Co-operation between the House authorities and the political
30. Getting the support of the whips for any induction programme
is crucial. The
political parties and the House authorities should work together
to ensure that the needs of new Members are identified and addressed
by any induction programme.
Addressing Members' needs
31. Sir Alan Haselhurst considered that the induction
was fine as far as it went but thought newly elected Members could
have been given a better understanding of the procedures and conventions
of the House and more information on how to use them effectively.
Each Member will approach the job differently. We do not suggest
that they are compelled to attend any of the opportunities that
are offered as part of an induction programme; they should be
free to decide which they wish to take up and those for which
they have no need.
32. It was clear that in 2005 many new Members were
overwhelmed by the information provided by the House authorities,
their parties and the huge volume of correspondence from constituents
and campaigning organisations. There is a great deal of information
to be communicated to new Members. We understand that officials
will ensure that the focus at the next election will be on paring
down the information to that which is essential and providing
better signposting and checklists.
While much of the information sent out in 2005 will still be available
on demand it will not be pushed out actively to new Members in
the first few weeks. It will instead be slowly released over time
to avoid overwhelming new Members. An
approach that seeks to manage how information is routinely given
to new Members seems to be a sensible way forward.
33. It was clear from the evidence we received and
from those that we spoke to informally that both Members and House
staff should be involved in delivering the induction programme.
Members themselves have a particular role to play in sharing 'Chamber
craft'. In his memorandum, Professor Lord Norton, Professor of
Government, University of Hull said, 'There is a difference between
knowing rules and procedures and exploiting them to achieve desired
outcomes. Officials can advise MPs what the rules and procedures
are, but are limited in what they can say about using them to
achieve what may be seen as political outcomes. Induction that
deals with the question 'What are the rules and procedures?' is
necessary, but so too is induction that is designed to answer
the question: 'If I want to achieve this, what is the best way
of going about it?' The formal rules are one thing, the tricks
of the trade are another'.
Sir Patrick Cormack said that officials and experienced Members
should be involved in explaining the procedures and how to make
best use of them.
must be involved in delivering part of the induction, either on
a party basis or supporting what is delivered corporately. We
believe that Members should also be involved in determining the
content of the programme and that staff planning the induction
process should test out their ideas with Members. The whips' offices
and executives of political parties should take steps to facilitate
Dealing with the practical difficulties
34. Several of the new Members we spoke to stressed
the importance of being able to deal with practical difficulties
such as the lack of an office, the need hot-desk, problems with
telephones and computers, and difficulties finding accommodation
or recruiting staff.
Those winning a seat (as opposed to holding a seat) and those
moving to London needed more support.
Sir Alan Haselhurst said, 'It is absolutely ridiculous that Members
should be wandering around like refugees in this building for
weeks [after the election]. The most essential thing they need
is an office and a phone so that they can start to get to work
in appointing a secretary and staff. If they have that comfort,
they are then in a position to learn a little more about some
of the situations that they will encounter'.
difficulties faced by new Members must be addressed in order to
ensure that improvements to the induction process have the greatest
chance of success. We acknowledge the important work that the
Administration Committee is doing in this regard and welcome both
their Report on post election services and the response to it.
Party specific versus all-party induction
35. The Hansard Society reported that the new Members
interviewed after the last election did not consistently distinguish
between the induction offered by the House service and that offered
by their party. It
said that better coordination between departments was needed,
as was a checklist to help navigate through the first few days.
It also noted clashes between the parties' timetables and the
briefings offered by the House authorities
and recommended better coordination with the whips and parliamentary
The Hansard Society thought that the political parties and the
House authorities should cooperate on a comprehensive induction
programme for all Members.
In evidence to the Administration Committee Nia Griffith, Member
for Llanelli, and Adam Afriyie, Member for Windsor, said it was
important for parties to have some private time within the induction
programme. In her
written evidence to the Administration Committee Nia Griffith
said training sessions should be run jointly by House staff and
Members. She told
the Administration Committee that an intensive two-day course,
covering all the main aspects of the job would have been welcome
and could have been conducted on a partly all-party and partly
We believe that the induction process should include both partisan
and non-partisan events. The
House authorities should provide an overall framework for the
induction programme within which the parties have dedicated time.
The parties and the House authorities should work together in
planning the next induction programme.
Parties should take steps to ensure that prospective candidates
are aware of the opportunities that will be available to them
if they are successful so that all those who wish to participate
can plan their time accordingly.
THE TIMING OF INDUCTION
36. There are few opportunities for the House authorities
to try out new ideas and innovate.
While there have undoubtedly been improvements in what is offered
progress is inevitably slowed by the lack of opportunity to try
different approaches. Planning is also always going to be hampered
to some degree by the uncertainty over the timing of elections.
Using the gap between the election and the Queen's
37. Several of our witnesses made the point that
an induction programme could take place between the General Election
itself, the meeting of the House to elect a Speaker and to swear
in Members, and the State Opening of the session.
Sir Patrick Cormack argued in favour of an induction programme
held between the election and State Opening, with an extension
to this period of time to accommodate the induction. In the United
States a much longer gap between the election and the start of
a session allows the New Member Orientation Programme to take
place without the members-elect facing the kinds of pressures
new MPs face in Westminster. Typically the new Member Orientation
Programme begins on the Monday after an election and lasts until
Thursday. New Members arrive on the Sunday before and all stay
in the same hotel close to Capitol Hill. The programme is organised
by the majority party (which controls the Committee on House Administration)
but is a bipartisan affair.
38. The Clerk of the House thought that a longer
period between the election and the date of the first meeting
of Parliament could allow a new Member to concentrate on adjusting
to the Parliamentary way of life before the pressure of formal
business builds up.
Table 5 below shows that from 1955 to 1974 and again in 1992 the
House did not meet formally until at least the second week after