The Conservative backbencher seems interested in empowering MPs for the purposes of properly scrutinizing how the government spends money.
Mr. Wallace, the Conservative MP who is also vice-chair of the Commons Committee on Government Operations, said he’s personally interested in updating the rules to give MPs a bigger role. As it stands now, he said, the stakes are too high for committees that vote to alter a department’s estimates – or spending – plans.
“A change in an estimate could force an election, so it’s not be taken lightly,” he said. “If you’re going to give us the right to do it, we should have the responsibility to do it – within reason. It just doesn’t exist right now… I think our government, based on my discussions with my colleagues, is open to a discussion on what we can do to improve the system to make Members of Parliament more engaged in the financial operation of government.”
This is not the first time Mr. Wallace has made noises in this regard.
The general failure of Parliament to properly hold the government to account on spending has been well-noted in recent years (see here, here or here). It was, for that matter, a dispute over the government’s willingness to be accountable—in the form of providing information to the House about the costs of legislation—that led to last year’s finding of contempt and vote on non-confidence (see here, here and here).