Annual Report and Accounts 1998-99

Part II - Office Reports

Parliament Office and Black Rod's Department: Organisation Chart


1. The House of Lords administration (excluding staff of the political parties or individual Peers) numbers 353 staff. The Accounting Officer and, in accordance with the Parliamentary Corporate Bodies Act 1992, the Corporate Officer of the House of Lords is the Clerk of the Parliaments, Michael Davies. Staff are divided into two Departments: the Parliament Office under the Clerk of the Parliaments and Black Rod's Department under the Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod, General Sir Edward Jones. Staff salaries and employment costs in 1998-99, including those for Refreshment Department staff, totalled £7.43m.

2. The Clerk of the Parliaments is assisted by two Clerks at the Table. The Clerk Assistant, Paul Hayter, is responsible to the Clerk of the Parliaments for the Minutes of Proceedings of the House and the preparation of the Order Paper containing future business. He is also responsible for the Legislation Office, whose activities and expenditure are recorded on page 26. Michael Pownall, the Reading Clerk, is also Principal Finance Officer. Expenditure by the Clerk of the Parliaments and Table Clerks in 1998-99 was £733,001 compared with £865,628 in 1997-98. The Fourth Clerk at the Table (Judicial) and Registrar of Lords' Interests, James Vallance White, heads the Judicial Office, whose activities and expenditure are recorded on page 25.

Aim and Objectives of the Administration

3. The House of Lords administration has the following aim and key objectives:

The aim is to provide a service of high quality to enable the House and its Members to carry out fully their parliamentary and judicial functions, and to give value for money.

The following key objectives support the aim:

Accountant's Office
(Accountant: C Preece)

1  Purpose

The Office provides a financial and accounting service for the House, including the Refreshment Department. It advises budgetholders on financial matters and provides information to enable them to carry out their responsibilities under the devolved financial management arrangements. It pays staff salaries, departmental general expenses and other costs in accordance with proper authorisation. It is responsible for the administration and monitoring of the House of Lords Administration and Works Services Votes and the preparation of the public expenditure and estimate submissions for those Votes.

2  Organisation

The Accountant's Office has a staff of 11, one of whom is located in the Refreshment Department. This is an increase in the complement of one over last year. The additional temporary post was required in connection with the introduction of Resource Accounting and Budgeting. Two members of the Office hold professional accounting qualifications, and a further 4 are undertaking training towards this goal.

3  Activities and Financial Performance

Work continued in preparation for the introduction of Resource Accounting and Budgeting. In close consultation with the House of Commons, valuations have been obtained for most assets, including buildings and furniture. An asset register for items purchased from the Administration Vote has been compiled.

The original budget for the Office in 1998-99 was £285,100, subsequently increased by virement to £325,120 to take account of increased staff and training costs. Actual expenditure totalled £318,702 (£389,591 in 1997-98); the decrease was due to the purchase of a replacement computer system in 1997-98.

The Office is also responsible for the administration of the Peers' Reimbursement Allowance Scheme. A total of 7,174 claims for expenses from Lords were paid in 1998-99 (4,938 in 1997-98). The budget for 1998-99, including a supplementary estimate, was for £9,541,000; actual expenditure totalled £9,487,021 (£6,578,725 in 1997-98) (see also page 14, paragraph 59). The underspend was due to fewer sittings of the House than anticipated in the period December 1998 to February 1999.

4  Future Activities

In connection with the introduction of Resource Accounting and Budgeting, final accounts for 1998- -99 will be produced in both cash and accruals format. The Resource Account for 1998-99 will be prepared on a ``dry run'' basis for inspection by the National Audit Office in preparation for 1999-2000, the first year for which fully audited Resource Accounts are to be published. A Resource Budget for the House of Lords, based on the cash budget for 1999-2000, will be compiled and discussions with the Treasury and the National Audit Office on outstanding policy and technical issues will continue.

