Senior Tory MP joins Labour in attacks on 'Short money' cut

Posted On: 
11th February 2016

A senior Conservative backbencher has joined Labour in blasting Government plans to cut funding for opposition parties.

Bernard Jenkin warned the Government the committee he chairs will probe the planned cut in so-called 'Short money' amid concerns the move is politically motivated.

George Osborne revealed in December the Government would cut the funding by 19% and freeze it over the remainder of the parliament, but it was announced today that the Government was consulting on that decision, raising the prospect of a compromise. 

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The cash is allocated to opposition parties according to seat and vote share and is meant to assist them in their work scrutinising the Government.

Mr Jenkin, who chairs the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs committee, argued the Government had handled the policy in a “clumsy manner" and the opposition felt "unconsulted”.

He asked whether there was "an agenda behind this change which is rather more political in its intent".

Mr Jenkin added: “Can I inform the House that my committee has already had correspondence from another select committee chair expressing concern about this? We are looking into this matter.”

During an Urgent Question, Labour MPs lined up to attack the proposed policy.

Newcastle MP Nick Brown said: “What the Government’s doing doesn’t amount to anything other than Bullingdon club bullying of Parliament, with the Government treating Parliament like a department of Government, and an unfavoured department at that."

He asked Cabinet Office minister John Penrose to explain what the Government had done to defend the interests of Parliament rather than its own political interests.

And Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman warned of a Tory revolt over the plans.

“Reasonable people who value a democracy and a healthy opposition in this place would not give it a majority,” he told the House.

But Ukip MP Douglas Carswell spoke out in defence of the policy.

“This is public money and the public will deeply resent this being spent on politicians to do more politics," he argued.

"Does he agree that the public will resent using public money to pay for special advisers who watch too much of the West Wing to sit in Portcullis house at public expense?” he asked.