The Department of the Serjeant
at Arms sees its purpose as:
provide the best possible service to Members and all those
who work in or visit the House of Commons, on the authority
of the Speaker and within the regulations of the House".
In addition to his ceremonial
duties, the Serjeant at Arms, as Executive Officer of the
House, is responsible to the Speaker for all accommodation,
with associated services, for IT and communications, and for
security and access to the Palace of Westminster and the parliamentary
outbuildings. Many of the services are managed on behalf of
both Houses. The Department is structured into four Directorates:
Operations, Estates, Works Services and Communications, each
led by a Director. The Director of Operations is also the
Deputy Serjeant at Arms.
During the review period,
the Department has focused on five over-arching goals:
- to strengthen security;
- to improve facilities and
- to develop information systems;
- to improve and expand PDVN
- to strengthen management
of departmental resources.
Significant progress has
been made in each of these areas by all sections of the Department.
A major feature this year
has been the Braithwaite Review of the Governance, Control
and Systems of the Department. The agreed recommendations
from the report are being implemented in order to strengthen
management and control, in line with the House of Commons
The Serjeant at Arms takes
the lead in a number of important activities relating to information
systems, contingency planning, operation of the Line of Route
and accommodation. These are mentioned in this section, but
because of their corporate nature are dealt with at length
in the Board of Management chapter.
The contribution that the
Department makes to the life and work of the House covers
a wide variety of undertakings. It is essential that the quality
of support and infrastructure provided is soundly based in
all the aspects described above. This is reflected in the
Department's aim to provide "the best possible service".
Plans and achievements
TO STRENGTHEN SECURITY
The security review that
followed the events of 11 September 2001 resulted in a range
of improvements to the physical and structural security arrangements
of the House of Commons. The Serjeant is leading the work
on contingency planning already described in the Board of
Management chapter (page 22).
Strengthened Structural Security Measures
A comprehensive project has started in New Palace Yard for
completion by the summer of 2002, involving the installation
of road blockers and barriers to prevent access by unauthorised
or suspect vehicles. The vehicle search point will be moved
to a safer location and new facilities will be provided to
permit safe access by passholders on foot.
Measures have been taken
to protect those working in or visiting the Palace and to
provide early warning of any threat. The CCTV coverage has
been reviewed, and enhanced by improved and additional cameras.
More card readers have been installed on doors throughout
the estate to protect access.
Strengthened Human Security Measures
The prime elements of visible
human security are the police and security officers who are
provided on contract by the Metropolitan Police. Their total
numbers have been increased by the provision of specialist
firearms officers who patrol vulnerable locations on the perimeter
of and within the House of Commons. The existing police and
security establishment has provided more comprehensive checks
on vehicles and visitors, as well as carrying out random checks
on passes and passholders. The pass system is a fundamental
element of parliamentary security, and the Speaker has endorsed
the expectation that Members, as well as all staff, should
The threat of contamination from anthrax and other biological
material has required increased vigilance on the part of all
those who work in Parliament. The Royal Mail staff have been
concerned to screen all incoming mail, and the police have
adopted effective procedures to deal with any potential contamination
incidents and there have been many this year.
Recruitment Of IT Security Officer
The Braithwaite Review recommended
that a new and separate IT security post should be created,
serving both Houses of Parliament. The requirement for this
post has achieved a higher profile in recent months with
the threat of international terrorism, the prevalence of
computer viruses and the need to prevent computer hacking.
The recruitment process for the new post has now commenced,
following consultation with the House of Lords and external
agencies, and an appointment will be made soon.
TO IMPROVE FACILITIES AND
Summer Opening Of The Line Of Route
The 2001 Line of Route opening was a considerable success,
as already noted in the Board of Management chapter (page
24). The two Houses have agreed that the summer opening of
the Line of Route should be made permanent and a feasibility
and cost/benefit study be undertaken into the establishment
of a permanent office to book and run tours. The Serjeant's
Department is taking the lead in this activity.
