Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

Current FeeNew Fee
Petitions for leave to appeal - mandatory fees
Presentation£ 500£ 570
Entering appearance£100£115
Petitions of appeal - mandatory fees
Presentation (following successful petition for leave to appeal)£500£570
Presentation (not following petition for leave)£1,000£1,140
Entering appearance£200£230
Lodging statement and appendix and setting down£3,000£3,420
Petitions of appeal-occasional fees
Waiver of security£100£115
First petition for extension of time£200£230
Second petition for extension£300£340
Third petition for extension£500£570
Fourth or subsequent petition for extension£1,000
Other interlocutory petition, if agreed£200£230
Any interlocutory petition, if opposed£500£570

    The Committee expressed its concern at the lack of progress which had been made in providing further office accommodation for Members. The occupation of 7 Little College Street in December 2000 and Millbank House in August 2001 will provide 180 new desks for Members, and staff of the House will also move into Millbank House, creating more office space for Members within the Palace.

    The Committee is well aware that this is only a start. At our next meeting, we will review the disparity in the accommodation available to the two Houses within the Palace itself on the basis of information provided by Black Rod on the amount of office accommodation and other facilities available to the two Houses.

27 Jul 2000 : Column 609

    9. Smoking policy in Millbank House

    The Committee agreed that smoking should only be permitted in private offices if all of the occupants of a room agree; and that smoking should not be permitted in any of the communal areas of the building (including the entrance lobby, the library, the refreshment facility, the conference room and corridors, staircases and lifts).

    1. The House of Commons has incurred damages and costs following litigation over the tender for the facade of Portcullis House.

    2. Review of Management and Services, Report to the House of Commons Commission by a team lead by Mr Michael Braithwaite (July 1999, HC 745).

    3. The "domestic" committees are the Offices Committee, its four Sub-Committees on Finance and Staff; Administration and Works; Refreshment; and Library and Computers, and the Advisory Panel on Works of Art.

Lord Barnett: My Lords, I thank the Chairman of Committees for that statement. Before I turn to the main issue of the consultant, perhaps I can put two main points to the House on paragraph 1 and the pay proposals for fast-stream Clerks. I strongly agree with that and am delighted to support it. We need good quality Clerks and I am very happy with that proposal.

In paragraph 2, under salaries of the Chairman and Principal Deputy Chairman, I have a specific question which was not answered last time. We are now told that the increase is from around £64,000 to £66,000, back-dated to 1st April 2000. That is a perfectly reasonable increase, which I support. But, according to the annual report and accounts, a year earlier the Chairman's salary was £54,000. So the increase during the course of the year was £10,000. I do not know whether that is an oversight but I shall be glad to know how that happened. I see the Leader of the Opposition nodding, indicating he too seeks a reply. It may be that there is some special reason for that £10,000 increase. If so, perhaps the committee could find a special reason for increasing the expenses for your Lordships.

Let me turn immediately to the main issue, which I raised last time; that is, the question of the consultant. I am obliged to the Chairman of Committees for the further information. We have now heard, and read in the report, the case for a review. Let me say at once that I strongly agree with that; after 10 years there can be little doubt about it. The case for a consultant, however, is an entirely different matter. The last time we discussed this, my impression was that most, if not all, of your Lordships agreed with me that we did not need a consultant.

We now see in the report that the main case put forward for a consultant is that the House,

    "would greatly benefit from the involvement of someone with in-depth knowledge of modern management practices and who could approach the task with an open mind and without preconceived views".

I hope the committee will not mind my saying that that is an insult to your Lordships. We are now told, as a way out of this difficulty, that we are to set up a small

27 Jul 2000 : Column 610

steering committee--presumably made up of Members of your Lordships' House with open minds. I shall be glad to know how they will select that type of Peer.

We are told that the consultant will lead the review. What will he do? One thing he will do is consult. That is what most consultants do. They then tell us what those they consulted recommend. That will be the case here. Except, as we saw from the House of Commons report, the Members will be consulted. So presumably the consultant will consult noble Lords with or without open minds; then the consultant and the committee will come back to your Lordships' House with the result.

But the Offices Committee does not simply recommend a consultant; it recommends a specific consultant--Mr Braithwaite. Let me make it clear that I do not know the gentleman. I imagine he is a good consultant; he gets paid reasonably well. So the Offices Committee will appoint him, despite the fact that it has not used the rules that normally apply; namely, the Nolan rules. The committee recommends we appoint that gentlemen with or without the Nolan rules. Why? Because he did a great job in the Commons.

