Twenty-fourth Annual Report 2001-2002
This Report of the House of Commons Commission, under section
1(3) of the House of Commons (Administration) Act 1978, covers
the financial year 2001-02. As in previous Reports, we refer
to events both before and afterwards where this is necessary
Our Annual Report has several purposes. It is an important source
of information about the House Administration, both for the
general public and for all those who work within the House,
including Members, their staff, and members of the House Service.
It provides the accountability and transparency that a public
body owes to the taxpayer. And in addition to showing how the
work of the House of Commons has been supported over the year,
it also sets out plans for the future. Not only must we meet
the challenges of changing technology and working methods; it
has also never been more important to spread knowledge and understanding
of the role of the House of Commons, and its work on behalf
of the citizens of the United Kingdom.
and form of the Report
The introduction of resource accounting and budgeting raised
the question of whether our Annual Report should continue to
be published in the summer, with audited resource accounts published
in the autumn; or whether the Report should be delayed until
the autumn and published with the accounts. We feel that the
Report is an important way of informing the House and the public,
and that it should therefore continue to be published as soon
as possible after the financial year to which it refers.
In this Twenty-fourth Annual Report our own overview is followed
by a more detailed report from the Board of Management (pages
20 to 31) (which also reflects the work of the Board's second-tier
management groups), and by reports from individual departments
(pages 32 to 86). Also included is the Annual Report to us by
the House's Audit Committee (page 93).
We continue to seek improvements in the content and presentation
of this Report, and welcome suggestions for further changes.
At the start of the financial year the membership of the Commission
(The Rt Hon Michael J Martin, ex
The Leader of
the House of Commons (The Rt Hon Margaret Beckett, ex
Mrs Angela Browning
(nominated by the Leader of the Opposition)
(Shadow Leader of the House of Commons)
Mr Stuart Bell
The Rt Hon Eric
Upon the formation of the new
administration following the general election of 7 June 2001
the Rt Hon Robin Cook became Leader of the House of Commons
and replaced Mrs Beckett on the Commission. On 3 October 2001
the Rt Hon Eric Forth was nominated by the Leader of the Opposition
in succession to Mrs Browning; and on 13 February 2002 Sir Patrick
Cormack FSA was appointed by the House as the sixth Commissioner.
We express our warm thanks to Dr Malcolm Jack for his work as
Secretary to the Commission over six years until his appointment
as Clerk of the Journals on 1 November 2001. He was succeeded
by Mr Robert Rogers, previously Principal Clerk of Select Committees.
and work of the Commission
The House of Commons Commission is the supervisory body of the
House Administration, and responsible for its policy, finances
and staff. We are supported
and advised by the Board of Management, which is chaired by the
Clerk of the House as Chief Executive. We have a close relationship
with the Finance and Services Committee, which is chaired by a
Commissioner (Mr Stuart Bell), and to which we refer matters for
detailed examination. We also draw upon the advice of the Domestic
Committees, which have the task of reflecting the views of Members
in the planning and provision of services. There were 12 meetings
of the Commission during 2001-02.
to the Commission
Questions to the Commission are answered by Mr Archy Kirkwood
on behalf of the Commission. Oral questions are answered once
a month, in a question period shared with the Leader of the
House as President of the Council. In the year under review
four questions were answered orally; 98 received a written answer.
It is important that there should be the opportunity of seeking
information through formal parliamentary question; but of course
the House Service is also ready to provide specific information
or briefing directly to Members.
Sir William McKay, KCB, Clerk of the House and Chief Executive,
has been Accounting Officer since his appointment as Clerk in
of Commons Expenditure
The Commission is responsible for the House of Commons Administration
Vote (but not for Members' salaries and allowances, which are
paid from a Government Vote, nor for Members' pensions). This
Report shows both historic and current figures in cash terms.
An adjustment under the appropriate tables shows the difference
between the net resource and net cash requirements.
Estimate and Outturn for the House of Commons Administration
A summary of the Estimate and Outturn for 2001-02 is set out
in Tables 1 and 2. The provisional outturn was £134,804,000,
which was £6,306,000 or 4.5% less than the Estimate, due
mainly to lower than forecast expenditure on salaries etc, travel,
printing, and capital expenditure. Some of these underspends
arose from the Dissolution of Parliament in 2001 and lower levels
of activity for example in Committee work in the
early weeks of the new Parliament.
Supply Estimate for the House of Commons Administration 2002-03
The House's Estimate for 2002-03, which was laid upon the Table
by the Speaker on 9 May 2002, amounted to a request for resources
of £213,382,000, a request for £15,107,000 on capital
and a cash requirement of £141,247,000. The cash requirement
is summarised in Tables 1 and 2 on pages 16 and 17. Both the
Estimate and our three-year forward expenditure plans include
provision for the further development of computer-based services
and replacement of computer equipment. Major items include refurbishment
of the Norman Shaw South building, and Committee room air conditioning
and restoration; and continuing work on cabling of the House
for the Parliamentary Data and Video Network (PDVN), fire compartmentation,
and stone cleaning.