The system of an agreed deficit,
funded by the UK taxpayer through the House of Commons Vote,
will be discontinued. From 2002, ticket prices for visitors
will be set at a level to recoup the cost of running the summer
Accommodation Strategy And Review
As has already been noted in the Board of Management chapter
(page 27), the Board has invited the Serjeant to commission
an accommodation review of House of Commons areas of the Parliamentary
Estate. The review will be conducted in two phases. In the
first phase information will be gathered on how space is used.
This will include allocation, occupancy rates and style of
usage. Benchmark information will be developed on current
best practice space utilisation within other parliamentary
and government offices and some appropriate private organisations.
In the second phase, options will be developed for a future
House of Commons space strategy for the period 2003 to 2008.
Central Provision Of Computer Equipment For Members
In July 2001 the Parliamentary Communications Directorate
(PCD) commenced a major new undertaking when it was agreed
by the House that each Member of Parliament would be entitled
to centrally provided computer equipment free of charge, on
loan for Parliamentary use only. The provision allows for
up to one laptop, three desktop PCs, two CD-Rewriters and
either one or two printers depending on the specification
required. Each Member may distribute the provision as necessary
between Westminster and their constituency. PCD undertook
to implement this major project almost immediately, with the
services of a third party supplier, and wrote to newly elected
Members during July. In August PCD extended the supply to
all the remaining Members of Parliament.
Requests have been processed
from 599 Members, and over 1,300 separate installations have
taken place, split evenly between Westminster and remote locations.
By the end of the financial year PCD were processing the final
Improvements To Accommodation
project on three floors of the Commons Court block has provided
27 Members' offices with windows, serviced and furnished to
the standard of new accommodation elsewhere on the Parliamentary
Jubilee Visitor Café
The Jubilee Visitor
Café provides refreshment and lavatory facilities for
visitors to Parliament, with a small area where the proceedings
of both Houses are televised and information is displayed.
A lift has been installed to take disabled visitors up to
the Chamber where the House meets in Westminster Hall or to
the Jubilee Room.
St Stephen's Tower
This project involved the renovation and re-modelling of offices
on four floors above St Stephen's Entrance. The accommodation
at principal and first floor levels has been restored to the
'fine rooms' standard that existed prior to bomb damage during
the Second World War. The second and third floor office accommodation,
being less ornate, has been refurbished to the normal standard
of fully serviced Members' accommodation.
Restoratin work in St. Stephen's Tower
Norman Shaw South
The project to refurbish
Norman Shaw South started in early 2001 for completion in
autumn 2002, and occupation in early 2003. The recent decision
by the House of Commons Commission that Norman Shaw South
should be occupied by Members and their staff rather than
the Clerk's Department has led to some minor design changes.
7 Millbank works project
Following the move of Members and their staff to Portcullis
House, three floors of 7 Millbank (the third, fourth and fifth)
were refurbished during the spring and summer of 2001. These
have been occupied by the Department of Finance and Administration
(which moved from 3 Dean's Yard, now vacated by the House),
elements of the Official Report, the Occupational Health and
Welfare Service, and the Parliamentary Communications Directorate
(which moved from 10 Great George Street, now vacated by the
House). In addition, a dedicated training/meeting/interview
suite was created on the fifth floor. Some areas were modified
to create an open plan layout in order to achieve greater
occupancy levels. The scheme has been extremely well received
by those occupying the offices and an independent post-project
review has confirmed that these works offered good value for
The occupation of
7 Millbank by departments of the House involved a complex
planning exercise in order to ensure that the significant
changes to communications and systems infrastructures were
managed alongside the logistical and human aspects of the
moves, with no interruption to operational responsibilities.
The key financial systems and services belonging to the Department
of Finance and Administration were relocated without disruption.
Good team work and early planning, including additional demands
on resources arising from the later than anticipated general
election, ensured that all elements were in place as required,
within the allocated budget.