I understand that we want to begin the review as soon as possible. But the gentleman concerned was appointed in the Commons in October 1998. He reported one parliamentary year later and that report was debated in January 2000. If we have such a review, with or without the consultant, can the Chairman of Committees ensure that some of the interim decisions are brought before your Lordships' House rather more quickly than happened in the other place?

We are asked to support this review without being told what it will cost. The committee cannot tell us because it does not know how long it will take. Perhaps we could be told how much an hour or a day will be paid. I can tell your Lordships that the cost to the other place of employing Mr Braithwaite was £77,000, "of identifiable expenditure". That is a new phrase. So £77,000 was "identifiable", but we have no idea what was unidentifiable. No one could tell us that. But that figure included the cost of printing a 179-page report. So the amount we are being asked to agree to will be in that region. The report in the other place was actually drafted in its entirety by a senior Clerk. So perhaps that will stand as a warning to the Clerk of the Parliaments to consider who will draft this report here if we agree to it.

Unless noble Lords have changed their minds from what was implied the last time we discussed this matter, the setting up of a steering committee, with or without a consultant, is crucial. If that committee was appointed by your Lordships--the Leader of the Opposition shows surprise that I suggest that--it could employ a consultant or an adviser, but that should be for that committee to decide.

Judging by the way that these matters progress, this is likely to finish up being dealt with by the usual channels. I hope, therefore, that we shall at least be

27 Jul 2000 : Column 611

given an assurance that the committee will consist of senior Back-Benchers. They are the Members upon whom we can rely to speak for us--that is to say, for your Lordships' House. If I may say so, with the greatest possible respect, this should not be a matter for the usual channels, or even the usual authorities. The committee must represent us.

So I hope that we shall be given an assurance that, whatever happens, we shall have a speedy interim report that can be dealt with properly, and which includes, for example, the question of accommodation referred to in paragraph 8 of this report. We know that there are some 40 rooms in this House that are still used by the House of Commons, despite the fact that the other place now has 200 extra rooms at a cost of £1 million a piece. I hope that we shall not be reminded of the terrible cost about which we are talking, when the other place still has--and will not give up--40 rooms that should be available to us. I trust that that matter will be dealt with quickly by the proposed committee.

I rest there what case I have. I hope that we shall receive assurance that, whatever happens, we shall have an early debate on these matters. I also hope that I shall receive support from all parts of the House for what I have said.

5 p.m.

Viscount Cranborne: My Lords, as usual, the noble Lord, Lord Barnett, has put the case far better than I could have done. However, I should like briefly to support the burden of his remarks as regards paragraph 5 of the Select Committee's report. It seems to me to be rather perverse for this report to suggest that there should be a committee whose job would be to steer this review. If that committee has as its purpose the job of steering the review, it seems at least curious that part of that steering exercise should be taken from it and determined before its members have even been appointed. If the job of the committee is to steer that review, would it not be much more sensible for its members to be appointed and for consideration to take place thereafter on who should be appointed to undertake the nuts and bolts of the review, so that that person can report to the committee? In that way, we would have some assurance that the committee is not just a piece of window dressing to enable the powers that be--whoever they may be nowadays--to get through their pre-agreed solution.

It was extremely helpful of the noble Lord the Chairman of Committees--indeed, the House should be most grateful to him--to take into account to such a degree the concern that many of us expressed on the previous occasion such a report was debated on the Floor of the House. I wonder whether the noble Lord will be able to consider the plea made by the noble Lord, Lord Barnett; namely, that, if the steering committee is to perform its task properly, it would give a number of us a considerable amount of reassurance that the House is in control of its own affairs if the proposed committee were commissioned to examine who might best help it to carry out the review.

27 Jul 2000 : Column 612

It may well be that Mr Braithwaite will be the right man for the job. In fact, there is a good argument for that because, I dare say, a good deal of what another consultant might be required to do would duplicate the work that Mr Braithwaite has already accomplished for another place. Indeed, we might economise on his services in that respect. I believe that this House would be well served if it were possible for the steering committee to be set up first. The committee should then consider who best to appoint to assist it in this task. Thereafter, as is the way with modern appointments, the committee should, if it thinks it right, hold a suitable beauty parade. In that way, we would be assured that the committee had exercised due diligence in deciding upon the appointment.

As I said, the House should be extremely grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Barnett, who, as we know, is vigilant in such matters. Indeed, his experience as a former chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, let alone as Chief Secretary to the Treasury under a previous government, affords him a considerable amount of authority in matters financial.

Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page