Table 3 (page 18) shows
categories of expenditure for 2002-03 in pie-chart form, and
Table 4 (page 19) gives a five-year summary.
of Parliament Trust: grant-in-aid
Since financial year 1995-96 the History of Parliament Trust
has been funded by a grant-in-aid from the House Vote. For 2002-03
(see Table 1) provision of £1,180,000 has been made. The
is a major work of scholarship, and we welcome the publication
of the volumes covering the period 1690-1715. We also support
the efforts of the new Chairman of the Trust (Sir Patrick Cormack
FSA, a Member of the Commission), and the new Director of the
(Dr Paul Seaward, formerly a member of the Clerk's Department)
to achieve a faster rate of completion and publication for the
During the year we received the final report of the Braithwaite
Implementation Manager, detailing the changes since the Commission
in the last Parliament approved recommendations of the Braithwaite
Report on Management and Services
in 1999, and on which we gave a progress report last year. The
key themes of the Braithwaite Report were strategic planning,
a corporate rather than a federal approach to House administration,
objectives and performance reporting, improved management information
and systems, and better information for Members and staff.
A great deal has been achieved over the last two years:
have adopted an outline Strategic Plan for the House Administration
(which appears below). This, together with the detailed supporting
plan of work, will link policy priorities and resources and
provide a more co-ordinated direction to the work of the Administration;
Audit Committee has been established and has already made
a significant contribution;
- the Clerk of the House is now
formally the Chief Executive of the House Service;
Office of the Clerk has been established to provide a central
co-ordination point for House Administration business;
- the Board of Management has overhauled
its working methods; it now has a full-time Secretariat and
second-tier management groups;
have been made in House-wide risk management, human resources
planning and resource investment strategy;
departments now have more comprehensive business plans, with
objectives and reports against performance;
Parliamentary Works Department has been split into Estates
(client) and Works Services (supplier) functions, with the
aim of providing better value for money; and
is better information about the House Administration for Members,
their staff and staff of the House (and an extensive House-wide
induction programme was run for Members entering the House
for the first time in June 2001).
The Braithwaite changes
have done a great deal to improve the operation of the House Administration
and to give it the transparency and accountability that is expected
of a major public body. We look forward to building on these changes.
We especially appreciate the efforts of staff of the House in
contributing fully to the implementation process while still delivering
services of high quality, and we here record our thanks.
outline strategic plan for the House of Commons Administration
(As adopted by
the House of Commons Commission on 29 October 2001)
The House of Commons Service
supports, informs and records the work of the House of Commons
as an elected parliamentary chamber in accordance with the decisions
of the House and its Commission. Whenever feasible it makes its
work and information about that work accessible to the general
public, while maintaining the heritage of parliamentary buildings
and documents in trust for the public and future generations.
It also contributes to parliamentary democracy by sharing its
knowledge with parliaments and assemblies worldwide.
The House of Commons Service seeks to achieve high ethical standards,
value for money and professional excellence in all that it does.
As an employer, the House of Commons Commission recognises and
values the diversity of its staff and is committed to fairness
and best practice.
Core tasks and objectives
The House of Commons Service
has four permanent core tasks:
the House and its committees;
individual Members (and their staff);
information and access to the public; and
the heritage of buildings, objects and documents.
While these tasks are permanent,
the specific needs of the House and its Members are constantly
evolving. The technological, environmental, social and constitutional
contexts in which the House works are also changing. In the
light of the Braithwaite review1 the House of Commons
Commission has recognised that a more strategic approach to
resource planning and priorities is needed.
It has therefore adopted a strategic
plan with objectives for the period 2001-2006 that recognise the
need to develop, adapt and improve. In particular it seeks:
The Board is in the process of developing
attainable objectives under each of these headings.
- to provide services that meet
the changing needs of the House and its Members as efficiently
and effectively as possible; and to develop mechanisms to ensure
that this happens;
manage the parliamentary estate in such a way as to provide
Members, their staff and staff of the House with a safe, secure,
modern and efficient working environment, within the constraints
imposed by the availability of resources and the nature of
ensure that House of Commons processes of corporate management
comply with the highest standards of public sector governance;
achieve demonstrable value for money in every aspect of the
be demonstrably committed to employment best practice and
diversity, providing the House with a motivated and committed
workforce which has the specialist skills to meet its current
and changing needs;
improve public understanding and knowledge of the work of
the House and to increase its accessibility, subject to the
requirements of security;
support the business processes of the House at all levels
by developing and maintaining an information infrastructure
that is unified, consistent, seamless, and easily accessed
by, and appropriate to the needs of, the various user communities;
identify areas where service levels might be improved by the
option of electronic delivery and, where appropriate, produce
Overall consumption of resources
The House of Commons Commission believes that simultaneous pressures
to improve office facilities in the older buildings of the parliamentary
estate and to upgrade information technology and systems to facilitate
the work of Members and their staff, together with the need to
make further improvements to visitor access and facilities, mean
that additional investments in infrastructure will be needed during
the planning period. However, the Commission has asked the Board
of Management to limit the additional cash requirement to not
more than £10m over five years.
