services in schools and colleges. The next Government must review the effect of the budget reductions in the education sector, the report adds.
Civil service inquiry breaks new ground as Government approaches Brexit03/05/2017 12:20:00
An in-depth consideration of the relationship between Ministers and civil servants is vital as Whitehall faces the challenges of leaving the EU – says the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee in its report.