Part II - Office Reports
BLACK ROD'S DEPARTMENT
(Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod:
General Sir Edward Jones)
Black Rod's Department is responsible for control
of access to the Chamber of the House and has a number of associated
responsibilities which include the organisation and mounting of
ceremonial events, the coordination of security arrangements,
the planning for and provision of accommodation for Peers and
staff, oversight of the Works programme, and domestic services.
The organisation of the Department remained unchanged
and it enjoyed a welcome level of stability as regards staffing.
The introduction of new technology has continued and the Document
Management Systems Trial (DMS) (see Part I, paragraph 47) has
been a challenging and positive experience and the efficiency
of the Department has clearly benefited.
Air-Vice Marshal David Hawkins-Leth reached the end
of his five year appointment as Yeoman Usher of the Black Rod.
He has been replaced by Brigadier Hedley Duncan.
The Doorkeepers and Attendants have maintained their
level of service to the House. Both will be subject to review
by the Staff Adviser in the year ahead. The first female Doorkeeper
3 Activities and Financial Performance
The high level of activity in the House and the rising
average daily attendance by Lords have highlighted the problems
caused by the shortage of working accommodation. The announcement
of the date of the State Opening of Parliament was made only two
weeks before the event, placing a particular burden on the Parliamentary
Works Directorate (PWD). The PWD were further tested, and rose
to the challenge, when the House was recalled in the middle of
the summer recess 1998.
(1) Apart from the State Opening, no specific
ceremonial events took place but preparations were made for a
ceremony in the Royal Gallery in May 1999 to mark the 50th Anniversary
of the Council of Europe.
(2) The Department has participated in planning
celebrations for the 900th Anniversary of the completion of Westminster
Hall later in 1999, the Millennium Exhibition and the visit to
London of the American Bar Association in 2000.
The Department was involved at all stages in
the arrangements for the production of a series of 3 programmes
on the House of Lords which were shown on BBC2 in January 1999
(see also Part I, paragraph 51).
(1) Attention was focused on the question
of accommodation. Efforts were made to locate temporary offices
for Lords within division bell distance of the Palace of Westminster
but these proved unsuccessful. The Department was also involved
in all aspects of the project to provide additional accommodation
for the House at Millbank House.
(2) Despite the inconvenience of the recall of
the House, the summer works programme was completed on time.
(3) A Families Room was established in the Bishops'
lower changing room to provide facilities for spouses.
(4) Negotiations with the Metropolitan Police
to renew the Special Service Agreement (SSA) have begun. The review
of security arrangements conducted by the Security Service was
disappointing and a Consultant has been retained to assist in
(5) Progress has been made on many aspects of
the Review of the Fire Section. Outstanding issues will be addressed
in the context of the SSA. Significant savings will accrue. A
successful fire practice was held.
(6) Substantial progress was made to meet the
recommendations of the message handling consultancy. Many Peers
have taken advantage of the offer of a pager service and voice
(7) Together with the House of Commons, work
continued throughout the year to devise a scheme to open the Line
of Route to the general public (see also Part I, paragraph 42).
|Black Rod's Department||1,338,976
4 Future Activities
The following activities are contained in the Departmental Plan
- Completion of the implementation of the Fire Service Review.
- Implementation of the Consultant's recommendation in respect
of security and the successful completion of negotiations with
the Metropolitan Police in respect of the SSA.
- The preparation of detailed plans for the occupation of Millbank
House and monitoring of the works programme.
- Monitoring of the use of car parking space.
- Completion, to time and to target, of the annual works programme
and, in particular, planning for the commencement of work on the
Old Palace Yard project.
- Progress on works associated with fire certification.