Legislative Programme

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament at 9:35 am on 16th June 1999.

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Photo of Donald Dewar Donald Dewar Labour 9:35 am, 16th June 1999

I understand Mr Chisholm's uncertainties, as it is a technical bill about the machinery of Parliament. It is a very important bill with far-reaching consequences in regard to the way in which we conduct our business.

The chamber will be familiar with the fact that when the consultative steering group was set up, it established the financial issues advisory group, a sub-committee of men and women of particular expertise, to examine this matter. They devised a financial cycle for the planning of finance and for verification that the Parliament's views had been carried out. It is a testing matter because it will ensure that our financial arrangements will be under much more thorough and detailed scrutiny than has been possible at Westminster. For example, supplementary estimates are of some importance. Although at Westminster there may be, in theory, some way in which we can examine supplementary estimates, no one ever does and those go through on the nod. Here there will be machinery for scrutiny in the Finance Committee and relevant ministers can be interviewed-that is a nice, neutral term-so that this Parliament can keep closely in touch with what is happening on financial matters and the allocation of moneys. I say with heartfelt sincerity that there will be times when the Administration will curse all this scrutiny, but it is right that this machinery is put in place.