TO DEVELOP INFORMATION SYSTEMS
Electronic Signs In The Palace Of Westminster
In February 2001 the Administration
Committee recommended that electronic signs should become
permanent in Central Lobby. A joint project was established
with the House of Lords. The results of the first phase of
the project can be seen in Central Lobby where information
is displayed about public sittings of House of Commons and
House of Lords Committees. Planning has commenced to install
similar electronic screens inside St Stephen's entrance. The
next phase of the project will be to introduce electronic
signs on the Committee Corridors in the Palace.
The House Administrative Information System (HAIS) Project
The Serjeant at Arms is a joint sponsor of the HAIS project
with the Director of Finance and Administration. The Department's
involvement grew from the need for much better financial and
staff information to enable the Serjeant at Arms to exercise
effective control of his resources. Additionally, the PHAROAH
system, which provides the core IS support to the Estates
and Works Services Directorates' operations, is nearing the
end of its life and the Department has a requirement to improve
its project management capability.
A costed proposal for meeting
the Department's requirement using a combination of AGRESSO
(which forms the HAIS software) and ARCHIBUS (which forms
the core of the Department's computer aided facilities management
system) has been received. Timings for the delivery of the
various elements of the Department's requirement within the
overall HAIS programme are now being agreed.
Business Systems Group
The Braithwaite review recommended that the Department's information
systems should be co-ordinated by a Business Systems Group
consisting of a Business Systems Manager from each Directorate,
one of whom would be designated as Business Systems Co-ordinator,
and the Information Systems Manager from PCD. The purpose
of the Business Systems Group is to:
produce a co-ordinated
three-year strategic plan, and annual IS plans, for the
report to the Serjeant at Arms on the progress of implementing
IS plans within the Directorates; and
- identify ways that technology can
improve and support services provided by the Department.
TO IMPROVE AND EXPAND PDVN SERVICES
During the year the Parliamentary
Communications Directorate (PCD) developed a strategy for
the replacement of the current business operating systems
and directory service within Parliament. It was decided that,
where practicable, all desktops connected to the Parliamentary
Data and Video Network (PDVN) should be upgraded and migrated
to the Windows 2000 Operating System and that the current
Network Operating System for controlling and managing the
PDVN should be migrated to Microsoft's Active Directory Services
Implementation of the Windows
2000 strategy will occur during the course of 2002 and 2003.
The new environment will offer users up to date technologies
with improved stability, flexibility and security, at lower
cost. Savings will be achieved through reductions in licensing
costs and the consolidation of servers.
Enhanced Connection To Internet/Improved Remote Access
An interim upgrade to the capacity of the PDVN Internet link
from 2mb to 4mb was completed in the spring of 2001, temporarily
easing pressure on this service. However, it remained clear
that far greater capacity and a higher level of service management
was required to support growing demands in this area, including
SSRB recommendations to improve Members' remote access to
the PDVN. On that basis, plans for a step-increase to 16mb
were approved during 2001 and are currently being implemented
following a competitive tendering exercise. The new connection,
which it is hoped to bring into service during the second
quarter of 2002, will allow active bandwidth management as
well as further capacity increases if required. Implementation
will also underpin the provision of Virtual Private Network
connections, which will allow Members to connect to the PDVN
using broadband technologies as well as conventional dial-up
The number of accounts on the Parliamentary network has increased
significantly during the year. The primary reason for this
has been the implementation of the central provision of computer
equipment. The graph below details the number of e-mail and
network accounts throughout the calendar year. By April 2002
the number of PDVN users totalled 5,172, an increase of around
1,000 users during the year.
The graph below details the e-mail traffic during the calendar
year, including mail to and from the Internet. During the
year over 11 million e-mails were processed, an increase of
23% over the previous year. The Parliamentary Internet received
over 7 million visits and the Parliamentary Intranet received
over 800,000 visits during the year.
TO STRENGTHEN MANAGEMENT OF DEPARTMENTAL RESOURCES
The Serjeant at Arms commissioned
Janet Levin Associates to carry out a survey among staff in
the Department in November 2001. A summary report has been
sent individually to all staff with a covering letter from
the Serjeant at Arms and the full report has been sent to
senior managers across the Department. All staff have access
to the full report, which in general terms was positive about
progress made since 1998.
