House of Commons Library

Short Money

Published Monday, December 19, 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 – funding to support opposition parties – was introduced in 1975.

The current scheme is administered under a Resolution of the House of 26 May 1999, as amended by a resolution of 23 March 2016.  New reporting requirements, setting out the information parties in receipt of Short Money have to provide in their accounts, were agreed on 7 July 2016.  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 consumer price index.

There is both a floor and a ceiling to the amount of Short Money to assist with its parliamentary business that a party with no more than five Members is entitled to.

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.

When the House revised the arrangements for Short Money in 2016 it also required the Members Estimate Committee to report on whether any changes ought to be made to the Short Money scheme “in the light of the proposed reduction in the number of Members of this House”. The Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act 2011 as amended has provided for a reduction in the number of Members from 650 to 600.  The Boundary Commissions are required to produce proposals to give this effect by 1 October 2018, with changes implemented at the following general election.  The MEC is required to make its report before the end of the current (2016-17) Session of Parliament.



Commons Briefing papers SN01663

Author: Richard Kelly

Topics: Parliament, Political parties

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