Constitution and financing of party machinery

4.8Inside the House of Commons each party organisation is presided over by Members of the House and staffed by subordinate officials who are not Members. The officers, or Whips, of the party in office consist of the Chief Whip, who holds the official position of Parliamentary or Patronage Secretary to the Treasury, three officers of the Household and five Lords of the Treasury, with the addition of up to seven Members who act as Assistant Whips; all these Whips receive salaries.1 In addition, the party in office may appoint unpaid Whips in order not to exceed the statutory limit on the number of salaried ministerial posts. All Government Whips rank as Ministers of the Crown. The Treasurer of Her Majesty's Household is usually appointed Deputy Chief Whip.

The Government Whips and the Whips of the Official Opposition and of the third largest party have offices as near the Chamber as may be. During the life of the coalition Government formed in May 2010, several Whips serving the second party of Government were appointed as party Whips only and did not receive an official salary or sit on the Treasury bench.

Opposition parties are given financial assistance (known as ‘Short Money’) from public funds in respect of costs incurred exclusively on the party's parliamentary business. Funding of non-travel costs is an entitlement and normally paid in equal monthly instalments. Claims are required for travel expenses. Each party receiving financial assistance is required to provide the Accounting Officer with an annual audit report provided by an independent professional auditor certifying that the funding has been spent on the purposes for which it was provided. Under resolutions of the House passed in March and July 2016, the Official Opposition must identify everyone who received at least 50% of their salary from Short Money at any point during the year; the smaller parties must declare how many received such a salary.2

From November 2005, financial assistance was extended to opposition parties represented by Members who had chosen not to take their seats in respect of costs incurred exclusively in relation to the party's representative business.3 The amounts payable are calculated on the same basis as Short Money. Financial assistance is currently paid out of the House of Commons: Members Estimate following a resolution of the House.4

Footnotes

  1. 1. Ministerial and other Salaries Act 1975 (c 27), s 1(1)(a) and sch 1.
  2. 2. For the text of the resolutions, see: HC Deb (23 March 2016) 607, cc 1714–16 and HC Deb (7 July 2016) 612, cc 1146–47.
  3. 3. CJ (2005–06) 424. See also para 8.28.
  4. 4. The scale of payments for the financial year 2018–19 was £17,673.65 for every seat won by each party at the preceding general election, plus £35.30 for every 200 votes then cast for it. Under the resolution of the House passed in March 2016, payments were indexed to the Consumer Prices Index, rather than the Retail Prices Index. To qualify for such assistance a party is required either to have gained two or more seats at the general election or, if only one seat has been won, to have received at least 150,000 votes, CJ (1998–99) 350–52. Under the March 2016 resolution, there is both a floor and a ceiling to the amount of Short Money to assist with its parliamentary business to which a party with no more than five Members is entitled. The floor is set at 50% of the relevant IPSA staffing budget for non-London area MPs. The ceiling is set at 150% of the same budget. In addition, money is allocated to help opposition parties with travel costs and for the office of the Leader of the Opposition. For the terms of the original Resolution, see ibid (1974–75) 310; for annual publication of updated Resolutions see eg Members Estimate Committee, First Report of Session 2017–19, Consolidated list of provisions of the Resolutions of the House relating to expenditure charged to the Estimate for House of Commons: Members as at 16 July, HC 1442.