Committee Office
(Clerk of Committees: D R Beamish)

1  Purpose

The Office provides select committees with procedural and legal advice and the administrative support necessary to fulfil the committees' orders of reference.

2  Organisation

The work of the European Communities and Science and Technology Committees and any ad hoc select committees is supported by a unified Committee Office with 23 permanent staff (9 Clerks, a Legal Adviser and Legal Assistant to the European Communities Committee, a Specialist Assistant to the Science and Technology Committee, and 11 secretarial, executive and clerical staff). One of the 23 posts is on a job-share basis. Each sub-committee and committee is served by a clerk and a personal secretary. Both sessional committees regularly appoint specialist advisers for particular enquiries.

3  Activities and Financial Performance

A summary of the work of the European Communities Committee, the Science and Technology Committee and two ad hoc committees appointed during the year is given in Part I (paragraphs 21 to 23).

The European Communities Committee, which operated primarily through its six sub-committees, made 19 reports to the House. Lord Tordoff continued as its Chairman. Major reports by the Committee included those on ``The European Central Bank: will it work?'', the Community Patent and the Patent System in Europe, the reform of the Structural Funds and the Cohesion Fund, airline competition, the TACIS programme of assistance to countries of the former Soviet Union, European Community regulation of genetic modification in agriculture, ``Future Financing of the EU: who pays and how?'', and 2 reports on aspects of the Schengen agreement on free movement of persons.

Work is in hand to implement the recommendations of the Staff Adviser for a significant increase in staff (see paragraph 25 above). Shortage of accommodation will be a problem. A decision has been made in principle that the Office should move to 7 Old Palace Yard in the summer of 2001; this will offer slightly more floor space than the Office has at present.

In November 1998 the Office changed its word processing program from WordPerfect 5.1 for DOS to Microsoft Word 97 for Windows. Several committee reports have been successfully produced using the new program.

Budget provision in 1998-99 was £1,219,197; actual expenditure was £1,218,913 (£1,179,644 in 1997-98).

4  Future Activities

Further committees to undertake pre-legislative scrutiny are likely to be appointed.

The Committee on the Monetary Policy Committee of the Bank of England will complete its work in the summer of 1999. The Liaison Committee will make a recommendation on what ad hoc committee should follow it.

The Government have indicated a wish to appoint a Committee (possibly a Joint Committee) on Human Rights, and a Joint Committee on House of Lords Reform.

Challenges for the coming year include the implementation of the recommendations of the Staff Adviser; preparation for the implications which devolution and reform of the House may have for committee work; and development of expertise in the use of the new software recently introduced, in particular with a view to making greater use of the Internet.

Computer Office
(Computer Officer: J O'Meara)

1  Purpose

The Office provides support and expertise to enable Members and staff to take full advantage of Information Technology in discharging their functions. The Office supports the development of strategic approaches to allow full exploitation of technological advances.

2  Organisation

The Computer Office has a staff of 7: a Computer Officer, a Computer Development Manager, a Computer Services Manager, 3 Executive Officers (for Lords and staff training and for computer support) and a Computer Assistant. 5 staff changes occurred during the year.

3  Activities and Financial Performance

Access to the Internet, the Parliamentary Intranet and electronic mail services remain the most popular facilities on the Parliamentary Data and Video Network (PDVN). Problems with access to information stored on CD-ROMs managed by the Libraries of both Houses were resolved during the year and the new service is efficient and easy to use.

Demand for connection to the network has remained high and 119 new PCs were loaned to Lords during the year, of which 35 were replacements for old models and 84 were supplied to new users. 183 individual training sessions were conducted with Lords. A total of 1,492 calls for support from Lords and staff were also dealt with.

Microsoft Outlook 98 software replaced GroupWise for electronic mail services on all PCs connected to the PDVN. The new software for Remote Access users (mainly Lords) started in April 1999 and will be completed before the Summer recess.

