Select Committee on House of Lords Offices Second Report


Tuesday 25th May 1999

BY THE SELECT COMMITTEE appointed to consider the House of Lords' Offices


  The Committee have met and been attended by the Clerk of the Parliaments and the Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod.

1.  Record Copies of Acts

  The Committee recommends that the record copies of Acts of Parliament, kept in the House of Lords Record Office, should be printed on archival paper instead of vellum, with effect from the first Act of the year 2000. With the agreement of the Master of the Rolls and the Keeper of the Public Records, the production of the second record copy of each Act for the Public Record Office should cease.

  When the Parliament Rolls of Acts of Parliament were discontinued in 1849, it was resolved by both Houses that two copies of every Act, whether Public or Private, should be printed on vellum, one to be stored in the Record Tower (now the House of Lords Record Office) and the other with the Master of the Rolls (now the Public Record Office). The former copy is authenticated by the Clerk of the Parliaments as the official authority for the published text of an Act. In 1956 vellum was replaced by archival paper for Private Acts. The increasing scarcity and expense of vellum and the printing constraints which it imposes have now led to the proposal that Public Acts should be similarly treated.

  On the advice of conservation experts at the British Library, archival paper has been identified with a proven life expectancy of 250 years and a probable life expectancy exceeding 500 years in good archival conditions. It is superior to vellum for print quality, is less bulky, and avoids the use of animal products. The value of the potential saving is about £30,000 a year.

  Resolutions of both Houses would be needed to give effect to this recommendation. The Committee has been informed that a comparable recommendation is being made by the Administration Committee of the House of Commons.

2.  Smoking in the House of Lords

  Following the Report of the Informal Group on Smoking (copies of which are available in the Printed Paper Office and the Library of the House), the Committee makes the following recommendations:

    (i)  Smoking should be banned in lavatories and telephone kiosks;

    (ii)  Smoking should be banned in Committee rooms, unless, at a private meeting of a Committee, that Committee specifically gives permission at the time.

3.  Lords Reimbursement Allowances

  The Committee was informed that from 1st April 1999 the motor mileage allowance had been increased by 1.1 pence to 51.2 pence for the first 20,000 miles for the period to 31st March 2000. Further mileage in this period would be payable at the rate of 23.6 pence per mile.

  The Committee was further informed that from 1st April 1999 the bicycle allowance had been increased by 0.1 pence to 6.5 pence per mile.

4.  House of Lords Families Room

  The Committee welcomes the provision of a room for the use of immediate family members of Peers. The Room is not intended to be used as a work or meeting room. It is to be a no smoking area.

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