Debate on Budget resolutions

36.34The scope of debate in respect of the Budget resolutions, on which the Finance Bill is introduced, differs from that for other debates on Ways and Means resolutions since the House must be at liberty to consider the resolutions proposed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer as forming, together with existing taxation, a complete scheme of revenue to be debated as a whole; and must also be at liberty to consider expenditure in its relation to the burden of providing the necessary revenue. A general debate, which is on the broadest lines, is accordingly allowed, covering all these matters and comprising all the Ways and Means and any Money or procedure resolutions1 required to authorise the provisions of the resulting Finance Bill. The debate takes place upon the first resolution proposed—which has generally been the general resolution providing for the amendment of the fiscal law.2 It usually begins with a speech from the Leader of the Opposition, and during that speech and the speech by the spokesperson for the second largest opposition party interventions are not taken.3 The debate is generally held over four days, at the end of which the question is put on the first resolution, and then under Standing Order No 51(3) the questions are put forthwith upon all the resolutions upon which the bill is to be brought in.4 The consequences of this procedure are, on the one hand, to permit mature consideration of the Budget resolutions (which by their nature must be secret until the financial statement is made) before the House is required to pronounce upon them, but, on the other hand, to prevent individual consideration of the resolutions and to deny the opportunity of amending any of the resolutions save the first. If two bills are founded on the same series of resolutions (see para 36.30 ), the first resolution for the second bill does not have to be put forthwith under Standing Order No 51(3), and a special motion needs to be passed at the commencement of public business to make this obligatory.5


  1. 1. See para 36.39.
  2. 2. In 1929, the resolution for the repeal of the tea duty was used for this purpose, CJ (1928–29) 211; in the first Budget of 1974–75 the resolution for the capital transfer tax, ibid (1974–75) 60; in the first Budget of 1997–98 the resolution for the windfall tax, ibid (1997–98) 87; in the Budget of June 2010 the resolution for the rates of capital gains tax, ibid (2010–12) 46; and in the Budgets of November 2017 and October 2018 the resolution for income tax (charge), Votes and Proceedings, 22 November 2017 and 29 October 2018.
  3. 3. HC Deb (8 July 2015) 598, cc 321, 348; ibid (22 November 2017) 631, cc 1046, 1071.
  4. 4. For example, Votes and Proceedings, 28 November 2017.
  5. 5. CJ (1974–75) 65.