Work continued to ensure that the House will not experience malfunctioning of computer equipment during the transition to Year 2000. The Novell and WordPerfect system used to prepare Hansard was replaced by a Windows NT and Microsoft Office system to ensure Year 2000 compliance. This took place during February and March 1999, entering live operation immediately after the Easter recess. Speech recognition software was piloted with a small group of Lords and offices. A review of progress will be conducted early in the coming year.

The original budget for 1998-99 was £1,121,000 (£1,024,660 in 1997-98), subsequently increased by virement to £1,242,013 to take account of the cost of the high number of PCs loaned to Lords. Out- turn expenditure was £1,241,746 (£1,113,954 in 1997-98).

4  Future Activities

The delivery of training using in-house facilities will be enhanced by the appointment of a dedicated IT trainer. Staff will be trained to make best use of the facilities offered by the integrated office and electronic mail software.

The pilot document management system in Black Rod's Office will be monitored to provide guidance on future deployment to other offices. The use of speech recognition equipment will be expanded in the compilation of Hansard.

Comprehensive testing of equipment and software will continue, to ensure that the millennium problem will not impede the functioning of the House. The file and print services will be transferred from Novell to Microsoft NT and the servers and applications tested in summer 1999. A three month moratorium will be imposed on new computer developments after September 1999 to allow full resources to be devoted to ensuring millennium compliance.

The Computer Office will develop service agreements with the other offices of the House and will support the development of a strategy for the use of IT over the next five years.

Establishment Office
(Establishment Officer: R H Walters)

1  Purpose

The Office provides a personnel service for all House of Lords staff. The responsibilities of the Office include recruitment of staff, grading and other conditions of service, pay negotiation and authorisation, occupational health safety and welfare, and superannuation.

2  Organisation

The Establishment Office has 8 members of staff, 2 of whom work exclusively on superannuation and related matters. The Establishment Officer is Clerk to the Refreshment Sub-Committee and is responsible, on behalf of the Clerk of the Parliaments, for supervising the Refreshment Department. He is also Clerk to the Finance and Staff Sub-Committee.

3  Activities and Financial Performance

A pay settlement for 1998 was negotiated with staff representatives. The Staff Handbook was revised to incorporate new provisions on working time, use of the Internet, and staff travel and subsistence. A staff appointment was made under the Government's ``New Deal'' initiative. Staff car parking facilities were reduced and reorganised. Changes in working practices, staffing levels and grading and night duty payments were agreed in respect of Hansard staff. The Office was involved in week long visits from senior staff of the personnel and training divisions of the Russian Duma and Federation Council; and from the Head of Human Resources of the Canadian Senate.

The Office was involved in the recruitment of 47 new staff; 13 internal appointments boards; preparing pensions authorisations for 38 retirements or resignations; and calculating 89 worked responses to enquiries, estimates etc. relating to pensions. Net expenditure by the Establishment Office was £431,886. Gross expenditure on superannuation was £1,313,325. Superannuation contributions collected for family benefits totalled £140,548. (Equivalent figures in 1997-98 were £384,172, £1,159,990 and £126,232.)

4  Future Activities

Journal and Information Office
(Clerk of the Journals: B P Keith)

1  Purpose

The Office compiles the Journals of the House, the authoritative record of proceedings, and maintains other records of business and membership. It also provides procedural support to other offices. The House of Lords information service is located in this Office and produces information material about the role and work of the House and manages and advises on contacts with the press and media.

