House of Lords Staff Handbook Seventeenth Edition


Access to facilities


7.1. During the summer, from the Whitsun Recess, staff may use Black Rod's Garden (reached via Royal Court).


7.2. The Rector of St Margaret's (the Speaker's Chaplain) celebrates Holy Communion in the Chapel of St Mary Undercroft on Wednesdays at 12.45 p.m. except in recesses. Services are conducted by other denominations in the Chapel periodically.


7.3. Staff may sponsor visits of the Clock Tower by groups of up to 16 people. Tours should be arranged by telephone on extension 4862. Since the availability of tours is limited, to ensure equitable allocation of resources the support of your head of office may on occasion be requested.


7.4 All staff with a specific business need may enter the Queen's Room of the Library to consult Library staff or reference books. All staff with a specific business need may borrow books from the Library's loan stock, provided that the books remain within the Parliamentary Estate and subject to immediate recall by Library staff. All staff engaged in a course of study supported by the House may borrow books from the Library's loan stock on a Friday, provided that they are returned on the following Monday morning. All staff may use the Library annex in Millbank House, where books and reference works from the main Library may be consulted.


7.5. Room 45 on the ground floor of Millbank House (First Aid Room) is also a room designated for prayer.


7.6. St Margaret's Church has been associated with both Houses of Parliament for over 300 years. Members and staff of the House are welcome to attend its regular services, and the Church is available to them for baptisms, weddings and memorial services, as arranged with the Rector.


7.7. Owing to problems of overcrowding on the Terrace, access to and use of it are limited. All staff at grade B2 and above may use the Terrace at any time and may entertain 2 guests. All permanent staff may use the Terrace on non-sitting days, and from thirty minutes after the rising of the House on Thursdays and Fridays. At popular times in the summer, staff should use the Terrace discreetly.

Blood donation

7.8. There is an opportunity for staff to give blood at sessions which take place twice yearly, normally on Fridays in April and October. Dates and details are announced on the Staff Notice Board.

Car parking

7.9. Some car parking space is available for staff. However space is at a premium and in general only those staff engaged in night duties will be considered eligible for a permit. No parking is permitted without authority and unauthorised parking is viewed as a serious offence. Use of car parking spaces may be monitored to ensure value for money. All staff requiring a parking permit must apply in the first instance to the Director of Human Resources who alone can authorise a space. Staff who are authorised to park will be issued with car parking permits by the Pass Office. Car Park permits must be shown when requested on entry to the Palace of Westminster and displayed within the car when it is parked; permits must not be displayed outside the Palace.

7.10. Staff holding temporary passes (those photo identity passes marked "TEMP") are not entitled to car parking.

Cash dispensers

7.11. Staff may draw cash from three machines, provided by Barclays Bank, the National Westminster Bank and the Co-operative Bank, situated on the ground floor near the House of Lords Bar and River Restaurant. The Barclays machine also accepts cash dispenser cards issued by Lloyds Bank, the Bank of Scotland and the Royal Bank of Scotland.


7.12. Staff holding full photo identity passes may use the House of Lords Bar and River Restaurant and the cafeteria in Millbank House. Staff may also use the House of Commons Terrace Cafeteria in the Palace of Westminster, Bellamy's in Parliament Street, the cafeteria in Portcullis House and the ground floor cafeteria and the 6th Floor Café at No 7 Millbank. Staff who hold temporary passes may use only the House of Lords Bar and River Restaurant and Bellamy's. Staff may entertain one guest in the Millbank House cafeteria, and up to two guests in the Lords Bar and River Restaurant, Terrace Cafeteria or Bellamy's, on production of a full photo identity pass.

7.13. All permanent staff may use the officials' table at the members' end of the Peers' Dining Room, on a first come, first served basis, for lunch or, subject to booking, for dinner (for staff on late duty only). Permanent staff with a specific business need to entertain official visitors may use the Peers' Dining Room with the approval of their Head of Office. Permanent staff may entertain guests in the Peers' Dining Room on any non-sitting day, subject to booking.

7.14. Clerks who sit at the Table, Black Rod and the Yeoman Usher may use the Bishops' Bar at any time and other permanent staff may drink there if invited to do so by a member. Permanent staff may use the Bishops' Bar sandwich counter after 9.00 p.m. to purchase food to take away.

7.15. Permanent staff with a specific business need to entertain official visitors may use the Peers' Guest Room with the approval of their Head of Office. All staff at grade A2 and above, together with Fast Stream clerks and Library clerks, may use the Peers' Guest Room.

