Annual Report and Accounts 1999-2000

Part II - Office Reports


(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.

2 Organisation

The Library, which serves Members of the House, has 21 permanent and 2 part-time staff; 12 of the 17 graduates on the staff hold professional library qualifications.

3 Activities and Financial Performance

Members' use of the Library research services showed a small increase over the previous year. The daily press monitoring service on the work of the House was a valuable asset in monitoring press coverage of the reform of the House. Staff at the Information Desk dealt with 13,470 enquiries (13,276 in 1998-99). Staff changes in the middle of the year and a more rigorous selection of items added to the POLIS database led to reduced numbers of items catalogued and indexed. 1,486 new titles or new editions were added to the Library's catalogue (1,901 in 1998-99) and 4,104 items were added to the POLIS database (7,094 in 1998-99).

The regular production of sets of authorities for the Appellate Committee had long been an important task for the Library. However, this work had declined steadily and it was agreed that the Library would cease to produce sets of authorities but that any authority called for during the hearing of an appeal would be supplied.

In consequence, the Library is able to devote more staff time to the important task of collection management, ie. the efficient use of shelving and the conservation of the Library's stock. An extensive shelf-check and survey of non-legal monographs in the Dewey Collection was completed. The WAR collection (a collection of works relating to the 1st and 2nd World Wars) was reclassified.

A solution to the long-running problems in networking databases on CD-Rom became available early in the year; new software and hardware were installed and reliable access to these databases achieved. The databases made available include, besides standard reference works, comprehensive sets of English and Scottish case law; statutes; statutory instruments; and European Union legislation. A standard collection of legal materials in electronic format is now available to support the legislative and judicial work of the House. To facilitate the use of these databases, guides were prepared by the Library and issued to interested users via the Intranet. A new version of GEOWEB, the Library's web catalogue, was installed.

Efforts in Information Technology were also dedicated to two other matters: arising from the parliamentary convergence programme, the Library installed a new operating system based on Windows; and efforts to ensure that the Library's systems were millennium compliant proved successful.

Original budget provision for 1999-2000 was £1,186,000, subsequently increased by virement to £1,232,000. Out-turn expenditure was £1,251,616 (£1,153,068 in 1998-99). Income totalled £30,593 (£19,599 in 1998-99), of which £24,000 was used in aid of the budget.

4 Future Activities

  • From 1 April 2000, the Library will take on responsibility for the book collection housed near the Law Lords' offices and the collection will be integrated with the Library's main collection.

  • A satellite Library will be established for the use of Members with accommodation in Millbank House.

  • The development of a Library webpage on the Parliamentary network, postponed from the previous year, will be given priority.

  • A new system will be developed to record research enquiries carried out for Members.

Official Report (Hansard)

(Editor: Mrs M E E C Villiers)

1 Purpose

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

2 Organisation

The Department currently employs 26 full-time and 8 part-time staff. It is headed by the Editor of Debates. There are a Deputy Editor, 5 Assistant Editors (one post is on a job-share basis), 2 Chief Reporters, 13 Reporters (2 posts are on a job-share basis), 2 Assistant Reporters, an Office Manager, a Personal Secretary (on a job-share basis), 2 Executive Officers, a Typist and a Screen Corrector/Proof Reader. In the course of the year, 6 screen corrector posts and 5 typist posts were abolished following the introduction of a new computer system and new working methods.

3 Activities and Financial Performance

It was another busy year for the Official Report with a high number of sittings and the highest average length of sittings (see Part I, paragraph 20 above and Appendix C below). 158 Daily Reports and 36 weekly volumes were published. From these, 9 Bound Volumes will be compiled. The electronic version of Hansard has been published daily on the Parliamentary Data and Video Network and the Internet and, in the latter case, has been the subject of 2,122,924 hits during the year. The text from June 1996 continues to be available online on both the PDVN and the Internet, with the text from earlier years available on CD-ROM.

