Provisions in private bills, or petitions for additional provision, imposing charges
45.4As has already been explained (see para 28.14 ), any clauses and provisions incidentally contained in a public bill which create a charge on the Consolidated Fund or on the National Loans Fund or on the public revenues, or which impose a tax on the people, have to be sanctioned by a resolution of the House, the recommendation of the Crown being signified. Except in the case of a bill affecting only grants to local authorities, such a resolution is necessary for any provision of this kind that is contained in the bill or proposed to be inserted in it before the committee on the bill1 can consider the matter. That is the case whether the provision is to be inserted by amendment2 or upon a petition for additional provision.
The procedure for private bills follows that for financial resolutions relating to public bills, except that proceedings are taken at the time of private business.3
A bill suspended during its passage through the Commons may not rely on a financial resolution passed in the previous session.4
The Local Government Finance Acts 1988 and 1992 made fundamental alterations in the method of financing exchequer grants to local authorities, as a consequence of which new expenditure by a local authority might lead to increases in the grants which it receives (see para 35.8 ). To avoid the necessity for compliance with the financial procedure of the House in each individual case, two standing orders (Standing Order No 53 (Public) and Standing Order 156A (Private)), cover bills authorising expenditure by a local authority.5 By virtue of Standing Order 156A, it is not necessary for a private bill to comply with the standing orders and practice of the House relating to charges upon the public revenue by reason only that the bill contains provisions which would or might operate to increase the sums payable by way of exchequer grant.6
Bills containing provisions referred to in Standing Order 156A are exempt from the provisions of Standing Order 168 (charges affecting public revenue to be printed in italics), and Standing Order 169 (attachment of financial memoranda to certain bills) (see para 45.2 ), and enjoy the relaxation of the Commons' privileges contained in Standing Order 191 (tolls and charges not in the nature of a tax) (see below).
The House of Commons will not allow the Lords to be concerned in the levy of any charge upon the people. Under Standing Order 191, however, the Commons do not insist on their privileges in regard to clauses in a private bill referring to tolls and charges for services performed (not being in the nature of a tax), and to sums payable by way of exchequer grant to local authorities in England and Wales or in Scotland.
- 1. National Loan Fund Life Assurance Society Bill (stamp duty on memorials), CJ (1854–55) 217, 221, 225, 229; Law Life Assurance Society Bill (stamp duty on memorials), ibid (1863) 312, 316, 327, 330; Land Securities Company Bill (stamp duty on mortgage debentures), ibid (1864) 116, 122, 126, 127.
- 2. City of Westminster Bill (receipts from fixed penalties payable into Consolidated Fund), CJ (1986–87), 365, HC Deb (1986–87) 115, cc 935–36, 940.
- 3. See eg CJ (1967–68) 132; ibid (1987–88) 517.
- 4. Covent Garden Market Bill 1965–66, CJ (1964–65) 255; ibid (1965–66) 14; Yorkshire Water Authority Bill 1985–86, CJ (1984–85) 594; ibid (1985–86) 20.
- 5. See HC Deb (1948–49) 457, cc 1275–88; CJ (1948–49) 18, 19. The standing orders have been amended from time to time to take account of changes in the law, see eg ibid (1980–81) 278–79; ibid (1989–90) 636.
- 6. For the effect of these orders upon Scottish provisional order confirmation bills, see Erskine May (22nd edn, 1997), p 952.