2  Organisation

A review of the Office during 1997-98 resulted in its restructuring to provide:

3  Activities and Financial Performance

  • A major activity was the servicing of the Joint Committee on Parliamentary Privilege (see page 9, paragraph 24).
  • The reorganised information service began in September 1998. A new telephone system enabled a more effective service to be provided and up to July 1999 some 20,000 calls were dealt with. The Pinochet case, alone, accounted for about 1,000 calls between January and March 1999. Interest in reform of the House has also contributed to increased activity.
  • New customised software now provides improved access to a wider range of information about the work and membership of the House.
  • Information about the role and work of the House, produced by the Information Officer, was circulated to over 4,000 secondary schools throughout the United Kingdom, and demand, particularly from Peers, rose significantly.
  • Wide press coverage was achieved for select committee reports including those on Cannabis: the scientific and medical evidence and Management of Nuclear Waste.
  • The year was dominated by preparations for the BBC TV film ``Inside the House of Lords'' (see paragraph 51).
  • General information about the House of Lords on the Internet was re-organised, including the provision of illustrated material in 7 foreign languages.
  • The general index to the Journals for 1983-84 to 1992-93 was produced.

Net expenditure was £468,904 compared with £430,736 in 1997-98. The original budget for the Office in 1998-99 was £385,200, subsequently increased by virement to £469,828 to take account of increased staff costs (arising from the restructuring of the Office-see above) and expenditure on computer services and publicity.

4  Future Activities

  • Continuing to implement the recommendations of the 1998 Office Review.
  • Revising the Companion to the Standing Orders to reflect changes resulting from the enactment of the House of Lords Bill.
  • Improving presentation of published information about membership of the House.

Judicial Office

(Fourth Clerk at the Table (Judicial): J A Vallance White)

1  Purpose

The Office enables the House to carry out its judicial functions and provides secretarial and administrative services to the Lords of Appeal.

2  Organisation

The main Office, concerned with the administration of the judicial work of the House, consists of 7 staff. There are 2 Clerks, the Taxing Clerk, 3 executive and clerical staff and 1 full time and 1 shared secretary. The Law Lords' Office, providing secretarial services to the Lords of Appeal, has 6 full time staff: the Personal Assistant, 4 secretaries, an executive officer and a senior attendant. There are also 2 judicial doorkeepers. An additional secretary is on long-term secondment to the inquiry into the events of ``Bloody Sunday'' chaired by Lord Saville of Newdigate.

The Principal Clerk is also the Registrar of Lords' Interests.

3  Activities and Financial Performance

The number of petitions for leave to appeal surpassed the record set in 1997. More petitions were determined than in previous years, but not enough to prevent the backlog from rising slightly. The number of full appeals determined during the year fell to 60, though an additional 19 appeals had been heard and were awaiting the delivery of judgment. A fuller statistical account is presented in Judicial Statistics, published by the Lord Chancellor's Department.

Petitions for leave to appeal
    Pending at beginning of year
    Presented during year
        of which allowed
        of which refused
    Pending at end of year
    Pending at beginning of year
    Presented during year
    Pending at end of year

The 3 hearings on the question of the immunity of Senator Pinochet put unexpected pressure on the Judicial Office budget, due to the unusual use of a shorthand writer, sound amplification in the committee room and the high demand for copies of the Opinions of the Lords of Appeal. Some £7,500 incurred due to this appeal will be borne on next year's budget.

Overall, the original budget was overspent by 1.3 per cent. The original net budget for the Office in 1998-99 was £122,950 (£170,300 in 1997-98), subsequently increased by virement to £150,040. Total expenditure was £607,737 (£536,881 in 1997-98). This does not include the Law Lords' salaries, which are paid from the Consolidated Fund. Total receipts were £494,435 (£406,542 in 1997-98), 12 per cent higher than predicted, due to an increase in receipts from taxations. In 1998, as in 1997, 17 people applied for, and found themselves entitled to, a waiver of fee due to their financial situation.

4  Future Activities

Several matters will need the attention of the Lords of Appeal after the passing of the Access to Justice Bill, which reforms legal aid and also relates to conditional fee agreements. In addition, consideration is being given to the future impact of the Human Rights Act 1998 on the work of the Law Lords. The Law Lords' Offices are to be cabled for the PDVN in the summer recess 1999 and their computer facilities will be commensurately enhanced. A project to establish a computer database of information relating to proceedings in appeals has been initiated.

