The changes passed at the end of November mainly concern the right to public access and restrictions on how much equity the party groups may accumulate.
The Storting allocates an annual grant to the parliamentary party groups. The purpose of this grant is to enable the party groups to conduct their business so that the MPs can carry out the duties they have been elected to perform.
This grant must be spent in accordance with the guidelines, and the party groups must submit their annual accounts and audit report to the Storting’s Presidium. The primary use of the annual grant is to cover the wages of the parliamentary group staff.
Every year, the annual accounting report and audit report are made public when they are presented to the Storting’s Presidium. The changes made in November will give those interested greater access to the details in the accounts.
All interested parties now have the right to demand access to the parliamentary party groups’ accounting documents. There are, however, certain restrictions to public access.
- Personally-sensitive and privacy-related information will be exempt from public access, as will information that is subject to a statutory duty of confidentiality.
- Information that would be of interest to competitors, including political and strategic dispositions, may be exempt from public access.
- Security-sensitive information and information relating to employment and personnel matters may also be exempt from public access.
The parliamentary party group may also make exemptions from public access to other information if there are significant grounds for upholding confidentiality in these matters.
The right of public access to information at a document level applies to balanced and auditor-approved accounts.
The above changes will come into force on 1st January 2022.
The parliamentary party groups are entitled to accumulate equity from the public grants. However, as of 1st July in the year after a parliamentary election, the balance will not be able to exceed one and a half times the annual grant, calculated on the basis of the previous year’s grant.
This change will enter into force on 1st July 2026.
Among the other changes that have been adopted are the following:
- The additional grant allocated to the party group which includes the President of the Storting has been removed.
- A standard for allocating office space in the Storting buildings to the party groups has been introduced.
- Certain other clarifications to the guidelines have been added to make them less ambiguous. These are not intended to change current practice.
All the proposed changes put forward by the Presidium were adopted.
The new guidelines will come into effect on 1st October 2021, except for the changes that relate to public access and equity. When the new guidelines enter into force, the existing guidelines on the use of grants for party groups and independent MPs of 20th June 2013 will be revoked.