House of Commons Library

Short Money

Published Tuesday, March 22, 2016

This House of Commons Library briefing paper provides details of the current levels of 'Short money' allocated to opposition parties for parliamentary duties; a brief history of the scheme; and notes recent proposals to reduce Short Money allocations. Figures for the corresponding scheme in the House of Lords (Cranborne money) are provided. The note also provides details of allocations made under the representative money scheme.

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Short Money – that is funding to support opposition parties – was introduced in 1975.

The current scheme is administered under a Resolution of the House of 26 May 1999. Short Money is made available to all opposition parties in the House of Commons that secured either two seats or one seat and more than 150,000 votes at the previous General Election. Short Money is not available to parties whose Members have not sworn the oath. The scheme has three components:

  • Funding to assist an opposition party in carrying out its Parliamentary business
    • The amount available is determined by the number of seats and votes won by a party at the previous general election.
  • Funding for the opposition parties’ travel and associated expenses
    • The amount available is apportioned between qualifying parties in the same proportion as general funding
  • Funding for the running costs of the Leader of the Opposition’s office
    • A fixed annual budget is available

All the elements are uprated annually in line in with the retail price index.

Financial support (Cranborne Money) is also provided to the two largest opposition parties and the Crossbench peers in the House of Lords.

A scheme to provide representative money to parties who have not taken their seats in the House of Commons was introduced in November 2005.

Spending Review and Autumn Statement 2015 – proposals to reduce Short Money allocations

The Spending Review and Autumn Statement 2015, published on 25 November 2015, proposed reducing Short Money allocations by 19% and then freezing them for the remainder of the Parliament.

The proposals did not mention either Cranborne Money or Representative Money.

At Business Questions on 26 November 2015, the proposals were questions by Chris Bryant, the Shadow Leader of the Opposition, and Jeffrey Donaldson. In response, Chris Grayling, the Leader of the House, told the House that discussions would take place with all the parties affected by the change “over the coming days”.

On 18 February 2016, the Government issued a consultation paper, Short money allocations: Request for views, with a deadline for written responses of 7 March 2016. 

A number of Members commented on the proposals when Urgent Questions on the proposals and on the consultation, were answered on 11 and 23 February 2016, respectively.

On 21 March 2016, a motion was tabled to reduce the Short Money entitlements of opposition parties; to provide that future increases be linked to the Consumer Prices Index, rather than the Retail Prices Index; to introduce floors and ceilings on the amounts of Short Money that could be claimed by parties with up to five Members of Parliament; and to require political parties in receipt of Short Money to provide further details of how that money is spent.  The Leader of the House also issued a written statement, which outlined the effect of the motion.

Commons Briefing papers SN01663

Author: Richard Kelly

Topics: Parliament, Political parties

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