Legislation Office
(Clerk Assistant and Clerk of Legislation: P D G Hayter)

The Legislation Office comprises Offices responsible for Public Bills, Private Bills and support for the Chairman of Committees.

Financial Performance

Budget provision for 1998-99 was £755,282 and out-turn expenditure was £731,547. The out-turn for public bills was £486,517 (£450,832 in 1997-98) and for private bills and the Chairman of Committees, net of fee income, was £245,030 (£311,547 in 1997-98). Fee income from private bills was £39,435 (£21,030 in 1997-98).

Public Bills
(Clerk of Public Bills: E C Ollard)

1  Purpose

The Office supervises the passage of public legislation in accordance with the requirements of the House and authorises, on behalf of the Clerk of the Parliaments, the publication of Acts of Parliament and Measures.

2  Organisation

The complement consists of the Clerk Assistant, 2 Clerks, a Higher Executive Officer and an Executive Officer.

3  Activities and Financial Performance

47 public bills received Royal Assent. The Office drafted or assisted in the drafting of 17 bills for private members, and supervised the tabling of 7,231 amendments, of which 3,392 were agreed to by the House.

It was agreed (in conjunction with the authorities in the House of Commons) that the existing contract with The Stationery Office Ltd for the printing of bills and amendments should not be extended beyond 31 March 2000. Accordingly, a tendering process in accordance with EU procurement rules was initiated by notice in the Official Journal in July 1998. The Office has been fully involved in preparing materials for the tendering process and evaluating the expressions of interest.

The working group of officials considering the format of the statute law, chaired by the Clerk Assistant, reported in December 1998, recommending changes in the existing appearance of bills and Acts. The report has been considered by committees in each House and many of the proposals agreed to.

The complement of the Office was increased by the addition of a higher executive officer post.

Consolidation Bills

The Joint Committee met once in the financial year, reporting one bill.

4  Future activities

The Office will continue to develop new methods of applying information technology to its work. It will undertake the necessary preparatory work to ensure that arrangements for printing of bills and amendments under a new contract are robust and appropriate to the needs of the House. It will engage with other users in the replacement of software used for processing legislation and in the implementation of any new format of bills and Acts. It will assist in clarifying and applying the procedures of the House to enable members to perform their legislative functions.

Private Bills and Chairman of Committees' Office
(Clerk of Private Bills and Examiner: Miss F P Tudor)

1  Purpose

The Office supervises the passage of private legislation in accordance with the requirements of the House and supports the Chairman of Committees.

2  Organisation

The complement comprises 6 posts (including 2 part time Counsel who share a post). These include a Clerk who, in addition to her private bill duties, acts as Clerk to the Delegated Powers and Deregulation Committee (and from April-July 1998 acted as Clerk to Sub-Committee A of the European Communities Committee), and a Clerk who acts as Private Secretary to the Chairman of Committees.

3  Activities and Financial Performance

5 private bills received Royal Assent. 10 private bills were deposited in November 1998 (compared to the exceptionally low figure of 2 in the previous year). 3 private bills which had been deposited during the previous session were carried over. 1 opposed bill committee (on the Tamar Bridge Bill) and 3 unopposed bill committees sat. The Committee on the Tamar Bridge Bill considered an instruction and agreed a special report. The Chairman of Committees invited 2 Deputy Chairmen to sit with him during the two-day Unopposed Bill Committee on the London Local Authorities Bill, which had previously been considered by an Opposed Bill Committee.

Delegated Powers and Deregulation Committee

The work of the Committee is described in paragraph 17 (page 7) above. It met 25 times (8 in 1997- - 98), agreed 30 (14) reports on 61 (42) bills, 4 (3) proposals for deregulation orders and 6 (1) draft deregulation orders. The Committee also made a special report.