Original budget provision for the financial year was £1,814,000, subsequently increased by virement to £2,017,000. Net expenditure of £2,016,382 was incurred. This compares with total expenditure of £1,743,871 in 1998-99. The increase was principally due to the need to replace the Department's computer system, which was not millennium-compliant, and high printing costs, which exceeded budget by just over £100,000.

4 Future Activities

  • Progress towards the electronic transmission of Written Answers from government departments, which should facilitate major improvements in the speed of production and lead to reduction in costs.

  • Preparations for the new printing contract which will take effect from April 2001.

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 Clerk of the Overseas Office undertakes his duties in addition to being Clerk of Committees. Since May 1999, following a recommendation by the Staff Adviser, the Office has been strengthened by the creation of a full-time Visits Co-ordinator post.

3 Activities and Financial Performance

Many of the activities of the Office during 1999-2000 are described in Part I (paragraphs 50 to 54).

As in previous years, the Office prepared programmes for and received a considerable number of officials from overseas parliaments on attachment to the House of Commons. The Overseas Office also dealt 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.

Lord Russell-Johnston continued as President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, and the Office provides support for him at Westminster in this role. In addition, the Visits Co-ordinator attended, at the Assembly's invitation, the four part-sessions in Strasbourg.

The Clerk of the Parliaments attended the Canadian Clerks' Professional Development Seminar in Regina, Saskatchewan, in August 1999. Other Clerks attended a meeting of the Society of Clerks at the Table in Commonwealth Parliaments in Trinidad and Tobago and a Commonwealth Parliamentary Association seminar in Malta.

Original budget provision for the Overseas Office in 1999-2000 was £278,000, later reduced through virement to £193,000. Actual expenditure was £191,851 (£288,065 in 1997-98). The decrease in expenditure in 1999-2000 was due largely to lower than forecast expenditure on Parliamentary delegations and staff travel overseas.

4 Future Activities

  • At the Conference of European Union Speakers in Lisbon in 1999 it was proposed that that Conference, until then biennial, should become an annual event, and accordingly there will be a further such Conference in Rome from 22 to 24 September 2000.

  • The Office will be involved in the annual meeting of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association to be held in London and Edinburgh in September 2000.

Printed Paper Office (including Supplies Office)

(Clerk of the Journals: B P Keith)

1 Purpose

The Office provides Parliamentary papers and other documents needed by members of the House to discharge their Parliamentary duties; and provides office supplies, including photocopiers, fax machines and stationery.

2 Organisation

There are 7 members of staff (excluding the Clerk of the Journals who is budgetholder and responsible for the general management of the office).

3 Activities and Financial Performance

  • Bringing into effect new methods for monitoring deliveries of parliamentary papers to the Printed Paper Office (PPO).

  • Circulation of a notice to all Members of the House explaining the arrangements for the supply of parliamentary papers, with the aim of improving the efficiency of the service and achieving economies by avoiding the despatch of unwanted documents.

  • Making appropriate changes to the circulation of parliamentary papers to Members, following enactment of the House of Lords Bill.

  • Introduction of a new system for disposing of redundant computer equipment.

  • budget provision was £1,704,000, later reduced through virement to £1,639,000 (£1,850,150 in 1998-99). Net expenditure was £1,637,561 (£1,841,333 in 1998-99).

4 Future Activities

  • Improved methods for managing the House's printing and publishing needs.

  • Further development of electronic publishing via the Internet.

  • Further training of all staff in core skills and technical training to deliver better service to Members of the House.

  • Implementation of a report from the Occupational Health, Safety and Welfare Service on safety in the PPO.

  • Implementation of the Internal Auditor's report on Office Supplies and Stationery.

Record Office (The Parliamentary Archives)

(Clerk of the Records: S K Ellison)

1 Purpose

The Record Office provides an archive service and a records management service for both Houses of Parliament, answers enquiries about the history and records of Parliament, and makes historic Parliamentary records accessible to the public through the Search Room.

