HC Deb 29 July 1912 vol 41 cc1640-1

I wish to ask your ruling, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, with regard to our proceedings upon the Supplementary Votes for the Coal Mines (Minimum Wage) Act. Sir Erskine May, in his Parliamentary practice, says in regard to Supplementary Grants:— A Supplementary Estimate may be presented either for a further Grant to a service already sanctioned by Parliament in addition to the sum already demanded for the current financial year, or for a Grant caused by a fresh occasion for expenditure that has arisen since the presentation of the sessional Estimates, such as expenditure newly imposed upon the Executive Government by Statute. None of those conditions quoted by Sir Erskine May are fulfilled. There has been no Statute imposing additional expenditure upon the Executive Government, because the Coal Mines (Minimum Wage) Act made no mention in any of its Clauses of any expenditure of any sort or kind. I find that on page 559 Sir Erskine May further states:— In pursuance of the Standing Orders which regulate the financial procedure of the House, Committees of the Whole House are appointed to sanction by their resolutions grants of public money or the imposition of a charge upon the people. The Committee is appointed, either before the commencement or after the close of Public Business, by a Motion that 'this House Mill,' on a future day, 'resolve itself into a Committee' to consider the matter specified in the Motion, and at this stage no statement can be made. I venture to say that in this case that has not been done. I have referred to the various Acts which have been passed in the last year and the year before which do impose a charge upon the people. They are the Labourers (Ireland) Act, 1911, the Lunacy Act, 1911, the Small Landholders Act, 1911, the Coal Mines Regulation Act, 1911, the National Insurance Act, the Resident Magistrates (Belfast) Act, the Census (Ireland) Act, 1910, the Supreme Court of Judicature Act, 1910, and the Census (Great Britain) Act, 1910. They all provide for expenditure and every single one of them has a Clause which was based on a Resolution moved in Committee of this House. I therefore ask you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, whether under the circumstances which I have just mentioned, it will not be necessary to have a Committee to authorise the expenditure of this public money before a Supplementary Vote is taken?


The hon. Member was good enough to give notice of this question to Mr. Speaker, and, therefore, I have had an opportunity of considering it with some care. With regard to the first point about the question of the suggestion that the Bill ought to have had a Money Committee and a Clause in the Bill providing for the appointment of arbitrators, that, as Mr. Speaker said a few days ago, if it is a sound point, is one which will no doubt be taken notice of by the Comptroller and Auditor-General and is not a question for the Chair. With regard to the second point about the question of a Vote in Committee of Supply requiring a Money Committee, I do not think there is anything in that point. The Government is entitled, of course, to submit to the House a Supplementary Estimate for such purpose as they think fit, and it is for the Committee and the House on Report to say whether they will or will not accept that Supplementary Estimate.