Read the Audit

Is this the biggest government ever?

Is this the biggest government ever?

In our latest full Audit of democracy in the UK, we highlighted our concern that the size of the so-called 'payroll vote’ in the House of Commons is diminishing the independence of parliament from the executive . Essentially, the payroll vote comprises MPs who are part of the government  and are bound by convention to vote with it in divisions, or resign.

In its broadest definition, the payroll vote includes government ministers and whips, as well as all MPs who are engaged as Parliamentary Private Secretaries (PPSs) to ministers.  While PPPs are not paid anything in addition to their salary as an MP, the clear expectation that they remain loyal to the government , particularly if they hope to have any chance of a ministerial career, justifies their inclusion as part of the 'payroll vote'.  

In our Audit we note not only that there has been a long-term increase in the size of the payroll vote, but also that the size of this block of MPs is also relatively high when placed in international comparison. 

Following the recent government reshuffle, we have updated our figures. On 11 October 2012, The Guardian published a story using our analysis, and highlighting widespread concern about the ongoing growth in the number of paid governmental roles. In addition, the key statistics about the growth of the payroll vote are available on The Guardian's datablog.

You can read further details about our updated analysis of the payroll vote and the issues it raises on the Democratic Audit blog.

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