Supply and Ways and Means

33.14The rule which withholds from the Commons the initiative in granting Supply and Ways and Means reflects the long-standing constitutional principle that a request from the Crown must invariably precede a grant by the Commons.1 The Crown's sole right of initiative in these matters is implied in procedure rather than expressly asserted.2 Thus, an announcement that Estimates will be laid before the House of Commons is contained in the Queen's Speech at the opening of a session; the Estimates are presented ‘by command’ of Her Majesty; and the resolutions by which they are voted are partly expressed in terms of grants to the Crown. In the case of Ways and Means resolutions for imposing taxes, the exercise of the royal initiative, otherwise unexpressed, is taken to be implied through the principle that no more money should be raised by taxation than is deemed necessary by the Crown to cover the Supply already voted by, or at any rate requested from, the House of Commons.3


  1. 1. With the development of parliamentary control over the Exchequer, the granting of Supply, a concept which hitherto had embraced both expenditure and taxation, was differentiated into two functions—the voting of sums of money (the recent usage of the term ‘Supply’) and the provision of revenue by taxation (or ‘Ways and Means’). Thereafter, it was accepted without question by the House of Commons that the rule applied to both of the now clearly distinguished functions of Supply and of Ways and Means, as well as to any business which belonged to either of these classes.
  2. 2. The Crown's recommendation is explicit in the case of Money resolutions and implied (through the requirement for them to be moved by a Minister) in the case of Supply and Ways and Means resolutions.
  3. 3. Modern practice has extended the scope of Ways and Means (see paras 36.136.2 ).