The Serjeant at Arms has
published the three main areas for action that he will personally
take forward to deal with issues identified by the survey.
Heads of Directorates/Units are now working with their senior
managers to identify their own action plans.
The Board of Management has instructed departments to include
risk management in all their planning processes in order to
minimise the risk of failing to achieve strategic objectives.
The Serjeant at Arms has appointed Risk Sponsors from each
Directorate to identify the Department's key generic risks.
For each risk, factors contributory to failure were examined
and assessed and controls and mitigating actions to minimise
failure were identified. Performance indicators and measures
were also identified that will warn management when further
action is needed. Mitigating actions have been included in
the business plan. The generic risks affecting the Department
that have been agreed by the Serjeant's Management Team (SMT)
breach in physical
to the legislative process;
recruit, retain and motivate staff with appropriate skills
and knowledge; and
probity, rigour and risk management in the procurement
These will be reviewed quarterly by the Departmental Risk
Sponsors Group and any proposals for revision will be submitted
to the SMT for approval.
In addition to this, a cost
related risk management process is used in all works projects.
The Review Of The Serjeant At Arms' Department
Following the Serjeant at Arms' agreement to the recommendations
derived from a review of the Department conducted by a team
led by Mr Michael Braithwaite, work began in the early part
of 2001 on the process of implementing a purchaser/provider
division of the Parliamentary Works Directorate and hence
the formation of the Parliamentary Estates and Works Services
Directorates. The new arrangements for the Estates and Works
Services functions were adopted in the spring of 2001, including
the revised financial controls and responsibilities. This
was carried out in a phased manner in order not to jeopardise
the summer 2001 works programme. New Service Level Agreements
were agreed and endorsed by the Serjeant at Arms and Black
Rod on behalf of the two Houses.
An essential feature of the
recommendations was the centralisation and increased professional
impact of the central support services (finance, procurement,
human resources and IS/IT) which are delivered to all Directorates.
This resulted in the establishment of the Serjeant's Finance
Unit (SFU) and the creation of a new post of Head of Finance,
reporting directly to the Serjeant at Arms and responsible
for finance and associated staff across the Department. The
recruitment of a Head of Procurement and the development of
cross-departmental procurement procedures have strengthened
procurement expertise. The Serjeant's Human Resources Unit
(SHRU) was formed to include all the Department's human resources
staff, who now report to the DEO through an HR Manager.
The Operations Directorate
and PCD have been reviewed during the year. Management responsibilities
in the Operations Directorate have been rationalised and an
Accommodation Services Unit has been formed to manage the
accommodation provided to Members and others, the delivery
of office and accommodation services and the cleaning services
for both Houses. The review of PCD was delayed due to the
very high workload on staff in that Directorate and recommendations
were not made until October 2001. These recommendations were
far-reaching. In outline they include a number which focused
on PCD itself to reflect its changing and growing responsibilities:
the organisational structure;
where necessary changing or refining the governance arrangements,
to ensure line responsibilities are clear and accountability
is matched to those responsibilities;
the staff model used within PCD; and
strategic and day to day planning and budgeting activities
and programme and project management.
There are also Parliament-wide
recommendations, which are subject to agreement with stakeholders
outside the Serjeant at Arms' Department:
of the management of IT infrastructure by PCD;
rationalisation and, where appropriate, upgrade of servers;
the centralisation and/or
integration of Help Desk and Field Engineering services.
These recommendations have
been accepted in principle by the PCD Programme Board, which
contains senior representatives of both Houses, and they are
now being taken forward.
Improved Management Information/Monthly Management Report
The Serjeant at Arms as Head of Department requires sufficient
management information to enable him to monitor key areas
of risk and performance and hence help him to meet his corporate
responsibilities. Large steps have been made in improving
management information by the creation of the Serjeant at
Arms' Monthly Management Report.