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§ 241. “Appropriating Revenue or Moneys.”

An appropriation of revenue or moneys is the setting apart, assigning, or applying to a particular use or to a particular person a certain sum of money. It is an application of money already raised or an authority to spend money already available. Public revenue is generally paid into a consolidated fund. Into this fund flows every stream of the revenue, the proceeds of taxation, fees, penalties, and other sums of money received by the treasury on behalf of the Crown. From this fund proceed the supplies necessary for carrying on the various branches of the public service. (May's Parl. Prac. 10th ed. 558.) In addition to the consolidated fund there may be large sums of money raised on loan, called “loan money.” Of this a separate account is kept as not coming under the heading of revenue. In this section, however, the words “revenue or money” are wide enough to cover loan money as well as revenue. This revenue or money can only be issued by virtue of a legal appropriation, that is by an Act of Parliament (sec. 83). The portion of the section now under review determines in which branch of the Federal Parliament proposed laws appropriating such revenue or money may be introduced.

“Statutory provision must be made by Parliament, during each financial year, to ensure that all the money therein raised for the service of the Crown be applied to a distinct use, either wholly or partly, within the current financial year; as the proceeds of taxation should not be reserved for accumulation, pending the decision of Parliament, or otherwise left without specific appropriation.” (May's Parl. Prac. 10th ed. p. 557.)




  ― 666 ―

The present form of the nominative part of the section should be carefully scanned and studied. As submitted to the Convention by the Constitutional Committee, the section commenced “proposed laws having for their main object the appropriation of any part of the public money or revenue,” &c. An attempt by the representatives of the larger colonies to strike out those words and insert “proposed laws appropriating,” was defeated by 26 votes to 24. (Conv. Deb., Adel., p. 479.) At the Sydney sitting of the Convention the Legislative Council and Legislative Assembly of New South Wales proposed to omit the words “having for their main object,” with a view to insert “for.” The Legislative Assembly of Victoria proposed to omit the words, “having for their main object the appropriation of,” with a view to insert the word “appropriating,” and the Legislative Assembly of Tasmania proposed to omit the word “main.” Mr. G. H. Reid proposed an amendment for the omission of the words “having for their main object,” with a view to the insertion of the word “appropriating.” This was carried, on the understanding that the following addendum, recommended by the Legislative Assembly of Tasmania, should be added to the section: “But a proposed law which provides for the imposition and appropriation of fines or other pecuniary penalties, or for the demand and payment and appropriation of fees for licenses, or for services, and does not otherwise impose any tax or appropriate any part of the public revenue, may originate either in the House of Representatives or in the Senate.” The section referring to the origination of Money Bills, as it now stands, omitting the word “for,” which appears in the Constitutions of the United States and of Canada, gives the House of Representatives a larger grant of exclusive originating power than that possessed by the American House of Representatives or by the Canadian House of Commons. At the same time, several important and useful exceptions to the rigid rule of exclusive financial origination are clearly expressed in the latter part of the paragraph.

EXTENT OF APPROPRIATING POWER.—The power of the Federal Parliament to appropriate and authorize the expenditure of revenue or money, is not, by this section, restricted to any particular or general purpose. No doubt the appropriating and spending power is intended to be confined to the purposes in respect of which the Parliament can make laws. Such a limitation, however, is not expressed; if it exists at all it is implied. If such be the case could the High Court restrain the appropriation and expenditure of Federal money for a purpose not within the powers of the Parliament? Some light may be thrown on the point by the cases of United States v. Realty Co., and United States v. Gay (163 U.S. 427). In these cases it was held, per Peckham, J., that it was within the constitutional power of Congress to determine whether claims upon the public treasury are founded upon moral and honourable obligations, and upon principles of right and justice; and that having decided such questions in the affirmative, and having appropriated public money for the payment of such claims, its decisions can rarely, if ever, be the subject of review by the judicial branch of the Government.

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