The longer the debate continues the more important my hon. Friend’s amendment appears. She has been making the case that it is not apparent how Parliament’s role will be strengthened by the Government’s proposals. Indeed, it is fairly evident that Parliament’s role in the statistical function of the budget process could be weakened.
Parliament’s job is not only to scrutinise the money; it is to vote the money. We will be confronted with a proposed sum that is fixed for five years. It is not clear how that will be increased year by year, but we have been told that there will be some form of indexation. Parliament will therefore have no role at all in modifying the amount to meet any new requirements that might emerge, to respond to the unhappiness of the board about its funding for the discharge of a particular function or to implement recommendations that might be made from one year to the next. The purpose of Parliament is to vote the money. If the Minister is proposing that that expenditure is taken outside the normal process of parliamentary approval and locked away for five years, it is incumbent on him to give us more detail as to how the budget will change year by year.