The System of Financial Administration of Great Britain

The System of Financial Administration of Great Britain

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The System of Financial Administration of Great Britain

The System of Financial Administration of Great Britain

Read FREE!

Excerpt

Few subjects relating to our government have attracted more attention in this country within the last few years than financial administration; few need to be more carefully overhauled; and there is no system better worth our study for this purpose than that of England. To attempt to engraft any foreign institution in a new land by direct imitation is usually disappointing, and sometimes mischievous; but to study it with a view to getting suggestions for improvement of one's own methods is wholly wise. We have every reason to be grateful, therefore, to the authors of this small book for their description of the British Financial Administration in terms so clear as to be easily understood by anyone without technical knowledge, and with a singularly well chosen proportion between the different parts of the subject.

After discussing the general principles that must underlie sound public finance everywhere, the writers follow the course of financial action in England from the preparation of the estimates in the different departments, through their consolidation into the measure presented to Parliament, the procedure of the House of Commons thereon, the subsequent orders drawn on the Bank of England, the expenditure of the money, and the accounting therefor, showing the significance of each step in the process and its bearing upon what goes before and what follows.

The casual reader may be surprised at the small amount of space devoted to the discussion of the appropriations in Parliament, but this is right, because, in fact, those debates relate to the political and not the financial aspects of the matter. One can say of the relation of the House of Commons to the financial administration what Bagehot said about the relation of good ministers to departments, that it is not their business to manage the finances, but to see that they are properly managed. The unity of the financial management, that which makes it rational, depends upon the fact that the authority and responsibility for appropriation and expenditure is lodged in one hand, that of the ministry in power. For we must remember that, although the imposition of taxes and the raising of revenue thereby is a legislative matter, the expenditure of the money . . .

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