7.16. Staff of the Refreshment Department are provided with meals without charge in accordance with arrangements made by the Head of Catering Services.

Civil Service Benevolent Fund

7.17. The benefits of the Civil Service Benevolent Fund are available to all serving and retired members of staff and their dependants, whether or not they contribute. The Fund provides residential nursing home care, convalescent facilities and financial assistance to those in need. Further details are available from the Welfare Officer.

7.18. The Fund is supported by the voluntary contributions of its members and staff contribute by regular subscription direct from salary. Further details may be obtained from the Human Resources Office.

Civil Service Club

7.19. Membership of the Civil Service Club is open to staff of the House. Facilities include a large ground floor bar, with hot and cold food readily available; a dining room; and twenty-three bedrooms, some with showers ensuite, all with telephones and colour TV. Lounges, TV rooms and function rooms for private parties are also available. The Club organises a wide variety of activities for members of all ages. Details are available from the Human Resources Office or contact them direct at The Club is situated in Great Scotland Yard, off Whitehall.

Civil Service Lifeboat Fund

7.20. Staff have contributed for many years, by an annual collection, to the Civil Service, Post Office and British Telecom Lifeboat Fund (CISPOTEL).

Civil Service Sports Council

7.21. Staff may join the Civil Service Sports Council. Facilities include the Headquarters Ground at Dukes Meadows, Chiswick, where there are soccer, rugby, hockey and cricket pitches, tennis courts, bowling greens, a netball court, a boathouse (for rowing) and a pavilion. Other grounds are located at Eltham. There is a Recreation Centre at Chadwick Street, Westminster, with indoor facilities: snooker, table tennis, fitness centre, gymnasium, TV, conference rooms, bars and lounges. Members may use the Council's clubhouses and sports ground facilities throughout the country. Competitions and championships in many sports and recreations are organised in London and nationally. Application forms may be obtained from the Human Resources Office.

Civil Service societies and associations

7.22. Other Civil Service societies and associations to which staff may belong, details of which are available from the Welfare Officer, include:

The Civil Service Insurance Society

Civil Service Healthcare

The Civil Service Motoring Association

The Civil Service Pensioners' Alliance

The Civil Service Retirement Fellowship

Benenden Healthcare

The Nationwide Physiotherapy Service

Staff may benefit from a 45% discount on membership of BUPA, as extended to the BUPA Palace of Westminster Group. Staff should ring BUPA on 0800 289577 if they wish to benefit.

Financial assistance for purchase of season tickets and bicycles

7.23. At the discretion of the Director of Human Resources, a member of staff who has completed two months' service or more and who requires financial assistance to purchase a season ticket between home and the House of Lords may be granted an advance for this purpose. Advances may be made to assist in the purchase of quarterly or longer season tickets. Advances may also be made to assist in the purchase of a bicycle for use in travelling between home and the House of Lords. A further advance will not be made until an existing advance has been fully recovered. Advances will normally be recovered within the life of the season ticket by equal monthly or weekly instalments deducted from pay or, in the case of advances for the purchase of bicycles, within twelve months. If a member of staff in receipt of an advance leaves the service of the House, the outstanding balance will be deducted from the final salary payment. Advances for season tickets or bicycles should be used only for the purpose for which they were made. A photocopy of the season ticket and validating photocard must be forwarded to the Human Resources Office within 14 days of the purchase of the season ticket. Random checks will be made to ensure that the advances are being used for the purpose for which they were made. Application forms and further information about the rules are available from the Human Resources Office, who must be satisfied that the advance is in accordance with the application. Breach of any of the conditions under which season ticket advances are made is a serious offence which will lead to disciplinary action.

7.24. If a season ticket, purchased under the arrangements set out in the previous paragraph, is cashed in before it expires, the details should be notified to the Human Resources Office and the sum repaid to the House.

Further and higher education

7.25. There is a scheme, set out in Appendix A, for providing financial assistance for established staff who undertake approved courses of further and higher education. This is in addition to the arrangements whereby staff may attend work-related training courses, at the National School of Government or elsewhere, arranged by their Head of Office and paid for by the House of Lords from office budgets (see paragraph 11.6).

House of Lords Retired Staff Association

7.26. On retiring from the House staff will be given details of the House of Lords Retired Staff Association. There is an annual subscription to the Association, which is run by and for retired staff.