about the House Administration
18. The Braithwaite
report emphasised the need for better information about the way
the House Administration is run, and this is something to which
we attach particular importance. In addition to the wealth of
information in our Annual Reports, pages on the Parliamentary
Intranet now describe the role and work of the Commission, Board
of Management and the other elements of the House Administration,
and links take the user to relevant publications. We now also
publish interim reports on our work every three months or so.
When the redesigned Parliamentary website goes live shortly, this
information will be available to the general public on the Internet.
For the information of those at Westminster, organisation charts
with photographs of key people in the House Administration are
now posted throughout the Estate.
Finance and Services Committee and the Domestic Committees
The Finance and Services Committee has responsibility for detailed
scrutiny of the House's budget. This year, for the first time,
that scrutiny is linked to examination of the detailed work programme
in support of the Strategic Plan. More generally, we welcome the
development of the Committee's role in analysing and advising
on a wide range of proposals which come to us for decision. The
Committee's membership includes the Chairmen of each of the Domestic
The Domestic Committees (Accommodation and Works, Administration,
Broadcasting, Catering and Information) have continued to provide
advice and to act as a channel for the views of Members about
House services. We are very grateful for the contribution they
The Committee's Annual Report to us appears on pages 93 to 95.
The Committee, chaired by the Rt Hon Eric Forth, a member of the
Commission, has focused on risk management, contingency planning
and value for money. It has also monitored developments in audit,
and shortly after the end of the year under review recommended
to us that, in line with the conclusions of the report Holding
to Account by Lord Sharman
of Redlynch, its membership should be entirely non-executive (although
the Accounting Officer and the Director of Finance and Administration
should continue to attend meetings); and that an additional external
member should be appointed. We have approved those recommendations,
and we have appointed Mr David Taylor FCA, one of the Charity
Commissioners, as the new member of the Committee.
Personnel and people issues
We are committed to developing and supporting a diverse House
Service, in which all staff are encouraged to contribute and to
reach their full potential. During the year there have been a
number of initiatives including: an audit of the staff appraisal
system for quality and objectivity of reporting; a review of accessibility
for blind and partially sighted people; and a greater emphasis
on equal opportunities in the induction course for new staff.
In addition, the childcare voucher scheme for staff has been extended
to cover school holidays and the summer holiday play scheme has
been made permanent.
We look to the Board of Management to give a high priority to
equality and diversity issues. In particular, we would like to
see an increase in women and people from ethnic minorities at
more senior levels.
We congratulate all the departments of the House on achieving
individual accreditation as Investors in People, and we welcome
the plan to seek accreditation for the House Service as a whole
by early 2003. This will help to demonstrate the House's commitment
to good management and communication, and to the training and
development of staff so that they can contribute most effectively.
Negotiations on pay and conditions of service, and consultations
on personnel issues, were conducted through the recognised unions,
the Whitley Committee and its Sub-Committees.
Following the full occupation of Portcullis House and its successful
integration into parliamentary life, the planned rationalisation
of the Parliamentary Estate will be complete when the refurbishment
of the Norman Shaw South building is finished at the end of 2002.
We have accepted the advice of the Accommodation and Works Committee
that Members and their staff should occupy this building, which
will achieve the strategic aim of all Members being accommodated
in the Palace or on the northern part of the Estate. We expect
up to 65 Members and 87 of their staff to be housed in Norman
Shaw South. Additional accommodation released in Norman Shaw North
will house 14 Members and 14 Members' staff.
Select Committee staffs which were to have occupied Norman Shaw
South will now remain in expanded accommodation in 7 Millbank,
adapted to provide good long-term working conditions for these
staff supporting the House's key scrutiny functions.
We look forward to the results of the comprehensive Accommodation
Review being carried out on behalf of the Board of Management
by the Serjeant at Arms and external experts. This review, which
among other things will examine how efficiently space is used,
will help formulate the House's accommodation strategy for the
technology and systems
The reports of the Board of Management and individual departments
indicate both the scale of the work in progress, and the demand
for services the latter evident from a 20% increase over
the year in the number of users of the Parliamentary Data and
Video Network (up by around 1,000 to 5,172) and a 44% increase
in e-mail traffic (now running at over one million items a month).
