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Parliamentary Glossary






  Parliamentary Glossary  

Term   Definition  
  Back Bencher   The term applies to a Member who is not a Minister, Minister of State or Parliamentary Secretary. It was originally a practice in the UK House of Commons where such Members usually occupy a seat in the back rows of the Chamber. Back benchers are also referred to as private Members. (See also Front Bench)  
  Bar of the House   It is a barrier in the Chamber which only Members are allowed to pass through during the sittings of the House and beyond which they are not allowed to speak. Traditionally, Members may be reprimanded by the Speaker at the Bar or at their places, and a member of the public may be reprimanded or summoned to give evidence at the Bar.  
  Bells   Electronic bells are rung to signal the commencement of a sitting to call Members into the Chamber. During a sitting, the bells are rung to call Members for a vote in a division or to form a quorum. (See also Division and Quorum)  
  Bill   It is a draft law. Bills introduced by the Government are known as Government Bills. Those introduced by back benchers are known as private Member’s Bills. At least two clear days’ notice must be given for the introduction of a Government Bill and four clear days for a private Member’s Bill. (See also Clear Days) Bills can be further categorised as Public Bills, Private Bills or Hybrid Bills. A Bill becomes an Act of Parliament after it has been passed by Parliament and received the President’s assent. (See also Hybrid Bill, Passage of a Bill, President’s Assent, Private Bill, Public Bill and Urgent Bill) S.Os. 64 - 66.  
  Blue Book   A popular name for official reports, statistical, Government or Parliamentary publications which are presented with a blue cover, such as reports of the Select Committees of Parliament. (See also Green Paper, White Paper and Parliamentary Paper)  
  Budget   The Budget is the Government’s proposal placed before Parliament every year showing what sums of money the Government expects to receive and how it intends to raise and spend the money. The Budget is usually considered in February and March each year.

The Budget process in Parliament begins with the annual Budget Statement presented by the Minister for Finance outlining the Government’s financial policy for the coming financial year and the fiscal measures to be implemented. (See Budget Statement)

Following this, the House, sitting in Committee (See Committee of Supply), debates the estimates of expenditure as contained in the Budget Book (See Budget Book) and decides whether to approve the allocation of funds for the public services for the next financial year. This debate usually lasts for seven days or more.

Following the debate on the estimates of expenditure is the consideration of the Supply Bill (See Supply Bill) which authorises withdrawals of the funds approved by Parliament from the Consolidated and Development Funds. S.Os. 86 - 90.

  Budget Book   Under the Constitution, the Minister for Finance is required, before the end of each financial year, to prepare the annual estimates of revenue and expenditure of the Government to be met from the Consolidated and Development Funds for the public services for the next financial year. The document containing the estimates is known as the Budget Book.  
  Budget Statement   The annual Budget Statement is delivered by the Minister for Finance to announce the Government’s financial policy for the coming financial year and to give details of the fiscal measures to be implemented. The Statement marks the beginning of the Budget debates. After a break of not less than seven clear days after the Statement, the House spends two days to debate and then vote on a motion that Parliament approves the financial policy of the Government as contained in the Budget Statement. (See also Budget) S.O. 86.  
  Business of Supply   The business of Supply covers the debates on the main, development and supplementary estimates of expenditure, Supply and Supplementary Supply Bills, votes on account, and any statements of excess and the consideration of reports from the Public Accounts Committee and the Estimates Committee. (See also Committee of Supply and Supply Bill) S.Os. 88 - 95 and Arts 142 - 148 of the CRS.  
  By-Election   (See Parliamentary Elections)

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