2 Organisation

Early in the year, David Johnson retired as Clerk of the Records after 33 years' service. The complement of 5 archivists will be enhanced by the appointment of an additional archivist/records manager. The Office continues to have 4 support staff, 6 Conservation Officers and a part-time supervisor (seconded from the British Library), and 3 Reprographic Officers (seconded from The Stationery Office).

3 Activities and Financial Performance

A report on the survey of parliamentary record-keeping, begun in 1996, was presented to the Clerks of both Houses and led to the compilation of Parliamentary Records Management Policy Guidelines. These proposed a best practice and corporate approach to records management, which was endorsed by the two Record Officers' groups set up to represent the staff of each House. Surveys and reports on the records of 53 Commons' offices and committees (involving 33 separate surveys) were completed.

Recommendations on the desktop management of e-mail were approved for circulation to all staff. The Record Office has served on two joint Parliamentary working groups set up to consider a suitable framework for the development of systems for the management and future archiving of electronic records.

A study of the potential benefit of a single comprehensive catalogue of the Parliamentary archives was completed. It confirmed a requirement for an online archival catalogue and management system conforming to international standards of archive description that will enable participation in the proposed national archive network. A national archive survey showed that the majority of users (77%) wanted to be able to search the Record Office's catalogue over the web, and 48% of users wanted to be able to order documents over the web in advance of their visit to the Search Room. A new hierarchical catalogue structure has been designed to accommodate multi-levels of archive description and reference codes for the records. 177 finding aids were converted to electronic form, using the new referencing structure.

From 1 April 1999 the House of Lords Record Office became a shared service with 40% of its budgeted costs contributed by the House of Commons. Expenditure was £669,691. Receipts from the sale of photocopies and royalties totalled £13,759; and £26,032 from VAT recoveries. The comparable figures for last year were £710,332, £15,408 and £24,686. The House of Commons contribution was £273,000.

4 Future Activities

  • A three-year strategy for Parliamentary records management will commence in 2000-01.

  • A computer project board will be appointed to procure and implement an automated archive catalogue which will be accessible through the Parliamentary website.

  • The Record Office's outreach activities will be reviewed.

Refreshment Department

(Superintendent: A D O Bibbiani)

1 Purpose

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

2 Organisation

The Department employs 95 staff, of whom 14 are in managerial positions and 4 are employed in a clerical capacity. Staff numbers have remained stable since 1998-99. Fluctuations around the current figure are expected to be minimal for the foreseeable future with the exception of the recruitment of 5 additional full-time members of staff for the new satellite unit in Millbank House which will begin operations in October 2001.

The Department makes use of some casual labour to mitigate the effects of unfilled vacancies, variations in demand (chiefly for functions), staff sickness and absence.

3 Activities and Financial Performance

The services provided by the Department and the year's results are summarised in Part I (paragraph 86) and are set out in detail in the Accounts (page 60).

All internal and external performance targets were met ensuring, for the sixth consecutive year, full staff participation in the bonus scheme. With the agreement of trade union officials, the percentage available for distribution under this scheme was decreased to 10% (20% in 1998-99) of surplus profit over and above the Treasury target, with a view to discontinuation in 2000-01.

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 specified percentage profit targets, set and reviewed annually by the Refreshment Sub-Committee.

Original budget provision for Refreshment Department expenditure falling on the House of Lords Administration Vote (chiefly wages costs of staff other than functions and retail) was £685,000. This was subsequently increased by a supplementary estimate and virement to £797,054 (£702,237 in 1998-99) to take account of additional staff costs and expenditure on computer services. Net expenditure was £792,809 (£700,368 in 1998-99). Refreshment Department expenditure falling on the Works Services Vote was offset by a contribution by the Department of £19,214 as reimbursement of the costs of qualifying items of light equipment under an agreement with the Parliamentary Works Directorate.

4 Future Activities

  • The Department will aim to continue to offer the best possible catering facilities and the highest quality of service, to be responsive to the wishes of customers and observant of any possible impact that the reform of the House may have on trading activities.