Major projects include migration to Microsoft's Windows 2000 and
Active Directory Services, and a virtual local area network for
critical services such as the Official Report and the Vote Bundle.
Two other projects, for which plans are well advanced, deserve
particular mention: Parliamentary Information Management Services
(PIMS) and the House Administrative Information System (HAIS).
PIMS will build on the existing POLIS system to provide a much
wider and more structured range of information to users at Westminster
and elsewhere. HAIS will provide a single replacement for existing
financial and human resource management systems, and will be accessible
by a wider range of users in the House Administration, thus meeting
an important recommendation of the Braithwaite Report.
We appreciate the substantial task performed by the Parliamentary
Communications Directorate following the House's agreement that
each Member should be entitled to centrally provided computer
equipment on loan for Parliamentary use. Requests from 599 Members
have now been processed, and 1,300 installations have taken place,
about half at Westminster and half elsewhere.
The events of 2001-02 demonstrated the need for flexibility on
the part of a Parliamentary administration. Following the events
of 11 September 2001, the House was recalled three times during
the summer recess, at a time when major works and maintenance
are concentrated in order to minimise disruption at other times
of the year. At the end of the year Westminster Hall had to be
prepared in the course of a few days for the Lying in State of
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, and the House was
recalled to mark the occasion. On each of these occasions the
efficiency of the arrangements was a credit to all those involved.
A different sort of flexibility will be required to adapt to changes
in the House's working patterns and methods. It seems likely that
changes will be proposed both to the House's sitting hours and
to the annual pattern of sittings. If implemented, this will have
considerable implications not only for the provision of a wide
range of services but also for the working patterns of House departments
in delivering those services. We will work with the Board of Management
to support any changes which the House may approve, while also
having well in mind our obligations as a good employer.
and access for the public
This is one of the four core tasks in our strategic plan, and
reflects our view of the importance of spreading knowledge and
understanding of the House and its work among those it serves
and represents. Much is already under way: the work of the Education
Unit with schools and teachers (including an award-winning video
and website); the summer opening of the Palace in August and September,
now a permanent feature; better design of Select Committee Reports,
with improved public information about Committee work and meetings;
a pilot webcasting scheme covering debates in both Chambers, Westminster
Hall and a range of Standing and Select Committees; a redesign
of the www.parliament.uk
website; and the opening of the Jubilee Visitor Café.
Work has just begun on a feasibility study for an information
and visitor centre for Parliament. We would like to see facilities
at Westminster at least the equal of those in other Parliaments;
and we hope that this major project will proceed quickly. In the
nearer term, we want to see a more co-ordinated approach to visitors
and tours, with an emphasis on the modern role of Parliament as
a working legislature as well as on the Palace as a place of history
Better access to Parliament must of course take account of the
continuing requirements of security throughout the Parliamentary
Estate. This has been a high priority for many years, for the
protection of those who work here as well as for the many thousands
of constituents, visitors and others whose business brings them
to Westminster. Following the events of 11 September 2001, the
House's contingency planning has been improved, and security arrangements
have been further strengthened. The House authorities seek as
always to minimise the inconvenience that is caused, and we are
confident that all those affected will fully understand why these
precautions are necessary.
The Finance and Services Committee has agreed a financial framework
for the works of art budget under the control of the Advisory
Committee on Works of Art. This is to provide greater transparency
and accountability following our authorisation of an increase
in the general acquisitions budget from £50,000 to £100,000
for the financial year 2002-03. In 2001-02 expenditure from the
general acquisitions budget was £50,000, and that for the
Portcullis House acquisitions budget (which will end after 2002-03)
Two major commissions were completed and unveiled during the year:
the series of large tapestries on parliamentary themes for the
Committee Rooms in Portcullis House, and the triptych of portraits
of party leaders during the 2001 General Election Campaign. A
marble statue of the Rt Hon the Baroness Thatcher, commissioned
by the Advisory Committee on Works of Art, has been completed
by the sculptor Neil Simmons.
The Advisory Committee is keen to improve public awareness of
works of art in the Palace of Westminster, and we will draw on
their advice in pursuing our strategic aim of improving public
access to, and understanding of, Parliament.
The House already performs well by comparison with the Government
targets of 25% recycling by 2005, 30% by 2010 and 33% by 2015.
In 2001-02 some 34% of waste was recycled and 100% was recovered
(ie either recycled or used to generate electricity). From the
start of financial year 2002-03 a system of monthly reporting
on recycling by category, including paper, glass, lamp bulbs and
tubes, and oil, will be introduced. Further information on this,
and on future House targets, will be contained in our next Annual
1 The Comission employs all staff
of the House with the exception of the Clerk, Clerk Assistant, Serjeant
at Arms, and Mr Speaker's personal staff. Back