Annual Report and Accounts 1999-2000

Part II - Office Reports

Establishment Office

(Establishment Officer: R H Walters)

1 Purpose

The Office provides a personnel service for 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 1999 was negotiated with staff representatives.

  • The Staff Handbook was revised to incorporate new provisions on maternity and parental leave, health and safety, physiotherapy, fraud and pay.

  • Proposals were developed in conjunction with the Commons to change the basis of pay for fast stream Clerks and Library Clerks.

  • A Health and Safety policy was adopted by the Clerk of the Parliaments, health and safety co-ordinators appointed and the Health and Safety Committee re-structured.

  • The Office was involved in the recruitment of 49 new staff; 25 internal appointments boards; preparing pensions authorisations for 52 retirements, resignations or redundancies; and calculating 132 worked responses to enquiries, estimates etc. relating to pensions.

Net expenditure by the Establishment Office was £491,851. Net expenditure on superannuation was £1,427,856. Superannuation contributions collected for family benefits totalled £165,704. (Equivalent figures in 1998-99 were £431,886, £1,176,325 and £140,548.)

4 Future Activities

  • Negotiating the acceptance of proposals on 2000 pay.

  • Progress towards the introduction of a superannuation IT system in 2000.

  • Preparing to apply the Data Protection Act.

  • Monitoring proposals for further structural changes in Civil Service Pay.

Journal and Information Office

(Clerk of the Journals: B P Keith)

1 Purpose

The Journal and Information Office provides procedural advice and support to other offices; maintains records of the House's business and membership; compiles the Journals of the House (the authoritative record of proceedings); provides an enquiry service to Members of the House, the public and press by telephone, e-mail and letter; produces publications about the role and work of the House; manages contacts with the press and media; and supports the activities of the Parliamentary Education Unit.

2 Organisation

The Office consists of two sections, each with its own management structure, which work closely together:

  • the Information Office aims to promote a better understanding and knowledge of the role and work of the House. Its staff consist of the Information Officer and an assistant and 2 persons who work primarily on the telephone and e-mail answering service.

3 Activities and Financial Performance

  • Organising and managing, in accordance with Standing Order 9, the elections for the 90 hereditary peers who remain Members of the House.

  • Revising the Companion to the Standing Orders to take account of procedural and other changes since 1994 and also the procedural implications of the House of Lords Act 1999.

  • Revising and reissuing many information publications, including the illustrated Guide to the Galleries to take account of the 1999 Act.

  • Further developing the Registry database to provide speedier and wider access to information about the House's work and membership, including analysis of divisions.

  • Taking over responsibility for the new addresses database (which provides a single authoritative source of information about Members' addresses) and writing to every Member of the House to verify their addresses.

  • Dealing with over 25,000 telephone calls and 2,500 e-mails and sending nearly 2000 information packs on request.

  • Producing the decennial index to the Journals for 1983-93.

Budget provision was £570,000 (£469,828 in 1998-99). Net expenditure was £567,006 (£468,904 in 1998-99).

4 Future Activities

  • Publishing the revised Companion to the Standing Orders and Brief Guide.

  • Bringing up to date the database of Members' special subjects and knowledge.

  • Publishing a register of hereditary peers who wish to stand in any by-election for membership of the House to be held under Standing Order 10.

  • Contributing to the redesign of the House of Lords website.

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: 2 Clerks, the Taxing Clerk, 3 executive and clerical staff and 1 full time, and 1 shared, secretary. The Law Lords' Office, which provides 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 Registrar of Lords' Interests.

3 Activities and Financial Performance

Some of the more important developments are described in Part I (paragraphs 45 to 47).

The out-turn in relation to appeals was identical to the previous year, with 60 causes determined and a further 19 heard but awaiting judgment. The backlog of appeals awaiting determination has grown to 94 (including the 19 awaiting judgment). This backlog can only be reduced when both Appellate Committees sit at once, something rarely possible as the ten available Lords of Appeal in Ordinary sit daily in both the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council and the Appellate Committee. A fuller statistical account is set out 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
Petitions of appeal
  Pending at beginning of year
  Presented during year
  Pending at end of year

The greater part of the Office was cabled for the PDVN, and improved IT facilities have been made available to the whole office. The project to establish a database of information relating to proceedings in appeals continues and a contract should be awarded shortly.

Responsibility for the Law Lords' book collection (including funding and staffing) was transferred to the Library at the end of the year. This should be a more efficient arrangement and provide a better service for the Lords of Appeal, who will continue to have to hand in the conference room those books on which they frequently rely.

Overall, the budget was underspent by 17.8%. Net expenditure was £112,610 (£122,950 in 1998-99). Total expenditure was £605,060 (£607,737 in 1998-99). This does not include the Law Lords' salaries which are paid from the Consolidated Fund. Total receipts were £496,708 (including VAT refunds of £12,178) (£494,435 in 1998-99). Of these, £492,450 were used in aid of the budget. Sixteen petitioners successfully applied for waiver of fee due to their financial situation (17 in each of the previous two years).

4 Future Activities

  • The employment of the first four legal assistants.

  • Further work on the Judicial Office database.

  • Attempts to reduce the backlog of appeals, especially in the light of the commencement of the Human Rights Act 1998.

  • The enquiry into the House of Lords by the Committee on Standards in Public Life will have a bearing on the work of the Registrar of Lords' Interests.

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

Original budget provision for 1999-2000 was £886,000, later reduced through virement to £786,000. Net expenditure was £746,959. The out-turn for public bills was £487,318 (£486,517 in 1998-99) and for private bills and the Chairman of Committees, net of fee income, £259,641 (£245,030 in 1998-99). Fee income from private bills was £37,948, of which £30,515 was used in aid of the budget (£39,435 in 1998-99).

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

  • Following a tender exercise in which the Office was heavily involved, the new contract for the printing of bills and amendments, which took effect from 1 April 2000, was awarded to The Stationery Office Ltd.

  • A new format for bills and Acts was agreed (see Part I, paragraph 31).

  • Consolidation Bills: The Joint Committee on Consolidation Bills met once, reporting one bill.

  • Measures: Two Measures were laid before Parliament following their consideration by the Ecclesiastical Committee, and a further Measure was considered and is expected to be laid shortly. The Churchwardens Measure has been considered three times by the Committee. It was withdrawn by the Synod and represented to the Committee in an amended form but has not been deemed expedient.

4 Future Activities

The Office will continue to develop new methods of applying information technology to its work and will assist in the specification and development of new software for the electronic processing of legislation in the new format, in conjunction with the other users.

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 a Clerk who acts as Private Secretary to the Chairman of Committees.

3 Activities and Financial Performance

  • unopposed bill committees sat. The Lord Chairman made a determination under Standing Order 130 on two questions relating to the London Docklands Railway (Lewisham) Act 1993. A Joint Committee sat for 10 days on the City of Stoke-on-Trent Tunstall Northern By-Pass Local Government Act Compulsory Purchase Order 1997. The Committee considered 21 petitions of general objection against the order, and made a special report and two amendments to the Order.

  • The second half of the computerised Index to the Local and Personal Acts, covering the period 1797 to 1849, was completed and the two volumes were published in August 1999.

  • Delegated Powers and Deregulation Committee: The work of the Committee is described in Part I (paragraph 33).

4 Future Activities

Work is underway on a new edition of Private Business Standing Orders. It is proposed to publish Private Bills, and information about them, on the House of Lords Internet website.

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