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 would suggest that the only way in which this could work would be for discussions to take place in the normal way. This goes on all the time between Departments and the Treasury over demands for money. I should have thought that there was no other way in which one could do this and that there would be a Treasury involvement in public expenditure. There is a Treasury involvement.

What I am saying is that whilst these changes are relatively modest, they are, nevertheless, important in the sense that they give the Commission greater powers over spending money on services than we have had in the past, and that is a step in the right direction. However, I do not seek to conceal the fact—I began by saying this—that it is a relatively modest change, and I understand that that is what was envisaged all along.

Perhaps I may add a comment. The Bill as it now stands would make it possible for the Commission to consider with Ministers, for example, House printing or accommodation, in the Commission's Estimates. I know that the main argument against any provision to do so in the Bill is that any such decision would be entirely premature until the Commission has had an opportunity of considering whether such steps would be desirable or practical.

I come back to the point that I tried to make a moment ago. This is one of the reasons why there is a certain vagueness about what exactly is meant, because it is not at all clear at this stage which role the Commission will seek to take upon itself and which responsibilities it will wish to assume. That is something that will be clear in due course.