What is the ‘payroll vote’?

In response to a comment on my previous post I thought it would be a good idea if I did a brief post explaining a term that is often mentioned in news bulletins about proceedings in parliament that term is ‘the payroll vote’.

This term is frequently used to describe the votes of those members of the Government who receive an extra salary for the Ministerial duties they carry out. Somewhat confusingly the term also includes Parliamentary Private Secretaries who do not receive an extra salary.The principle of collective responsibility requires all members of the Government (ie: the Ministers) to vote the same way and support the Government’s proposals. This is the way all Governments have operated over the years. The number of Ministers is limited by the House of Commons Disqualification Act 1975 to 95.

The Public Administration Select Committee have recently prepared a detailed report which covered this area of Government which can be found here

Published by David Nuttall

Business and Political Consultant

5 thoughts on “What is the ‘payroll vote’?

  1. In reply to the payroll vote i urge Ewan to read my post, if you haven’t already, because it gives the reason for the ridiculous increase in the numbers. Mr Nuttall partly answers your question Ewan but fails,again, to answer mine even though i posted 2 hours and 20 minutes before he answered your post. If you read my post re the payroll vote on the post by Mr Nuttall ‘Time we all had a say’ you will note i tackled our MP on these numbers because some months ago i said the numbers had gone up to over 100 which he said were incorrect. As you can see Ewan the number is 143, this number was given out in the house and was not challenged in the house or by our MP on here. The number of ministers and pps is very important because if a vote is needed on a particular motion or bill which is not very popular on the tory backbenches it guarantees the government a false majority because they are not allowed to vote against. I await with interest your reply Mr Nuttall, that is if your have the decency to reply and at the same time appologise for disputing my figures because all figures i put on your blog are public knowledge and can be verified by Hansard. I am at present watching the goings on in the house and i am appalled at the arrogance of the tories and the lies they pedal on a debate on the economy, a debate which our MP is conspicous by his absence at 18-46 pm, so much for his caring for his voters when he can’t be bothered to attend and contibute, this on a day when unemployment went up to 2.57 million, the highest number since 1994, again under a tory regime but according to the tories ‘is a price worth paying’,tell that to the unemployed.

    1. Hi,

      I do not think there has been a large increase in the size of teh payroll vote under this Government in any event there are occasions when PPS’s or Ministers resign from the Government if they feel strongly enough on an issue and indeed I seem to recall a PPS resigned from the GOvernment in the run up to the vote on tuition fees. Further this is not something new to this Government all Governments have operated on the basis of collective responsibility.

      By the way, I had a Committee meeting I had to attend during the afternoon and then another appointment outside the House. I did return to the end of the debate and stood in the Chamber.

      I am very concerened about the level of unemployment and I believe the answer is to put in place the right conditions to enable the private sector to grow and create jobs. Obviously we must agree to differ if you feel the best plan is for the Government is to borrow even more money to employ people. I do not think that is a sustainable, long term solution to the problem of unemployment.


  2. Well well it seems i have struck a nerve at last and moved you to post on the payroll vote, something which i am sure you had no intention of doing. Let me start by asking a few simple questions. 1) Has the number of people, whether paid or not, who have to vote with the government gone up since the tories took office. 2) Were my original figures correct. 3) What is the figure now. For the benefit of people who do not take an avid interest in the workings of the house of commons and the house of lords am i right in saying that by creating these ‘none jobs’ it is guaranteed to get legislation through and if i am wrong, what is the point of them. You state it is the ministers who HAVE to vote with the government but the truth is so do the pps that is why the PM has appointed so many so he can get his own way in the house, so much for cutting the cost of politics. I would urge people to take more interest in the workings of this discredited government and not only watch the goings on by this useless bunch but to record the progammes for future reference, they would be supprised and disgusted by the way they twist and turn and try to wriggle out of answering a question, a familiar occurence on here.

  3. The number of ministers is limited to 95. Does this include those from the lords and how many PPSs are there?

    Your post does not make very clear the significance of the payroll vote. With such a large number of MPs bound to the executive and another sizable group of ambitious MPs hoping to get on the slippery slope to high office, oversight of the executive by back bench MPs is severely weakened. When the number of MPs is reduced to 600, that oversight will be weakened still further.

    1. Hi Ewan,

      The House of Commons DisquaIification Act which restricts the number of Ministers to 95 only applies to the House of Commons. All Departments have Ministers who answer for the Department in the House of Lords. I should add I voted in favour of reducing the size of the Executive in line with the size of the House of Commons.

      Best wishes,

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