4  Future Activities

Future activities include publication of the second half of the computerised Index to the Local and Personal Acts, covering the period 1797 to 1849. The Delegated Powers and Deregulation Committee will respond to the Government's consultation paper on proposals to amend the Deregulation and Contracting Out Act 1994.

(Librarian: D L Jones)

1  Purpose

The Library provides research, information and bibliographic services to support the legislative, deliberative and judicial functions of the House of Lords.

2  Organisation

The Library, which serves Members and staff of the House, has 20 permanent and 2 part time staff; 10 of the 15 graduates on the staff hold professional library qualifications.

3  Activities and Financial Performance

Members' use of the Library's research services increased significantly during the year. The total number of research enquiries handled by the Library Clerks increased by 20 per cent. To meet this increased demand for research assistance, an extra Library Clerk was appointed in January 1999. Staff at the Information Desk dealt with 13,276 enquiries (11,598 in 1997-98). 1,901 new titles or new editions were added to the Library's catalogue (2,214 in 1997-98) and 7,094 items were added to the POLIS database (7,374 in 1997-98).

A booklet containing a guide to the Library's services was published during the year, which is primarily intended to supply Members with a brief summary of the services available but also serves as an introduction to the Library for visitors and others interested in the Library's role.

The reclassification of the Library's collection was extended to cover the reference books and the opportunity was taken to edit the reference collection both by adding new titles and disposing of dated titles. Towards the end of the year, a start was made on a shelf-check and survey of the non- legal monographs in the Dewey Collection.

The main achievement in Information Technology was the installation of a new version of the ADVANCE software used for the Library's house-keeping systems. The Library is now able to download catalogue records from other databases via the Internet. This has reduced significantly the amount of secretarial work required for inputting catalogue records. The Library has invested in reference works available on CD-ROM, and the failure to obtain regular network access to these databases was a major problem, especially for the research staff. A solution to this problem became available towards the end of the year.

Total out-turn expenditure was £1,153,068 (£1,105,919 in 1997-98), less income from VAT recoveries and sales of books totalling £19,599 (£14,629 in 1997-98).

4  Future Activities

Future activities include the development of a Library web page on the parliamentary network and web access to the Library's catalogue.

Official Report (Hansard)
(Editor: Mrs M E E C Villiers)

1  Purpose

The Department is responsible for providing a verbatim record of the proceedings of the House and of Grand Committees off the floor.

2  Organisation

The Department of the Official Report has a staff of 40. It is headed by the Editor of Debates and the Deputy Editor and employs 5 Assistant Editors (one post is on a job-share basis), 2 Senior Reporters, 13 Reporters (2 posts are on a job-share basis), an Office Manager, a Higher Personal Secretary, an Executive Officer, a Senior Clerical Officer, 7 Typists and 7 Screen Correctors (1 post in each of the last 2 categories is job-shared). A number of these posts are currently unfilled pending the introduction of new computer-based working methods.

3  Activities and Financial Performance

The year was busier than usual for the Official Report due to the high number of sitting days and the average length of sittings (see paragraphs 7 and 8 above). 160 daily reports and 37 weekly volumes were published. From these, 12 bound volumes will be compiled. The electronic version of Hansard has continued to be published daily on the PDVN and the Internet for internal parliamentary and external public access; and Hansard texts from 14 June 1996 remain available on-line. Earlier years' texts are available on CD-ROM, and this service, which had for some time not been available via the PDVN, is now running satisfactorily.

The original budget for the financial year was £1,719,300. This was subsequently increased by virement to £1,744,844. Out-turn expenditure was £1,743,871, as against £1,597,774 in the previous year. The overspend of 1.4 per cent over the original budget related principally to the increased workload, which has added to running costs as well as to the costs of printing and publishing Hansard. A significant decrease in running costs is expected with the introduction of the new working methods referred to above, although there will be a one-off cost for redundancies and the purchase of computer equipment.

