Report - House of Commons Governance - House of Commons Governance Committee Contents


Summary

In this report we set out a package of proposals which address the immediate problem of the appointment of a new Clerk of the House and include necessary reforms to the governance of the House. They will deliver:

·  A coherent management and strategic leadership structure in which the Member and official elements are properly integrated for the first time;

·  Clarity to the respective roles of Members and officials.

Taken together our proposals provide an organisational framework which will enable the House to operate more effectively and efficiently and provide reinforcement to the development of a unified House service.

Our proposals are:

·  The House of Commons Commission should have an additional explicit statutory responsibility: to set the strategic framework for the provision of services to the House, its Members and the public;

·  To support this enhanced role, and to reflect wider principles of good governance, its membership should be:

¾  The current ex officio members (Speaker (Chair), Leader of the House, Shadow Leader of the House);

¾  Four backbench members elected by the whole House and drawn one each from the three largest parties and the remaining Members;

¾  Two external members;

¾  Two official members;

·  The separate responsibilities of the Finance and Services Committee and the Administration Committee should be more clearly defined. Finance and Services should become a Finance Committee. The Administration Committee should have no more than 11 members;

·  The four backbench Members of the Commission should have portfolio responsibilities, allocated to them by the Commission. For two of them this would include chairing the new Finance and Administration Committees. The other two should take on key strategic priorities;

·  The Clerk of the House should remain Head of the House service, appointed by Letters Patent, but should not also be titled Chief Executive;

·  A new post of Director General of the House of Commons should be created, reporting to the Clerk but with clearly delineated autonomous responsibilities for the delivery of services;

·  The Clerk and the Director General of the House of Commons should be the two official members of the Commission;

·  The Management Board should be replaced with an Executive Committee (in effect a sub-committee of the Commission) chaired by the Director General of the House of Commons and comprising in addition the Clerk, the Director of Finance and up to three other officials.

Structural changes are not enough to reform how an organisation operates: we have made important recommendations about changes to the culture of the House and its service which will be necessary to deliver the reforms we look for.

We were asked to report by 12 January, but to ensure that the House had as much time as possible to consider and act on our report before dissolution at the end of March, we set ourselves the tighter timetable of reporting by Christmas. We have set out a timetable for implementation which we believe is realistic and practicable, but will require support from across the House.

The 'paused' recruitment process for Clerk of the House/Chief Executive should be formally terminated.

We propose new recruitment processes for the Clerk of the House and the Director General of the House of Commons which are in line with modern recruitment practice.



 
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Prepared 17 December 2014