Launch of pamphlet News release..

4.12.2000

WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME MPs REJECTED A GOVERNMENT SPENDING REQUEST?

It is 81 years since MPs last turned down a request for cash from Ministers. The year was 1919, and the then Lord Chancellor was denied funding for a second bathroom. Would the present Lord Chancellor have been able to spend so much on new wallpaper if MPs today had stronger powers to question budget plans?

In a new pamphlet, ‘Making MPs Work for our Money, published this week by the independent think-tank, the Centre for Reform, one of Britain’s youngest MPs argues that to regain public respect, MPs must have a much stronger role in questioning government tax and spending plans.

Speaking today, Edward Davey, MP for Kingston and Surbiton and a member of the Treasury Select Committee, said:


"Respect for MPs is at rock bottom. If MPs are to win back the public’s respect, they must be seen to be doing a better job in holding the government to account. MPs must work harder for the taxpayer’s money. MPs must start making a proper job of budget scrutiny."


Making MPs Work for our Money highlights the weaknesses of the current Budget process in Britain, and examines how Parliaments in other countries scrutinise government budget plans. Drawing on the experience of the USA, Sweden and New Zealand, Edward Davey proposes a wide range of practical reforms to improve analysis of tax proposals, allow MPs to amend government budgets, and increase scrutiny of public spending.

Proposed reforms include:

  • Creating a new ‘Office of the Taxpayer’ (OfTax) to help MPs analyse government tax and spending proposals more effectively.
  • Giving MPs new powers to amend the Budget before cash is spent.
  • Strengthening the powers of the Public Accounts Committee and National Audit Office to investigate public spending after cash is spent.

"House of Commons’ reform is rising fast up the political agenda", Edward Davey said.

"Any meaningful reform must revive Parliament’s historic function of challenging government demands for tax and spending. The result will be better government, a simpler and more efficient tax system and stronger accountability for public spending".

Notes

To obtain a copy of ‘Making MPs Work for our Money: Reforming Parliament’s role in Budget Scrutiny’ please phone the Centre for Reform – 0207 222 5121

Today, the Hansard Society Commission on the Scrutiny Role of Parliament is also publishing a report on this subject: "Parliament and the Public Purse: Improving Financial Scrutiny," by Alex Brazier. Website address: www.hansard-society.org.uk

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