Financial Provisions

Part of House of Commons (Administration) Bill – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 27th June 1978.

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Photo of Mr William Price Mr William Price , Rugby 12:00 am, 27th June 1978

I do not think that anybody has ever tried to conceal the fact that as far as the financial independence of the House of Commons is concerned the changes are quite modest. There is a certain vagueness about the present situation, and I readily concede that. How does one define an expense? How does one define what might be capital expenditure? Where does the Treasury fit into the new arrangements?

I think that the matter can be handled only on the basis of talks between people and a good deal of common sense. However, I would not have thought that it would be necessary for the Commission to ask the Treasury for a sum of money to improve the plumbing in this House. I would have thought, however, that if it were suddenly decided that we needed to spend a substantial sum of money on a new parliamentary building, that would be a matter which clearly the Treasury would have to look at carefully.

What I am saying is that the effect of this amendment would be to amend the cope of the proposed new Commission Estimate under Clause 3(1) to include expenses in connection with the administration of the House of Commons instead of expenses incurred for the service of the House of Commons, on the presumption that the administration is wider than the service, and I do not believe that that is so. If my hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham, West (Mr. English) believes that a situation could arise in which it would be so, I would seek to give him the assurance, as far as I am concerned—and I have taken all the advice that is available to me on this matter —that that is not the case.