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Scotland Act 1998

SECTION 97: Assistance for opposition parties.
Purpose and Effect

This section confers a power on Her Majesty, by Order in Council, to make provision for the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body to make payments, out of the Scottish Consolidated Fund, to any opposition registered political party represented in the Scottish Parliament to assist their MSPs in performing their parliamentary duties.

The power is intended to make provision similar to that made in the House of Commons for the payment of “Short Money”.  Short money is generally applied to the opposition parties to obtain research and support facilities for Opposition Front Bench spokesmen, assistance in the Opposition Whips Office and other staff for the Leader of the Opposition.  It is intended to counterbalance the facilities available to the Government through the Civil Service.

The power conferred by this section was exercised in making the Scottish Parliament (Assistance for Registered Political Parties) Order 1999 (S.I. 1999/1745).

Paragraph 6 of Part 1 of Schedule 5 reserves the registration and funding of political parties. However, that paragraph was modified by the Scotland Act 1998 (Modifications of Schedules 4 and 5) Order 1999 (S.I. 1999/1749) so that “making payments to any political party for the purpose of assisting members of the Parliament who are connected with the party to perform their Parliamentary duties” is excepted from the reservation.  That order also provided that section 97 is not to be among the provisions of the Scotland Act which is protected by paragraph 4 of Schedule 4 from modification by the Scottish Parliament.

Parliamentary Consideration
StageDateColumn
LR2-Nov-9872
Details of Provisions

Subsection (1) provides that Her Majesty may by Order in Council provide for the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body to make payments to registered political parties to assist their MSPs in performing their parliamentary duties.  These payments would be made out of the Scottish Consolidated Fund.

Subsections (2) and (3)  restrict the power of the SPCB to make payments in pursuance of an order under subsection (1).  Under subsection (2) payment is restricted to those parties who do not have one or more of its members as a member of the Scottish Executive or junior Scottish Ministers.  However subsection (3) provides that the Order in Council under subsection (1) may provide for the fact that an MSP is a member of the Scottish Executive or a junior Scottish Minister to be disregarded in any circumstances which may be specified in the Order.

Subsection (4) provides the Order may determine the circumstances in which a member of the Parliament and a party are regarded as connected for the purposes of this section.  This is intended to deal with situations such as where a member ceases to be associated with a  party but remains a member of the Parliament.

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