Late-night car service

7.27. When the House rises after 10.40 p.m. and before 9.00 a.m., a free cab service is provided after the rising of the House, for distances up to 25 miles from the House. At times of serious transport disruption, an earlier threshold time may be announced. The service is solely for the use of those staff who are required to be on duty and for whom there is no parking space allocated. The senior member of staff on duty in each office will be required to certify that staff using the service are eligible to do so on each occasion. Staff travelling more than 25 miles to their homes will be charged for the extra cost of their journeys.

7.28. Those staff who have parking spaces allocated and who, exceptionally, wish to use the late-night transport facility may do so at the discretion of the senior member of staff on duty. It is anticipated that such occasions will be infrequent and abuse could lead to the withdrawal of the parking space.

7.29. Any complaints about the late-night transport service should be taken up with the driver at the time if that is appropriate or should be directed to the cab company concerned through the Clerk of the Printed Paper Office, who is responsible for monitoring the contract.

Line of Route

7.30. Staff may, on production of their photo identity pass, take up to six visitors along the Line of Route, when it is open.

Lost property

7.30a. Property lost or found should be reported to the Attendants' Office, Peers' Lobby. Anything not claimed may be disposed of after six months.

Post Office

7.31. Staff may use the Post Office in Central Lobby. Cheques up to specified limits may be cashed at this Post Office on production of a cheque guarantee card and of a photo identity pass. A handling charge is made.


7.31a..Requests for references for future employment, mortgage applications, personal loans, tenancy agreements etc., are dealt with by the Human Resources Office, rather than by individual managers or Heads of Office. If you need a reference, or if you are asked to provide a reference on behalf of a present or former member of staff, please contact the Human Resources Office. Requests are normally turned round in 24 hours.

Refreshment Department gift shop

7.32. The Refreshment Department gift shop which is located between the Cholmondeley Room and the Home Room sells a range of items which are suitable for presents. Access is from Royal Court or the Cholmondeley Room staircase. The shop is open on Mondays to Thursdays from 11.00 a.m. to 8.00 p.m., and on Fridays from 11.00 a.m. to 3.00 p.m. The shop is usually closed during periods when the Refreshment Department is closed.

Sports and social club

7.33. Membership of the Houses of Parliament Sports and Social Club is open to staff permanently employed within the Palace of Westminster on payment of a small subscription. The Club's facilities include a bar with hot and cold snacks, darts, and a 0.22 rifle range. Football and rugby matches are arranged along with occasional golf and cricket events. Among various social events organised by the Club is the annual outing, which all permanent staff, not necessarily members of the Sports and Social Club, who have served six months or more are entitled to attend. Otherwise, the Club organises about 12 outings per year. Further details about membership are available from the Membership Secretary on extension 6138.

Staff magazine

7.34. The House supports the publication of a staff magazine, in conjunction with the House of Commons. All staff are encouraged to contribute items of interest and should contact Alison Couch, Internal Communications Manager, on extension 4155.

Staff Notice Boards

7.35. Human Resources Office Staff Notice Boards and Health and Safety Notice Boards are situated on the First Floor corridor on the West Front, in the office of the Official Report, the Refreshment Department, in Millbank House and 7 Old Palace Yard. Appointments, promotions, vacancies and other matters of interest to staff are announced on them. Copies of notices displayed on Notice Boards are also sent to Offices. Nothing should be placed on the Notice Boards without the express permission of the Human Resources Office.

Staff Rooms

7.36. The Refreshment Department provides a rest room for catering staff, and Black Rod's Department provides facilities for certain of its staff. Staff rooms for other staff are on the First Floor, West Front (Rooms 24 and 27) and on the Second Floor of Millbank House (Rooms 236 and 237).

Travel Office

7.37. The Travel Office provides travel services for Members and others in the Palace of Westminster. Ancillary services include foreign exchange, insurance and a passport and visa service. Details may be obtained from the Travel Office.

Welfare fund

7.38. There is a welfare fund for the purpose of making loans, in case of personal hardship, to members of the staff of the House. Applications for assistance from the fund should in the first instance be made to the Welfare Officer who will seek authority from the Director of Human Resources.

Welfare Officer

7.39. The Welfare Officer (Anne Mossop) and her Deputy (Tanya Harris) are available for confidential consultation on any personal problems staff may have, including living accommodation, domestic difficulties, health and sickness, working conditions etc. The Welfare Officer is based in the Occupational Health, Safety and Welfare Service in 7 Millbank. Appointments may be made at all times on extension 4789.

Westminster Gymnasium

7.40. Membership of the Westminster Gymnasium is open to all permanent staff of the House. Facilities include gymnasium, sauna, aerobics and other classes. A joining fee and an annual membership fee are payable. Inquiries should be made on extension 5546.

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