FINANCE AND SERVICES
Report by Rt Hon
Paul Channon, Chairman of the Committee
1. The work of the Finance
and Services Committee needs to be seen against the background
of the reform of House of Commons administration which followed
the Ibbs report of 1990.
2. Broadly, those reforms
encouraged the House's increasing independence in organising and
regulating its own administrative and financial affairs, already
suggested in the House of Commons Administration Act of 1978.
In the wake of the post-Ibbs reform, the existing system of Domestic
Select Committees (Finance and Services, Accommodation and Works,
Administration, Catering and Information) was set up, with responsibility
to consider and advise the House of Commons Commission on discrete
matters of House administration, all of which affect the ability
of Members of the House to perform their functions effectively.
Later the Select Committee on Broadcasting was attached, albeit
indirectly, to the group of Domestic Committees.
3. The Finance and Services
Committee acts as the financial filter between the other Domestic
Committees on the one hand, and the Commission on the other.
Its main function is to prepare, for submission to the Commission,
the two House of Commons Votes viz the Administration and Works
Votes respectively. Currently the combined total of these two
Votes nears £200m per annum.
4. The Finance and Services
Committee is assisted in that task by the Board of Management
from whom policy recommendations are submitted as written memoranda.
In carrying out the Committee's second main task, that of monitoring
the financial performance of the Departments of the House, it
has the assistance of the Director of Finance and Services and
the Director of Works.
5. The Committee's third
remit is to receive advice and information on matters of House
administration dealt with by the Domestic Committees, including
matters such as access to the precincts, groups, accommodation
for Members and staff, refreshment services, and information technology.
It considers the advice sent from the Domestic Committees in
the broad financial context. Senior officials of the House attend
Committee meetings to advise on detailed matters. Meetings are
almost always of a deliberative type. At the end of the Committee's
deliberations, recommendations are made to the House of Commons
Commission or matters are referred back to the other Domestic
Committees for further comment or to the responsible officials
for action. The Committee also commissions special Value for
Money audits on parliamentary matters within the House's administration.
6. The Chairman of the Finance
and Services Committee answers Parliamentary Questions in the
House on all aspects of the Committee's responsibilities. At
present, the `slot' for this Question Time (and that of the House
of Commons Commission) occurs once every four weeks.
7. The Committee occasionally
takes evidence in private and for the first time in the Session
1995-96 reported its evidence to the House
so that it could be taken into account in a debate on the privatisation
8. Normally, however, the
Committee's work is done in the form of deliberative sessions.
Since its nomination, the main subjects considered by the Committee
|Session 1992-93||Session 1993-94|
|Administration Vote||Administration Vote|
|Works Vote||Works Vote|
|Refreshment Department (Finance)||PDVN|
|Phase II (New Building)||Refreshment Department|
|Childcare Provisions|| (Modernisation)|
|Communications and Internet||Privatisation
|Select Committee Travel||Location
|Phase II (New Building)||Phase
II (New Building)|
|Phase II (New Building)|
9. While there has been
some informal discussion about the evolution of the Ibbs system,
it is felt that after only one Parliament of running the existing
system, further radical changes may not be productive. It is
therefore expected that the present system will continue, largely
unchanged, in the new Parliament.
71 Minutes of Evidence: Printing Services for Parliament and Proposed Privatisation of HMSO, HC (1995-96) 97. Back