Commons procedure in passing Money bill

37.30A ‘Money bill’ which has been passed by the House of Commons and sent up to the House of Lords at least one month before the end of the session, but is not passed by the House of Lords without amendment within one month after it is so sent up, is, unless the House of Commons direct to the contrary,1 to be presented for the Royal Assent2 and becomes an Act of Parliament on the Royal Assent being signified to it. A ‘Money bill’, when it is sent up to the House of Lords and when it is presented to Her Majesty, must be endorsed with the Speaker's certificate that it is such a bill. Before giving this certificate the Speaker is directed to consult, if practicable, those two members of the Panel of Chairs (see para 4.26 ) who are appointed for the purpose at the beginning of each session by the Committee of Selection.3

When the Speaker4 has certified a bill to be a ‘Money bill’ this is recorded in the Journal; and s 3 of the Parliament Act 1911 stipulates that such certificate is conclusive for all purposes and may not be questioned in a court of law.

No serious practical difficulty normally arises in deciding whether a particular bill is or is not a ‘Money bill’; and criticism has seldom been voiced of the Speaker's action in giving or withholding a certificate.5 A bill which contains any of the enumerated matters and nothing besides is indisputably a ‘Money bill’.6 If it contains any other matters, then, unless these are ‘subordinate matters incidental to’ any of the enumerated matters so contained in the bill, the bill is not a ‘Money bill’.7 Furthermore, even if the main object of a bill is to create a new charge on the Consolidated Fund or on money provided by Parliament, the bill will not be certified if it is apparent that the primary purpose of the new charge is not purely financial.8

The Speaker does not consider the question of certifying a bill until it has reached the form in which it will leave the House of Commons, and has declined to give an opinion on whether the acceptance of a proposed amendment would prevent a bill from being certified as a Money bill.9 Similarly, in committee the Chairman has declined to anticipate the Speaker's decision in this matter or to allow the effect of an amendment in this regard to be raised as a point of order.10

Footnotes

  1. In the case of a bill which by inadvertence has not been read the third time by the Lords within a month, as required by the Parliament Act 1911, s 1(1), the Commons have ordered that the provisions of the subsection shall not apply, CJ (1933–34) 272. The Commons have also ordered that the provisions of s 1(1) of the Act should not apply in the case of a bill to which the Lords could not readily agree within the period of one month because of a Parliamentary recess, ibid (1972–73) 90, ibid (1975–76) 542, HC Deb, (1997–98) 300, c 365. Such orders are generally made only after the Lords have passed the bill. But when the Lords passed a Money bill after the Commons had adjourned at the end of July, the bill received Royal Assent in the ordinary way in October without an order in the Commons to disapply s 1(1) of the Act (Rate Support Grants Bill 1985–86).
  2. This would take place on the next occasion of Royal Assent, the timing of which is a matter for the Government.
  3. For example HC Deb (1975–76) 915, c 1520.
  4. Bills have been endorsed as being ‘Money bills’ by the Deputy Speaker, CJ (1914) 453; ibid (1947–48) 68; ibid (1950–51) 146; ibid (2005–06) 525.
  5. For an exception to the general rule, see Savings Accounts and Health in Pregnancy Grant Bill, HL Deb (23 November 2010) 722, c 1008. An amendment to a business of the House motion to allow remaining Lords stages of that bill to be taken on the same day, as is normal for Money bills, was defeated on 29 November 2010. The Lords Constitution Committee subsequently reported in its Tenth Report of Session 2010–12, Money Bills and Commons Financial Privilege, HL 97.
  6. Since the start of the 2010 Parliament, the following bills other than Supply and Appropriation Bills and Finance Bills have been certified: Equitable Life (Payments) Bill 2010–12; Savings Accounts and Health in Pregnancy Grant Bill 2010–12; Loans to Ireland Bill 2010–12; Water Industry (Financial Assistance) Bill 2010–12; Infrastructure (Financial Assistance) Bill 2012–13; Small Charitable Donations Bill 2012–13; HGV Road User Levy Bill 2012–13; High Speed Rail (Preparation) Bill 2013–14; Childcare Payments Bill 2014–15; Taxation of Pensions Bill 2014–15; Stamp Duty Land Tax Bill 2014–15; Corporation Tax (Northern Ireland) Bill 2014–15; Small Charitable Donations and Childcare Payments Bill 2016–17; Savings (Government Contributions) Bill 2016–17; Commonwealth Development Corporation Bill 2016–17; Northern Ireland Budget Bill 2017–19; Northern Ireland Budget (Appropriations and Adjustments) Bill 2017–19; Northern Ireland Budget (No. 2) Bill 2017–19.
  7. The Tax Credits Bill 2001–02, which established two new tax credits but also made changes to the administration of child benefit and guardian's allowance, was not certified.
  8. See eg Family Allowances Bill 1944–45; Reinsurance (Acts of Terrorism) Bill 1992–93.
  9. HC Deb (1912–13) 41, c 2667. See also ibid (1911) 31, c 1209; ibid (1975–76) 915, c 1290.
  10. HC Deb (1914–16) 72, c 1704.