Review of Management and Services: Report to the House of Commons Commission Part 1




1.1    In June 1998 the then Leader of the House asked the House of Commons Commission to agree in principle to the setting up of an inquiry to review "the system of management and decision–making responsibilities for services to the House which was set up following the inquiry in 1990 by Sir Robin Ibbs". The Commission agreed to this proposal on 6 July 1998.

1.2    On 26 October 1998 the Commission appointed Michael Braithwaite, formerly a partner in Deloitte & Touche, as the consultant to lead the study, assisted by Robert Rogers, Clerk of Delegated Legislation, James Robertson, Assistant Serjeant at Arms, and Michael Page, Assistant to the Director of Finance and Administration. During the course of the inquiry Lord Newton of Braintree, Leader of the House 1992-1997, joined the team as the present Leader of the House’s nominee. Secretariat support for our work has been provided by Audray Allen of the Clerk's Department, and by Charlotte Every of the Serjeant's Department, to whom we are very grateful.

The Inquiry

1.3    Our concern has been primarily with those services which are funded through the House of Commons Administration Vote and the House of Commons Works Services Vote. The Members' Salaries etc Vote did not form part of the Ibbs recommendations. It was thus not a formal part of our inquiry. However, changes in the level of support for Members through the Office Costs Allowance impact directly upon expenditure on the other two Votes. We consider this relationship in paragraphs 12.10 to 12.16 below.

1.4    We have discussed privately with the House of Lords authorities those recommendations which might affect that House.

1.5    We conducted interviews with 65 people whose present role or previous experience was especially relevant to our inquiry. These included present and former Ministers, members of the Commission, members of the Finance and Services Committee and the other domestic committees, senior Officers in all Departments of the House, and Sir Robin Ibbs and members of his team. They are listed in Annex A.

1.6    We supplemented this by interviewing 40 Members, selected so far as possible to represent the present composition of the House. They are listed in Annex  B, together with the "core questions" covered in those interviews.

1.7    All our interviews were conducted on the basis that they were in confidence and unattributable.

1.8    We met representatives of the Trade Union Side of the House of Commons Whitley Committee on two occasions, and we have received a submission from the Secretaries' and Assistants' Council.

1.9    In considering different forms of governance in Parliamentary administration, we have had the assistance of the Parliaments of Australia (House of Representatives), Canada (House of Commons), and New Zealand; and of the Parliaments of Austria (Bundesrat), Belgium (Chambre des Représantants), Denmark, Finland, France (Assemblée Nationale), Germany (Bundestag), Ireland (Dáil), Italy (Camera dei Deputati), The Netherlands (Tweede Kamer), Spain (Congreso de los Diputados), and Sweden. We have also had help from the Inter–Parliamentary Union and the Local Government Association.

1.10    A quality of service survey for Departments of the House was being carried out by Janet Levin Associates (JLA) during our inquiry. We were grateful for the opportunity to include in the survey questions which have allowed us to bring up to date the work carried out by MORI for the Ibbs inquiry, and we express our thanks to Members and their staff who responded, and to Janet Levin Associates. References to percentage opinions are taken from this survey, and represent percentages of the 300 Members who responded (compared with 354 Members in 1990).

1.11    We have drawn upon a substantial quantity of written evidence, both in the form of existing internal papers and material we have commissioned.

1.12    We are very grateful for the extensive help and co–operation we have received during our inquiry.

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Prepared 26 July 1999