HC Deb 22 February 1897 vol 46 cc958-60

(1.) The Treasury may, if they think fit, at any time for the purpose of providing money for the issue of sums out of the Consolidated Fund under this Act, or the repayment to that fund of all or any part of the sums so issued, borrow money by means of terminable annuities for such period not exceeding thirty years from the passing of this Act as the Treasury may fix, and all sums so borrowed shall be paid into the Exchequer.

(2.) The said annuities shall be paid out of moneys provided by Parliament for army services; and if those moneys are insufficient, shall be charged on and paid out of the Consolidated Fund or the growing produce thereof, but shall not be payable as part of the permanent annual charge for the National Debt.

(3.) The Secretary of State shall in every financial year cause to be made out and laid before the House of Commons an account, in the form required by the Treasury, of the money expended and borrowed and the securities created under this Act, and the accounts of expenditure under this Act shall be audited and reported upon by the Comptroller and Auditor General as appropriation accounts in manner directed by the Exchequer and Audit Departments Act, 1866.


moved, in Sub-section (1) to leave out the words "may, if they think fit, at any time," and to insert instead thereof the word "shall." He desired to remove the indefinite character of the clause as it stood. The clause was drawn so that the Treasury need not borrow for the purposes of the Act unless they liked, but they did not know what the Treasury would do if they did not borrow. He feared that there would be some objectionable alternative savings. In his opinion the phraseology of the Bill could not be defended.


opposed the Amendment, saying that the clause was drawn in the ordinary way.


said he maintained that the rationale of the Bill was based on the supposition that this was capital outlay for permanent works which ought not to be provided for out of revenue, but out of capital. It was stated during the Debate that the whole of these works were of a permanent nature, and the sole argument in favour of asking Parliament to part with its annual control of expenditure was simply because this outlay was provided for in a lump sum, and to be voted once and for all. No portion of this £5,000,000 was proposed or ought to be taken out of revenue. The whole ought to be raised by loan, and the Amendment gave effect to this proposal, and prevented any part being paid for out of revenue, and unless it was adopted there was nothing in the Bill, as at present drawn, which prevented the money from being taken entirely or largely out of revenue.


said that he did not consider the explanation of the Under Secretary to be a satisfactory one. Either the money was to be raised by loan, or it was not; and the Committee wished to know how the Government stood exactly with regard to the Measure. Did the Government propose to come to Parliament annually for sanction as to the unexpended portion of the money, or did they think it was inadvisable to come to Parliament for a ratification of the sums that were to be expended. This large sum contained in the Bill was to be spread over an indefinite period, and it appeared that Parliament should not be competent to revise the expenditure. If that was the position of the Government in the matter, surely the words of the suggested Amendment were more in keeping with the object which the Government had in view than the words in the Bill itself.

And, it being midnight, the Chairman left the Chair to make his Report to the House.

Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Thursday.