Mark and Ruth look at the growing fashion for re-writing Bills mid-air as they pass through Parliament, adding on all sorts of policy bells and whistles at the last minute.
Estimates are the Government's spending plans which are presented to Parliament for approval every year.
Each Government department produces its own annual Estimate, and HM Treasury compiles and publishes them together in a single Estimates report for presentation to Parliament.
Government requests to Parliament for funds for departments are made in at least two and sometimes as many as four stages throughout the year, in a process known as the 'Estimates cycle'.
Given the dependence of all forms of government activity on the availability of public finances, the Estimates process underpins all other forms of accountability and goes to the heart of the relationship between Parliament and Government.
Multi-year Spending Reviews set out headline spending plans for each Government department. Drawing on the plans outlined in the Spending Review, the Government then makes formal requests to Parliament for funds for departments for the financial year ahead. These requests are made in at least two and sometimes as many as four stages throughout the year in a process known as the 'Estimates Cycle'.
Departmental Estimates are scrutinised by departmental select committees in the House of Commons. Three days (other than Fridays) are then allotted in each parliamentary session for the consideration of Estimates in the Commons Chamber. These are known as Estimates Days. Any MP can bid, via the Backbench Business Committee, for an Estimates Day debate on one of the departmental Estimates.
Approval of the Estimates (Main or Supplementary) comes first in the form of a Supply resolution. However, such resolutions have political force, but they are not law. Consequently, legislation is also required - in the form of a Supply and Appropriation Bill - before the departmental expenditure set out in the Estimates is legally authorised by Parliament.
The legal basis for parliamentary control of Crown (i.e. Government) expenditure dates back to the Glorious Revolution of 1688-89 and Parliament’s decision to legalise the standing army but provide its expenses only for 12 months in advance. Over time, this principle – that expenses be granted only for the year ahead – was extended to other areas of government expenditure until, by 1830, all civil government expenditure was provided on this basis. Six key principles or rules now govern what has become known as the Estimates process.
A Money Bill is defined in Section 1(2) of the Parliament Act 1911. It is a public bill which in the opinion of the Speaker of the House of Commons contains only provisions dealing with national taxation public money or loans. If a bill is certified as a Money Bill by the Speaker, and is passed by the House of Commons, it will become law after one month, with or without the approval of the House of Lords.
18:18pm, 7 March 2023
Hansard Society (2023), The Estimates: A procedural and constitutional guide, (Hansard Society: London)
Delegated legislation is the most common form of legislation in the United Kingdom. It is the legislation of everyday life, impacting millions of citizens daily. But the terminology and procedures that surround it are complex and often confusing. This explainer unpacks delegated legislation - the terminology and Parliament's role in scrutinising it - to reveal more about how delegated legislation really works.
What a week! Suella Braverman's sacking from Government was immediately eclipsed by the appointment of former Prime Minister David Cameron as the new Foreign Secretary. Mark and Ruth explore the many questions this raises, not least for scrutiny of foreign affairs by MPs.
The Prime Minister’s decision to cancel the next stage of HS2 has given rise to criticism that once again the Government has ridden roughshod over Parliament. Just over 1,300 hours of legislative time have been spent on four HS2-related Bills over nine Sessions in the last decade. Why has it taken so long and what now happens to that legislation?
When parliamentarians reassemble at Westminster on 7 November for the start of the new Session, all eyes will be on the legislative programme to be announced in the King’s Speech. Speculation about the likely date of the next general election is rife at Westminster, but until the date is settled there are a lot of parliamentary issues still to be tackled. We’ve picked out a few things to look out for on the political horizon.