Finance Bills

  • Ivor Burton
  • Gavin Drewry


Finance bills are the principal legislative instruments of fiscal policy, a subject area which is of supreme importance both in its high political controversy and in the history of parliament in its struggles with the crown. The budget which precedes the main finance bill of each session is a red-letter day in the parliamentary calendar. Its substance reflects the struggle of government to impose its will upon economic events; and fiscal policy—though essentially incremental in its development—contains, or at least symbolises, some of the main areas of disagreement between political parties in relation, for example, to the distribution and redistribution of wealth. For these reasons alone finance bills merit a separate chapter in a work on public legislation.


Fiscal Policy Indirect Taxation Select Committee Standing Committee Finance Bill 
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  1. 2.
    Thomas Erskine May, A Treatise upon the Law, Privileges, Proceedings and Usage of Parliament ( London: Charles Knight, 1844 ) p. 234.Google Scholar
  2. 4.
    Gordon Reid, The Politics of Financial Control (London: Hutchinson, 1966) p. 134.Google Scholar
  3. The work he cites is John Hatsell, Precedents of Proceedings in the House of Commons 4 volumes (London, 1784) vol. III, p. 196.Google Scholar
  4. 11.
    John P. Mackintosh, ‘The House of Commons and Taxation’, Political Quarterly, 42 (1971) 75–86.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 21.
    Kenneth Bradshaw and David Pring, Parliament and Congress (London: Quartet Books, 1973) p. 345. Richard Crossman tells an inside version of the story in volumes two and three of his Diaries op. cit.Google Scholar
  6. 27.
    John P. Mackintosh, The British Cabinet, 3rd edition (London: Stevens, 1977) pp. 464–6;Google Scholar
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  8. 60.
    HC 276 of 1970–71 and HC 449 of 1971–72. For a review of this issue, and of others related to it, see Mackintosh, op. cit.; Douglas Millar, ‘Parliamentary Control of Taxation in Britain’, in D. Coombes et al., The Power of the Purse (London: Allen & Unwin, 1976) pp. 198–214;Google Scholar
  9. Ann Robinson, Parliament and Public Spending (London: Heinemann, 1978) ch. 2.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Ivor Burton and Gavin Drewry 1981

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ivor Burton
    • 1
  • Gavin Drewry
    • 1
  1. 1.Bedford CollegeUniversity of LondonUK

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