Parliamentary financial scrutiny in hard times

Gillian Rollason, December 2011. Parliamentary scrutiny of public spending is essential for holding governments to account for money spent. Case studies conducted in Australia, Canada, Ireland and the UK show that it is not taken seriously enough. The outdated ‘estimates supply votes’ process used in Westminster-style systems is a key barrier to effective parliamentary scrutiny of government finances. Governments may use the financial crisis to reduce scrutiny rather than enhance it. Parliamentarians, even those on select committees, are not trained for such scrutiny and their powers of intervention are limited or non-existent.