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 Michael English Mr Michael English , Nottingham West 12:00 am, 27th June 1978

Unlike my right hon. Friend the Member for Bermondsey (Mr. Mellish), you do not forget Standing Order No. 55, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

My hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary made a rather strange statement in answer to the hon. Member for Worthing (Mr. Higgins). He said he was advised that whatever the Commission presented to Parliament would need the Treasury's consent. He was advised that that was some kind of fundamental rule of the constitution. I do not believe that there are many fundamental rules of the British constitution. They are laid down mainly by this House or by the courts of law. But it has certainly been held by the courts that an Act of Parliament which has been passed by both Houses and given Royal Assent overrules a mere Resolution of this House of Commons. I believe the case is Boles v. Bank of England earlier in this century.

The situation, therefore, is that my hon. Friend must be wrong for the simple reason that the rule about not imposing a charge on the people unless it is proposed by a Treasury Minister is merely a Standing Order of this House. I believe that it is a Standing Order which was passed shortly after the Restoration in 1660. It is not a basic rule going back to the Middle Ages. It is a very simple Standing Order of the House which could be altered or amended by the House, and my hon. Friend is proposing that it probably should be, but it would certainly be amended by Act of Parliament anyway.