Annual Report 2002-03

ANNUAL REPORT 2002-03

Review of the Year

Changes in the Administration


18. The Chairman of Committees, Lord Tordoff, retired at the end of the 2001-02 session. He was succeeded by Lord Brabazon of Tara, previously Principal Deputy Chairman of Committees. Lord Grenfell was appointed Principal Deputy in his place.

19. On 12 March 2003, the Leader of the House announced the retirement of the Clerk of the Parliaments, Sir Michael Davies, with effect from 14 July. The appointment of a successor was made following a trawl among the staff of the House, the House of Commons and the devolved Parliaments and Assemblies. On 21 May, the Leader announced that a Board held to consider applications had unanimously recommended the appointment of Mr Paul Hayter as Clerk of the Parliaments.

20. Last year's Annual Report described how a Working Group, chaired by the then Chairman of Committees, Lord Tordoff, recommended a number of administrative changes. These were, for the most part, endorsed by the House of Lords' Offices Committee5, and agreed by the House on 10 June 2002. The recommendations may be summed up as follows:

  • The Offices Committee and its Finance and Staff Sub-Committee should be abolished, and their functions taken over by a new Committee called the House Committee;
  • The remaining sub-committees of the Offices Committee should be reconstituted as free-standing select committees, acting primarily as "user groups";
  • The House Committee should be supported by a Management Board of senior officials, chaired by the Clerk of the Parliaments;
  • There should be an Audit Committee.

21. These recommendations were implemented from the new Parliamentary session in November 2002. The aspirations underlying them were:

  • That the Administration should develop a more strategic and corporate approach to the delivery of services, defining long-term objectives and the ways to achieve them ­ accompanied by more rigorous financial control;
  • That the House as a whole, through the House Committee, should "own" this strategy, both helping to shape it and measuring its achievement;
  • That Members and the Administration, as represented by the House Committee and the Management Board, should work closely together;
  • That there should be greater transparency towards Members as a whole ­ more information made available to them, with simpler administrative structures and lines of responsibility.

By the end of the period covered by this Report, it was clear that these objectives were beginning to be realised.

House Committee

22. In place of the 28-strong Offices Committee, the House Committee has 11 members: the Chairman of Committees, the Leaders of the three main parties and the Convenor of the Cross Bench Peers, and six back-bench Members. In the case of the Labour and Liberal Democrat parties, and the Crossbenchers, their back-bench Members were elected by their party colleagues. The full membership of the new domestic committees is set out in Appendix A, and their work in the early months of the 2002-03 session is described below.

23. Since its appointment, the House Committee has met monthly. So as to increase openness and accountability, the Committee decided wherever possible to post papers on the House of Lords' Intranet: agendas are made available a week before meetings, and minutes and memoranda shortly after meetings have taken place. The Committee reserved the right to withhold confidential papers from general disclosure, but this right has, in practice, been little used.

24. At its first meeting, the Committee agreed the House of Lords Estimate for 2003­04. The Estimate was, on this occasion, presented in a traditional form. However, the Committee's intention is that the preparation of the Estimate will be fully integrated into strategic and business planning. To this end, the Committee agreed the House of Lords Strategic Plan in March. The Plan (set out in Appendix B) sets the overall aim, the primary objectives, values and tasks of the Administration. It provides the framework on which business planning, the setting of expenditure levels, the prioritising of different objectives, and ultimately ways to measure their achievement, can be built. The Committee agreed a Business Plan for 2004-07 in July.

25. The Committee made three reports to the House. The first6 set out the Committee's recommendation that details relating to Members' claims for expenses should be published, with effect from late 2004, to meet the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (see paragraph 79). This recommendation was agreed by the House on 14 January7. The two other reports, on the Strategic Plan and on new arrangements whereby Members can claim expenses incurred in EU travel on Parliamentary business, were both made for information and were not debated.

26. The Committee has also expressed support for enhanced cooperation with the authorities of the House of Commons. This reflects not only the importance of joint Parliamentary services but also the many interests which the two Houses share. The Chairman accordingly wrote to the Speaker suggesting that the Committee and the House of Commons Commission should meet to discuss issues of common concern. After a positive response from the Commission, preparations were made for a joint meeting ­ the first of its kind at this level ­ which was held in June 2003.

27. Although the relationship of the other domestic committees to the House Committee is no longer that of sub-committee and parent committee, each committee operates "within financial limits approved by the House Committee". Thus, the Chairman of the Information Committee appeared before the House Committee in April 2003 to argue the case for an increase in the number of PCs available for loan to Members. The House Committee agreed that some financial provision should be made for this purpose with effect from the financial year 2003-04.

