|Parkinson, C. N., 1957. Parkinson's Law and Other Studies in Administration. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.|
PARLIAMENTARY APPROPRIATION. The appropriation by a parliament of a government's proposed budget, based on strict conformity to legislative processes through which executive proposals are examined and, if appropriate, amended before being granted legal authority; or, in a more restricted sense, the approval process for the internal budget of a parliament itself. The latter process varies considerably among parliamentary systems, displaying different degrees of legislative independence and financial autonomy. Generally, the greater the degree of financial autonomy, the greater the degree of independent parliamentary control over an executive's budget proposals. Thus the state of the former provides clues on the effectiveness of the latter.
Appropriation processes are typically reactive, involving parliamentary consideration of budget proposals or estimates initiated by an executive. Parliaments vary in their formal emphasis, but a common convention is to have the estimates detailed so that they are allocated to identifiable activities or programs, with separate "votes" or units of appropriation each attracting separate legislative endorsement. The specific articulation of program aims serves a traditional parliamentary purpose, even in the era of program budgeting: governments may spend public money only on those activities or programs duly authorized by parliament.
British parliamentary history displays the basic appropriation function that is adapted to different structures in different parliamentary systems. From its earliest meetings, the House of Commons was convened and constituted in response to the demands of executive governments, for whom periodic parliamentary consent was the necessary price of their continued legitimacy. At first the Crown, then later cabinet executives, accepted that their popular legitimacy required that access to public money rests on the consent and taxation authority of a popular body. Faced with requests for their consent, parliaments soon appreciated that their greatest power was the threat of refusal of "supply" to a needy executive. Armed with this ultimate power of refusal to open the public purse, parliaments became the basic authority over the supply of public expenditure to government.
Fundamental to the grievances listed in the Bill of Rights of 1689 is that the executive levied money "by pretence of prerogative . . . in other manner, than . . . was granted by Parliament." But there is a world of difference between a constitutional requirement for government appropriations by annual consent of Parliament and an institutional capacity to control the budget process. The model is one of informed consent rather than of initiative and control. Parliamentary systems have tended to follow the British lead in establishing a consolidated fund, a system of annual estimates with audited accounts, and control facilities of the kind represented by a parliamentary public accounts committee and an independent auditor-general reporting directly to Parliament. As reactive mechanisms, these facilities are only as good as the information provided by the initiating executive.
Executive governments have retained primary control over the policy directions of funds appropriated. Parliaments are presented with a bill of charges, and typically