Select Committee on Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards Annual Report 2002-03


7. Resourcing the Work

7.1  On 21 March 2003, Mr Tony Wright (the Member for Cannock Chase) asked the House of Commons Commission what the cost of the office of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards had been, including staff, in each session since 1996-97. The table below sets out the available figures, by financial year, which have been updated and extended to cover the financial year 2002-03:
Cost of the office of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards 1996-97 to 2002-03
1996-97 1997-981998-99 1999-20002000-01 2001-022002-03
Staffing etc149,269 222,902 230,450 267,070 228,994 293,810 273,101 1,665,596
Running costs2,137 1,137 4,178 1,496 6,103 2,003 406 17,460
151,406 224,039 234,628 268,566 235,097 295,813 273,507 1,683,055

As Sir Archy Kirkwood, replying on behalf of the Commission, made clear, the bulk of the readily identifiable costs of the office are direct staffing costs. Most of the general office running costs, including accommodation and IT/IS support, are absorbed by other parts of the House administration and cannot easily be disaggregated.

7.2  Reporting to the House over a year earlier, the Commission had confirmed, in response to concerns about the adequacy of the resourcing of my office, that it would make available whatever resources were judged necessary for me to do my job.[7] In line with this commitment, a review of the staffing of my office was concluded in May 2002. The report (the full text of which is available on the Parliamentary web-site) recommended that a temporary secretarial post should be made permanent, and also proposed the creation of a new post to support the Commissioner in the investigation of complaints. After discussion with the Chairman of the Committee on Standards and Privileges and myself, the Commission approved these recommendations, subject to a further brief review being undertaken 12 months later to verify the resources required.

7.3  In the event, the reduction in the number of complaints (referred to in Section 4) meant that I did not find it necessary to fill the investigative assistant post. This meant that during the year under review, (since the time of my predecessor), the staffing of my office has consisted of the Registrar of Members' Interests (who spends some 20% of her time on duties not related to standards work), my Personal Assistant, the Assistant Registrar and a full-time Secretary. On the other hand, the average length of my own working week increased after the first 6 months of my appointment from 3 to 4 days a week, mainly as a result of the additional work of a policy character resulting from the follow-up to the Wicks Report, and the greater emphasis being put on prevention and advice to Members. Again, the Commission proved itself willing to respond flexibly to this development.

7.4  I am grateful to the Commission for confirming its readiness to honour its commitment to resource the work at the level required. It cannot be said, on the evidence of the last 12 months, that the work is being impeded by a lack of necessary resources.


7   HC 598 (2001-02) Back


 
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