  • A major IT upgrade and development programme, comprising the installation of an Electronic Point of Sale System, a Stock Management System, a Banqueting Diary system and new Accounting software will begin in September 2000.

Black Rod's Department

(Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod: General Sir Edward Jones)

1 Purpose

The duties of Black Rod's Department include the historic responsibility for controlling access to the Chamber; the organisation and mounting of ceremonial events; the co-ordination, with the House of Commons, of the security arrangements for the Palace of Westminster; the planning and supervision of the Works programme; the search for solutions to the overriding problem of insufficient accommodation for Peers; and the provision of domestic services.

2 Organisation

The organisation of the Department remained unchanged and has continued to benefit from a high degree of stability. The Document Management System (DMS) is now a fully established part of office practice.

Doorkeepers and Attendants have continued to provide a high quality of service to Peers and staff. The recommendations of a report by the Staff Inspector in respect of the Attendants have been accepted and will be implemented during the coming year.

3 Activities and Financial Performance

1999 was dominated by the passage of the House of Lords Bill. The practical aspects of the change in membership had a significant impact on the work of the Department and contributed, along with many introduction ceremonies for new Peers, to considerable pressure of work. Despite the sensitivities involved, the desks and lockers of former Members were cleared and emptied in accordance with the planned timetable. Subsequently, the facilities granted to former Members have been used discreetly and unobtrusively. The changing composition of the House has placed further demands on the availability of working accommodation and the adequacy of the facilities provided. This is now the most pressing problem facing the House.


  • The following major events took place in the Royal Gallery during the year: a Ceremony to mark the 50th Anniversary of the Council of Europe, a Reception for Millennium Award winners on 31 December 1999 and a Multi-Faith Event on 3 January 2000. A Reception, attended by Princess Margaret, to celebrate the 900th Anniversary of the Order of St John was held in Westminster Hall on 31 March 2000.


  • The preparation of a further film about the House of Lords, which concentrated on the period leading up to the passing of the House of Lords Bill, involved the Department in much administrative and supervisory work. The film is due to be broadcast at the end of 2000.


  • Pressure has grown among Peers for improvements in accommodation and the quality of facilities available to the House. Work has started to convert and modernise 7 Little College Street, which has been rented from the Church Commissioners and will provide space for desks for 80 Peers. Work will be completed by December 2000. In February 2001 a small number of rooms in the Palace will be transferred from the House of Commons to the House of Lords. Work will then start on Millbank House, also acquired on a rental basis from the Church Commissioners. This will become available in August 2001.

  • Negotiations to renew the Special Service Agreement with the Metropolitan Police were successfully completed. Charges under the new Agreement are based on payment for the services actually delivered and will require careful monitoring.

  • Arrangements have been put in hand to deal with an increased level of malicious correspondence received by Peers.

  • The summer works programme 1999 was completed on time and within budget. A welcome start has been made to the long awaited programme of stone cleaning in the House of Lords inner courtyards.

  • All outstanding issues arising from the Fire Review have now been resolved.

  • The range of messaging services for Peers has been extended and proposals have been developed to improve substantially the quality of the mail service. This will be put in place in the coming year.

  • Black Rod's database, an integral part of the Parliamentary Administrative Database, has been installed.

  • The medical arrangements in support of the House have been reviewed. As a result two defibrillators have been acquired and Doorkeepers and Attendants trained in their use.

  • The two Houses have agreed that the Line of Route should be open to the general public on a trial basis during August and September 2000 (see Part I, paragraph 72).

4 Finance

Annual out-turn

Black Rod's Department

5 Future Activities

The following activities are contained in the Departmental Plan for 2000-2001:

  • Allocation of accommodation to Peers in 7 Little College Street, the "Five Rooms" and Millbank House.

  • Planning and execution of the move of Peers to 7 Little College Street.

  • Provision of security and services in 7 Little College Street.

  • Planning for the move to Millbank House.

  • The opening of the Line of Route to the general public.

  • Implementation of major ceremonial events planned for 2000.

  • Completion, to time and to target, of the annual works programme.

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