HC Deb 05 August 1912 vol 41 cc2667-8

I desire to take your ruling, Mr. Speaker, on a matter which arises out of an Amendment which I moved on Friday in Committee on the Finance Bill. The Government admitted that it would have the effect of remedying a real grievance, but they had a doubt whether it would have the effect of preventing it from being a Money Bill within the meaning of the Parliament Act. The question I desire to ask is whether any, and, if so, what steps can be taken to ascertain whether an Amendment, if inserted in the Finance Bill, will have the effect of preventing a Finance Bill being a Money Bill within the meaning of the Parliament Act, and whether it will be competent for an hon. Member to ascertain from Mr. Speaker his view on the question whether an Amendment will have that effect or not?


May I also point out that it would have the effect of reducing the charge upon the subject. The Government were prepared to accept the Amendment so long as it would not put the Finance Bill out of the category of Money Bills. The Government were prepared to go a step further as there are other grievances of the same kind which we also propose to remedy at the same time. They would also have the effect of reducing the charge on the subject.


I cannot give the hon. Gentleman a very satisfactory reply at present. He will see that several difficulties arise. First of all, my opinion is asked about matters which occupied the attention of the House in Committee. That in itself would be rather an objectionable, difficult and novel practice. Secondly, my duty under the Parliament Act is to consider a Bill as a whole when it is completed, and I think it would be undesirable for me to give opinions while a Bill is still in an inchoate stage. Thirdly, the hon. Gentleman will remember that I have to consult my two coadjutors on the matter, and considerable difficulty might arise if whenever I was asked a question with regard to a possible Amendment of a Bill I had immediately to summon my coadjutors and take their advice. I am afraid, therefore, it would be an inconvenient practice to take my opinion beforehand as to whether, if a particular Amendment were inserted in a Bill, it would or would not alter the character of what might be a Money Bill. On the other hand I am quite prepared to give hon. Members who seek my advice privately the best assistance I can, whether a Member of the Opposition or the Chancellor of the Exchequer, or anyone who is in charge of the Bill. If they approach me under those circumstances, I will certainly give, my very best attention to the matter and my assistance and advice, but I do not think I ought to go further than that.


Under those circumstances will the Chancellor of the Exchequer not take his courage in both hands, remedy the grievance and let the Parliament Act go?