Labour may end pairing agreement in protest at Tory plans to cut Short money


Labour is considering withdrawing its co-operation with the Conservatives over parliamentary business in protest at Government plans to cut some of its funding.

Officials are looking at ditching long-standing arrangements which ease processes in the House of Commons following Chancellor George Osborne's decision to cut state grants to opposition parties.

Discussions have been held about obstructing the "the usual channels" that operate between the parties to ensure the smooth operation of parliament, according to the Guardian.

That could lead to an end of the pairing agreement which allows MPs to miss votes due to urgent business or illness by being matched up with someone from the opposite party who abstains so they cancel each other out.

Such a move could put significant pressure on the Government, which has a working majority of 16, by effectively forcing ministers to attend every vote.

Severing the behind-the-scenes dealings is reportedly considered to be a last resort by Labour.

The option is being mooted after plans were set out in the detail of the Chancellor's Autumn Statement which could see Labour lose out on a significant amount of funding from the public purse known as Short money.

The system was set up to allow opposition parties to hold ministers, who can draw on the resources of the Civil Service, to account.

Mr Osborne wants to save millions of pounds by cutting the grants by 19% and then freezing them until 2020.

A No 10 source told the newspaper: "Cutting the huge deficit we inherited from Labour is crucial in building a strong and secure British economy.

"Government departments, local councils and other parts of the public sector have had to make savings to help reduce Britain's deficit.

"We believe it is right to ask political parties to help tackle the deficit too by making savings in Short money."