This House of Commons Briefing Paper provides information on ministerial residences including their allocation, financial arrangements and hospitality rules as well as historical notes on each residence.

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What are ministerial residences?

Ministerial or official residences are properties assigned to ministers by the Prime Minister either on the grounds of security or to allow them to better perform their official duties, including official hospitality. They include the living accommodation at numbers 10 and 11 Downing Street (allocated to the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer); the Foreign Secretary’s residence in Carlton Gardens; and flats in Admiralty House. Accommodation at Hillsborough Castle and Stormont may be used by Northern Ireland Office ministers when on duty there.

Three stately homes are available for ministerial use in accordance with the wishes of their former owners. They are not owned by the Government but are administered by trustees. Chequers in Buckinghamshire has been used by successive Prime Ministers. Chevening in Kent is traditionally allocated to Foreign Secretaries although its use is now divided between the present Foreign Secretary, the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union and the Secretary of State for International Trade. Dorneywood in Buckinghamshire is by convention placed at the disposal of the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Rules relating to ministerial residences

The 2015 Ministerial Code sets out rules and guidance on the use of official residences. Ministers who occupy residences are unable to claim accommodation expenses from the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA). They must also ensure they meet all personal tax liabilities, including council tax, if the residence is deemed to be their main residence.

Government property is not generally allowed to be used for party political purposes. However, the Ministerial Code makes an exception for official residences. The code states that if a minister hosts Party or political events in these residences it should be at their own or Party expense with no cost falling to the public purse.

  • Commons Research Briefing SN03367
  • Authors: Keith Parry, Michael Everett
  • Topics: Government

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