HC Deb 26 March 1968 vol 761 cc1169-70

Order for Second Reading read.

Mr. Speaker

Before I call the Financial Secretary to the Treasury to move the Second Reading of the Bill, may I remind the House of the scope of the debate. Any questions of administrative policy may be raised which are implied in such grants of supply, but questions of taxation and legislation cannot be raised.

3.46 p.m.

The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Harold Lever)

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.

As it will be obvious to the House that the Bill is but a pale shadow of its former self, it may be thought right that I should make a statement about its present form.

The reason for this is that the Bill no longer includes the traditional Clause conferring power on the Treasury to borrow temporarily up to the limit of supply authorised by the Bill. This is due to the enactment on 13th March of the National Loans Act. As hon. Members will be aware, Section 18 of the Act authorises any excess of Consolidated Fund payments over receipts to be met from the National Loans Fund, and Section 12 gives the Treasury a general power to borrow sufficient sums to meet the difference between the authorised payments out of, and the authorised receipts into, that Fund.

This new power replaces all the existing Treasury borrowing powers under previous legislation, among them the temporary borrowing power conferred by the annual Consolidated Fund and Appropriation Acts. The passage of the National Loans Act makes it unnecessary for the Treasury to continue to seek from time to time temporary powers of borrowing specifically related to the periodic supply grants authorised by Consolidated Fund and Appropriation Acts. In future, therefore, such Acts will make no provision authorising temporary borrowing by the Treasury. The House will be relieved to know, however, that this traditional occasion of regulated insomnia has not been impaired, and that all questions of policy or administration which are implied in the supply grants can be debated as formerly. Thus, the right of the House to use this occasion for a general airing of relevant grievances remains unimpaired.