Select Committee on House of Lords Offices Sixth Report



BY THE SELECT COMMITTEE appointed to consider the House of Lords' Offices


  The Committee has met and been attended by the Clerk of the Parliaments and the Gentlemen Usher of the Black Rod.

1.  Pay proposals for fast stream clerks and library clerks

  The Committee's Fifth Report informed the House that the Committee had agreed to new arrangements, developed in conjunction with the House of Commons, for paying clerks (recruited through the Civil Service competition for administrative grade civil servants) and library clerks. The Report was criticised for lacking detail, which is as follows: the old pay range was £16,306 to £28,336 and the new pay range will be £20,000 to £27,500. Progression will be by three annual increments, subject to satisfactory performance. Promotion should normally be after four years, subject to satisfactory performance.

2.  Salaries of the Chairman and Deputy Chairman of Committees

  The Committee's Fifth Report informed the House that the Committee had approved revised salaries for the Chairman and Principal Deputy Chairman of Committees. The Report was criticised for lacking detail, which is as follows: the salary of the Chairman of Committees is increased from £64,429 to £66,294; and the salary of the Principal Deputy Chairman of Committees is increased from £60,032 to £61,773. Both of the increases are with effect from 1 April 2000, and are in line with changes to the salaries of Ministers and other paid office holders.

3.  Lords' reimbursement allowances

  The Committee's Fifth Report informed the House about changes to the motor mileage allowance and the bicycle allowance. From 1 April 2000 the motor mileage allowance was up-rated in line with the retail price index to 52.5 pence per mile for the first 20,000 miles and 24.2 pence per mile thereafter (up 1.3 pence and 0.6 pence respectively); and the bicycle allowance was up-rated to 6.7 pence per mile (up 0.2 pence).

4.  Commercial activities

  As stated in its Fifth Report, the Committee has agreed that the House of Lords should not be used by Members as a business address nor the name used for the promotion of any commercial activity.

5.  Appointment of a management consultant

Previous recommendation

  In its Fifth Report the Committee recommended the appointment of Mr Michael Braithwaite "to undertake a review of the management structure and the structure, including the Committee structure, for taking decisions about the services of the House and other domestic matters, which were introduced in the House of Lords in 1991-92 following the Ibbs reforms in the House of Commons".

  During the debate on the Committee's Report on 21 June there was considerable criticism of the proposal. In particular, it was argued that not enough information had been provided about the proposal; that there was no need to look outside the House for advice; and that the money could be better spent elsewhere. The Chairman of Committees withdrew the motion to approve the Report, and said that the proposal would be reconsidered.

  At its meeting on 19 July the Committee considered the matter at length. For the reasons set out in this Report the Committee remains convinced that a review is necessary, but it has revised its original recommendation to the House.

Reasons for a review

  The proper resourcing of the House is of fundamental importance to its effectiveness. As the activities of the House continue to change and grow, and the expectations of Members increase, the Committee believes that a review would help to ensure better strategic planning for the future and effective management of the House's resources.

  The House's financial management structures have not been reviewed in detail since they were put in place nearly 10 years ago, following the Ibbs reforms in the House of Commons. The reforms gave the two Houses much greater control over Parliamentary expenditure, especially in relation to the maintenance of the Parliamentary estate and printing. In the financial year 1999-2000, total expenditure by the House was £45 million. Many savings have already been achieved (especially in relation to printing) and better services provided, but the Committee considers that more could be done.

  In his role as Accounting Officer the Clerk of the Parliaments must be certain that value for money is secured in the provision of services for the House; and that the existing system of budgetary control is satisfactory. In his role as Corporate Officer of the House, he must also be sure that procurement and contracting procedures are sufficiently robust to avoid the threat of litigation[1]. A review would provide additional assurances to the Clerk of the Parliaments in the discharge of his responsibilities.

  None of this is intended to suggest that the House is poorly managed at present. But a review would ensure that the House's management structure operates to the very highest standards, and that it is responsive to the increasing demands being made upon it.

  The House of Commons have already undertaken a review of their management structure, assisted by Mr Braithwaite, and the recommendations which resulted are now being implemented[2]. Additionally Mr Braithwaite has just completed a second review for the House of Commons into the Parliamentary Works Directorate and the Parliamentary Communications Directorate. While there are significant differences between the two Houses, this House should not ignore changes in the way the Commons may manage shared services such as the Parliamentary Works Directorate, which is responsible for works and the maintenance of the Parliamentary estate, and the Parliamentary Communications Directorate, which is responsible for the telephone network and the Parliamentary Data and Video Network (PDVN). Both are part-financed by the House of Lords.

  Furthermore, many Members have expressed their dissatisfaction with the House's "domestic" committee structure[3] and their apparent failure to deliver all the improvements which Members would wish to have. A review should ensure that the House and its committees retain effective control over the delivery of its services and that the entire structure is responsive to the needs of Members, for example in relation to accommodation which is the source of widespread dissatisfaction.

Obtaining a fresh perspective, while retaining control of the review

  The Committee considers that a review 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 pre-conceived views. The Committee therefore recommends that Mr Michael Braithwaite be appointed to lead the review. The final decision on whether to implement any recommendations will, of course, belong to the House's committees and ultimately to the House itself. There is no question that reforms affecting the House will be made without its prior approval.

  However, the Committee understands the desire to keep the review under the control and supervision of the House. The Committee therefore proposes that a small steering group of Members be appointed to supervise the review, and to act as a channel for comments from Members (the review will, in addition, involve interviews with Members). If the Committee's proposal is agreed to, such a steering group will be appointed before the start of the review. The Clerk of the Parliaments also proposes that two senior officers of the House (Rhodri Walters, the current Establishment Officer and Brigadier Hedley Duncan, the Yeoman Usher) form part of Mr Braithwaite's team (a similar arrangement was made in the Commons).


  The final cost of the review will depend on the time it takes to complete which, in turn, will depend largely on the number of interviews the review team is required to carry out. However, the cost of employing Mr Braithwaite is likely to be lower than other consultants with his experience, because of the knowledge of Parliament he has acquired during his two reviews in the House of Commons. This knowledge will be particularly useful in relation to the services which the House shares with the Commons.


  The Committee recommends that there should be "a review of the management structure and the structure for taking decisions about the services of the House and other domestic matters, including the impact on the domestic Committee structure"; that the review should take place under the supervision of a small steering group composed of Members of the House; and that Mr Braithwaite should be appointed to lead the review.

6.  Steps of the Throne

  On 9 December 1999 the House agreed that hereditary peers who are no longer Members of the House should be allowed to sit on the Steps of the Throne, but that the privilege should be reviewed before the end of the Session.

  The Committee found that between 10 January and 12 July 46 hereditary peers made use of the privilege on a total of 104 different occasions. There were 102 sitting days in the period in question meaning that the privilege was used, on average, a shade over once per sitting day. The Committee concluded that the privilege was not being abused and that there was no reason at the present time to end it.

  The Committee recommends that hereditary peers should continue to be allowed to sit on the Steps of the Throne. The privilege can be reviewed in the future.

7.  Judicial Fees and Security Money

  The Committee has agreed to increase the flat rate Taxing Fee, introduced at £25 on 1 April 1983, to £50; to increase the amount of security for costs set at £18,000 in April 1994 to £25,000; and to increase the other judicial fees payable (last set in 1995) by the following amounts:
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

8.  Accommodation

  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.

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. Back
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). Back
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. Back

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