Management Board

28. The House of Lords' Management Board was formally established in October 2002. Its structure is designed to reflect the wide range of services provided to the House and its Members and to encourage a sense of corporate identity among the staff. The Clerk of the Parliaments is Chairman and six other members represent the following service areas:



29. The Board's main functions are to:
  • Assist the House Committee in preparing the Strategic Plan and to formulate a Business Plan for the implementation of the strategy.
  • Advise the House Committee and scrutinise the papers to go before it and the draft Estimates and longer term financial plans.
  • Respond to specific directions from the House Committee.
  • Manage the House Administration.

30. The Board has sought to develop working practices which allow it to work effectively with, and respond to, the House Committee and to be open and accountable to the staff and the offices which it represents.

31. Much of the Board's work since October 2002 has been devoted to strategic and business planning. The Board has also agreed a system of risk management and a set of corporate risks. The Board member responsible for the management of each corporate risk is obliged to monitor the risk and report to the Board to an agreed timetable. Other matters considered include revised sets of financial delegations from the House Committee to the Clerk of the Parliaments and from the Clerk to heads of offices, and proposals for an initial assessment of the prospects of Investors in People accreditation.

32. The Board recognises the importance of effective human resource and staff development policies, and a senior management training programme has been set in train to ensure that staff have the skills required to adapt to the new management environment.

Audit Committee

33. The Audit Committee was first appointed by the Finance and Staff Sub-Committee in July 2002. Its first Report to the House Committee, for 2002-03, appears at the end of this Review of the Year (pages 37 to 40).


The Audit Committee: from left to right, Dame Valerie Strachan, Lord Christopher, Lord Shutt of Greetland, Lord Alexander of Weedon (Chairman), Lord Best, Kate Ball (Clerk).

Administration and Works Committee

34. The Administration and Works Committee has responsibility for administrative services, security and works as well as the overall provision of accommodation, within the financial limits set by the House Committee. In 2002-03 it considered a report on the completion of the restoration of Old Palace Yard, proposals to develop new facilities for visitors to the Palace, as well as the ongoing programme of works and maintenance on the Parliamentary Estate.

35. The major issue facing the Committee is the provision of satisfactory accommodation. During 2002-03, Committee Room 5 was acquired from the House of Commons and this has helped to ease the growing pressure on committee rooms. The Committee was kept informed of progress in the refurbishment of Fielden House, which will become available for occupation late in 2004. In addition, Black Rod's Department has conducted a detailed accommodation review, which will inform the development of a long-term accommodation strategy.

Information Committee

36. At the start of the 2002-03 session, the Library and Computer Sub-Committee was re-established as the Information Committee, with a range of new responsibilities, such as information services for Members and the public, broadcasting, and the work of the Record Office, in addition to its longstanding responsibility for the Library and information technology. Lord Baker of Dorking succeeded Lord Renfrew of Kaimsthorn as Chairman.

37. The Committee is actively involved in advising on the development of the new House of Lords' Intranet, has made proposals to the House Committee on visitors' facilities and the provision of computers to Members, and has recommended that webcasting of proceedings should be further developed (see paragraph 93). It has established a regular Information Newsletter, with up-to-date news about information services in the House. The Newsletter is available on the Intranet and from the Library and Printed Paper Office.

Refreshment Committee

38. The Refreshment Committee is the main Members' user group for the services provided by the Refreshment Department and assists the Clerk of the Parliaments in supervising the financial performance of the Department. Lord Colwyn remained as Chairman.

39. The Committee has endorsed the outline plans for the major refurbishment of the main kitchen and back of house area, and has made consequential arrangements for the provision of catering services when the main kitchen is closed in the summer of 2003. It conducted a full survey of Members' views about the catering services and facilities in the House, which will assist it in identifying and responding to demands for future services.

Works of Art Committee

40. At the start of the 2002-03 session, the Advisory Panel on Works of Art was re-established as a Select Committee. One of its first initiatives was to agree an acquisition policy, setting out formally the types of works of art which it would seek to acquire and the criteria by which their suitability for the permanent collection would be judged. Baroness Hilton of Eggardon remained as Chairman.

41. Details of the purchases of works of art made on behalf of the House by the Committee will be included in the notes to the Resource Accounts for 2002-03. Major purchases included a pair of watercolours by Hugh Buchanan of the Lying in State of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother in April 2002. A third watercolour, by Alexander Creswell, was generously donated to the House by Lord and Lady Jacobs. Another commission was an oil painting by Julian Barrow of the presentation of Addresses by both Houses to Her Majesty The Queen to mark Her Golden Jubilee (see photographs on pages 26 and 27).

42. Shortly after the end of the period covered by this Report, a portrait by Thomas Murray of William, Earl Cowper, first Lord Chancellor of Great Britain after the Act of Union in 1707, was acquired, thanks to the generosity of Lord Gavron, a member of the Committee. It now hangs in the House of Lords Dining Room.



6First Report, 2002-03 (HL Paper 19).

7HL Deb. Cols 136-141.

 



 
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