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Size of the Executive

Volume 533: debated on Tuesday 11 October 2011

The Government have been clear that they recognise the principle that there is link between the size of the legislature and the Executive, so we have said that we will consider how to address the issue in the future.

Last year the Deputy Prime Minister said that he wanted to reduce the size of the Government to 73. Actually, the payroll vote has gone up to 140 in this House, which is 43% of the way to a majority. Has he not increased the size of the payroll vote so that he can get through this House many of his broken promises?

The issue of principle is whether there is a link between the size of the Executive and the size of the legislature, and I think that there is. Clearly there is. The size of the legislature will be reduced from 2015, so clearly there is a question for the next Parliament, and indeed the next Government, about what the size of the Executive—

The size of the legislature has not been reduced right now, so it is not something that we need to do right now. We have accepted the principle. It is now 2011; we have four years until 2015. We will reflect on this and we will act.

Will the Deputy Prime Minister agree to extend the link to the shadow Administration, and does he share the concern of Government Members about the growing number of those serving in the shadow Administration?

I have lost count of who is doing what in the shadow Administration, as my hon. Friend calls it, except for the right hon. and learned Member for Camberwell and Peckham (Ms Harman), who has an increasingly long list of responsibilities to her name. The serious point is the relationship between the legislature and the Executive of the day, and the point that I seek to make is that there is an absolute link in principle between the size of one and the other, and that is something that we will act on in the years ahead.