4  Future Activities

The computer system, which was not millennium compliant, was replaced in May 1999. The opportunity will be taken to adopt technology, including a changeover from WordPerfect to Word software, which will allow transfer of the Hansard network to the PDVN when the latter can provide the necessary conditions of security and reliability.

Training of staff throughout the Office is underway and the transition to exclusively computer-based production of Hansard is scheduled to follow in summer 1999. A pilot scheme, run by the Government's Central IT Unit, promises progress towards the long-awaited goal of the electronic transmission of written answers which should bring improvements in speed of production and accuracy.

Overseas Office
(Clerk: D R Beamish)

1  Purpose

The Office facilitates contacts between the House of Lords and overseas parliaments and international assemblies; and provides advice and support to Lords, including the Lord Chancellor, when attending conferences overseas.

2  Organisation

The Office does not have a separate staff. The work is carried out by members of the permanent staff of the Committee Office, in particular the Clerk and a Senior Personal Secretary.

3  Activities and Financial Performance

Many of the activities of the Office during 1998-99 are described in Part I (paragraphs 33 to 36).

Overseas visits by Lords as representatives of the House included participation by 2 Lords Members of the Science and Technology Committee in the 9th annual EUREKA Inter-Parliamentary Conference, held in Lisbon in June 1998.

The Office has provided a modest amount of support for Lord Russell-Johnston in his role as President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. A further link with the Assembly was the continuation, until the end of June 1998, of the secondment of a Clerk to the staff of the Assembly.

Other Clerks attended meetings of the Society of Clerks at the Table in Commonwealth Parliaments in Wellington, New Zealand, and of Canadian Clerks in Victoria, British Columbia, and a Commonwealth Parliamentary Association seminar in Prince Edward Island.

The Overseas Office deals with a wide range of enquiries and communications from overseas parliaments, including letters to the Lord Chancellor as Speaker of the House from Speakers of other Parliaments.

The budget for the Overseas Office in 1998-99 was £361,650; actual expenditure was £288,065 (£215,971 in 1997-98). The underspend was due largely to lower than forecast expenditure on Parliamentary delegations and other assemblies.

Lord Tordoff represented the Lord Chancellor at the European Speakers' Conference in Lisbon on 21 and 22 May 1999.

4  Future Activities

The Staff Adviser recommended strengthening of the Overseas Office to deal with the increased number of visits handled by the Office. From May 1999 a full time post of Visits Co-ordinator has been created. The same report recommended that responsibility for overseas matters should be devolved to the Clerk of the European Communities Committee; implementation of this recommendation is dependent on the recruitment of new staff.

Forthcoming Speakers' Conferences include, in 2000, the Conference of Commonwealth Speakers, to be held in Australia in January, and the Conference of Speakers from Council of Europe countries, to be held in Strasbourg at the invitation of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. These 3 Conferences are biennial. In addition, a special United Nations gathering of Speakers in New York is planned for September 2000.

Printed Paper Office (including Supplies Office)
(Clerk of the Journals: B P Keith)

1  Purpose

The Office is responsible for:

2  Organisation

As in 1997-98, there are 6 posts (excluding the Clerk of the Journals who is budgetholder and responsible for the management of the Office).

3  Activities and Financial Performance

  • A system has been introduced to give effect to recommendations by the Internal Auditor for monitoring and verifying deliveries of Parliamentary papers from The Stationery Office Ltd.
  • The cost of office supplies is now met directly from the ordering department and no longer from the Supplies Office budget. This should strengthen budgetary discipline.
  • Special formula 100 per cent recycled paper has been introduced for all House stationery.
  • Significant reductions have been made in the cost of photocopy paper.
  • Net expenditure was £1,841,333 compared with £1,517,819 in 1997-98. The increase was due to the high demand for copies of Parliamentary papers and the record number of pages in the Minute and Hansard.

