1.In accordance with section 14 of the Parliamentary Buildings (Restoration and Renewal) Act 2019 the Shadow Sponsor Body (SSB) will become a separate legal entity on 8 April 2020.
2.Following the recommendation of the Joint Committee on the Parliamentary Buildings (Restoration and Renewal) Bill, the Board of the Shadow Sponsor Body has agreed to nominate spokespersons from amongst their parliamentary members to respond to scrutiny in Parliament. This report sets out the proposed arrangements for a House of Lords spokesperson to speak on behalf of the Sponsor Body, including answering parliamentary questions. The arrangements maintain equivalence, as far as possible, with the role of the spokesperson in the House of Commons.
3.We propose that the spokesperson for the Sponsor Body should:
(a)Respond to questions for written answer;
(b)Respond to oral questions;
(c)Participate in debates, including responding to questions for short debate, on behalf of the Sponsor Body;
(d)Make written statements;
(e)Move the resolution to approve the proposed restoration works and funding (required by section 7 of the 2019 Act).
4.The Sponsor Body spokesperson would have fewer resources to draw upon than a government minister, which means that responding to questions in the House at short notice would present logistical challenges. We therefore propose that the Sponsor Body spokesperson would not be eligible to make oral statements; and that private notice questions, topical oral questions or topical questions for short debate to the spokesperson would not be admissible.
5.The proposals we make in paragraphs 4 and 5 would require amendments to the Companion to Standing Orders. We recommend the following amendments to the Companion to recognise the role of the for Parliamentary Works Sponsor Body spokesperson:
[new words in bold]
6.10 Written statements may be made when the House is sitting, by ministers, or the Senior Deputy Speaker or the Parliamentary Works Sponsor Body spokesperson. Notice is not required. Written statements may also be published online and in editions of Hansard produced when the House is not sitting. Written statements are available online as soon as they are made and are published in Hansard. The digital copy of written statements is the definitive record copy.
Questions relating to the business of either House
6.21 In respect of the House of Lords, questions may be addressed to certain members of the House as holders of official positions but not as members of the government. Thus the Leader of the House has been questioned on matters of procedure, and the Senior Deputy Speaker on matters falling within the duties of his office or relating to the House of Lords Commission and other domestic committees. The Parliamentary Works Sponsor Body spokesperson may also be questioned on the activities of that Body and matters falling within the scope of the Restoration and Renewal Programme.1
Parliamentary Works Sponsor Body
11.8X The Parliamentary Works Sponsor Body is a statutory body, whose proceedings are not proceedings in Parliament, appointed by both Houses of Parliament in accordance with the Parliamentary Buildings (Restoration and Renewal) Act 2019. Membership of the Sponsor Body is subject to confirmation by resolution of each House (or in the case of the parliamentary members, of the House to which they belong).
11.8X The Parliamentary Works Sponsor Body is required to publish a report on its activities at least once a year. There is a presumption that such a report will be debated in Grand Committee or in the Chamber on an annual basis. Such debates are on a take-note motion (see paragraph 6.59) moved by the Sponsor Body’s spokesperson or another Lords member of the Sponsor Body, who is also expected to wind up the debate.
6.Schedule 1 to the 2019 Act sets out the arrangements for appointing the members of the substantive Sponsor Body. This includes the approval of a resolution by the House to agree the appointment of the Lords members of the Body. We expect the appointment motion to be moved before the Easter recess to allow the Board of the Sponsor Body to begin discharging its functions on 8 April when it becomes substantive under the Act. On 8 April the Act will also ‘roll over’ the appointment of the shadow external members to the substantive Sponsor Body. The Act requires these appointments to be confirmed within once month of the commencement date, which will require the approval of a separate resolution of the House.2 We report this to the House for information.
1 Private notice questions, topical oral questions and topical questions for short debate to the Parliamentary Works Sponsor Body spokesperson are not admissible.
2 Under paragraph 8, Schedule 1