Matters requiring authorisation by Ways and Means resolution

36.2Matters which are covered by the term ‘charges upon the people’ may be briefly summarized as: (a) the imposition of taxation, including the increase in rate, or extension in incidence, of existing taxation; (b) the repeal or reduction of existing alleviations of taxation, such as exemptions or drawbacks; (c) the delegation of taxing powers; and (d) the imposition of levies, charges or fees which are akin to taxation in their effect and characteristics. Other matters, while not ‘charges upon the people’ in a direct sense, relate to the raising of revenue and so come within the scope of Ways and Means. These matters are: (e) the granting of borrowing powers to the Crown; and (f) provision for the payment into the Consolidated Fund or the National Loans Fund of receipts which do not arise from taxation. Matters of all these categories require to be authorised by a Ways and Means resolution moved by a Minister in accordance with the procedure outlined in paras 36.2536.32, whether they are original provisions in bills or are proposed by way of amendments to bills. Further explanations and examples of each category are given in the following paragraphs.

Although impositions are not generally charges on the people unless the proceeds are payable into the Consolidated Fund, the absence of a requirement for payment into the Consolidated Fund is not by itself conclusive indication that a charge upon the people has been avoided. If, for example, money raised by a statutory imposition is not to be channelled through the Consolidated Fund but is nonetheless to be used for the benefit of the public at large or for purposes which might otherwise have required to be financed from the Consolidated Fund, that imposition is likely to need authorisation by a Ways and Means resolution.1 The payment of fees into a trading fund usually requires authorisation by a Ways and Means resolution, since trading funds can run surpluses which can be paid into the Consolidated Fund.2 On the other hand, local taxation and loans and even burdens imposed by Parliament, the proceeds of which are payable to local funds, fall outside the scope of Ways and Means.

The proposal of an alleviation of taxation, such as a drawback or a reduction in the rate of a tax, does not involve a charge on the people and does not require the special procedure appropriate to charges (see para 36.18 ).


  1. 1. See eg Merchant Shipping Act 1974, s 2, CJ (1973–74) 60; London Regional Transport Act 1984, s 49, ibid (1983–84) 261. See also paras 36.1136.14.
  2. 2. Government Trading Funds Act 1973, s 4. See, for example, Road Safety Act 2006 (c 49), ss 36, 39 and 40, CJ (2005–06) 478.