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Parliamentary Votes (Allocation Of Expenditure)

Volume 81: debated on Monday 17 June 1985

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asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer with reference to the answer to the hon. Member for Warley East, on 20 May, Official Report, columns 340–341, whether, when Parliament approves the total provision of Votes under the relevant Appropriation Acts, the Treasury may credit the equivalent sums of unused and surrendered balances to other subheads, without first obtaining Parliamentary approval by means of a revote or otherwise, in those cases where the recipient subhead is such as to involve direct public expenditure while the unused balances thus disposed of were originally voted under a subhead restricted to transactions confined by statute within the central Government: and what is his policy towards exceptional cases of this nature.

Yes. The Government have discretion to vary the allocation of the total provision approved by Parliament between any subheads within the same vote. This discretion applies equally to transfers from subheads covering transactions within central Government to other subheads, although in exercising it the Government take into account the fact that any transfer between provision classified as non-public expenditure and provision classified as public expenditure could affect net public expenditure. However, in the case to which the hon. Member alludes expenditure on both subheads is classified as public.The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster announced on 24 April that the Government would be looking at the Vote arrangements governing the acceptance of assets in lieu of tax. That review is in progress.