4  Future Activities

Future activities include:

  • a review of the purchase and keeping of parliamentary publications, including the length of time different types of publication should be stocked.
  • an inquiry into what documents produced by the Scottish Parliament and devolved Assemblies should be stocked.
  • rearranging accommodation to provide an improved service to Lords and more desk space for staff.
  • the employment and integration into the present structure of a new member of staff to work on monitoring deliveries from The Stationery Office Ltd. and other matters.

Record Office
(Clerk of the Records: D J Johnson, succeeded by S K Ellison in June 1999)

1  Purpose

The Office serves both Houses by providing records management advice and an archive service which is also available to the public.

2  Organisation

The 5 archivists now include a permanent records manager instead of a short-term contract archivist, but the architectural specialist (part time) and 1 conservator have retired and have not been replaced. There remain 4 support staff, 6 conservators and a part time supervisor (seconded from the British Library), and 3 reprographic staff (seconded from TSO).

3  Activities and Financial Performance

The Bindery has been renovated, a new roller laminator installed and conservation work on plans accelerated. The ability to reproduce plans and other large documents has been improved by the purchase of a microfilm scanner linked to a computer and a printer which can print up to AO size.

The records of 26 departments throughout Parliament have been surveyed and 19 reports issued. One result is that some 19th century records have been gleaned as well as the usual harvest of annual deposits. Other accessions range from a 17th century notebook to a set of microfiches of 19th century Parliamentary Papers.

The Office received more than 4 times as many enquiries by fax, e-mail or telephone as by searchers in person (1,085). In one month's sample of the latter, 75 per cent awarded the service an `excellent' rating.

Expenditure was £710,234, less receipts of £15,409 from royalties, the sale of photocopies etc. and £24,685 from VAT recoveries. The comparable figures for 1997-98 were £715,300, £10,341 and £42,691.

4  Future Activities

Detailed planning for the installation of new air-conditioning plants in the Victoria Tower and the consequent decanting of records will be resumed. Specifications for a comprehensive Office IT programme will be drawn up and preparatory work for the on-line transmission of catalogues and some digitised documents will be continued. A records management strategy will be promoted, with the help of an additional member of staff.

Refreshment Department
(Superintendent: A D O Bibbiani)

1  Purpose

The Department has responsibility for the provision of catering facilities to Lords and Officers and their guests, staff and Counsel. It also provides a private function service to Lords and Officers of the House, and sells House of Lords gifts and souvenirs.

2  Organisation

The Department employs 90 staff, of whom 14 are in managerial positions and 4 are employed in a clerical capacity. Staff numbers have increased by 6 since 1997-98. Fluctuations around the current figure are expected to be moderate for the foreseeable future. The Department uses some casual labour to mitigate the effects of staff sickness, absence, unfilled vacancies and variations in demand.

3  Activities and Financial Performance

The services provided by the Department and the year's results are summarised in Part I (paragraph 66) and are set out in detail in the Accounts (page 53).

The Department has continued its policy of bearing certain costs on the Trading Account which, in the past, were borne on the House of Lords Votes. The performance of each outlet continues to be monitored with reference to a prescribed percentage profit target. These targets are set by the Refreshment Sub-Committee and were reviewed in the course of the year.

The original budget for the Refreshment Department expenditure falling on the House of Lords Administration Vote (chiefly wages costs of staff other than functions and retail) was £622,850. This was subsequently increased by virement to £702,237 to take account of additional staff costs and expenditure on computer services. Net expenditure was £700,368 (£596,560 in 1997-98). Refreshment Department expenditure falling on the Works Services Vote was offset by a contribution by the Department of £10,353 as reimbursement of the cost of qualifying items of light equipment under an agreement with the Parliamentary Works Directorate.

4  Future Activities

previous page contents next page

House of Lords home page Parliament home page House of Commons home page search page enquiries

© Parliamentary copyright 1999