Black Rod's Department
(Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod:
General Sir Edward Jones)
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 Authorities of the House of Commons, of the security
arrangements for the Palace of Westminster; the planning and supervision
of the Works Programme; the continuing search for solutions to
the overriding problem of accommodation for Members; and the provision
of domestic services.
The organisation of the Department remained unchanged.
There was a higher than usual turnover of staff in Black Rod's
Office, but, at the end of the year, all staff posts were filled
with well qualified staff. The Staff Adviser completed a comprehensive
and far reaching report on the staffing and grading of the Doorkeepers.
After full consultation, its recommendations were accepted and
will be implemented as appropriate.
3 Activities and Financial Performance
Millennium Year made particular demands on the Department
because of the high number of ceremonial events. Much attention
was focussed on the increasing demands of Members for improved
accommodation and services. The arrangements agreed for facilities
and rights of access for former Members of the House gave rise
to no serious difficulties and have been renewed by the appropriate
Committees. The Department is also beginning to feel the impact
of radical organisational changes which are taking place in the
House of Commons. An important innovation was the opening of the
visitors' tour (Line of Route) to the general public on a trial
basis in August and September 2000.
- Her Majesty The Queen opened Parliament on 6
- The following events took place in Westminster
Hall during the year: the Annual Conference of the International
Law Society in July 2000, the Opening of the Annual Conference
of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association by Her Majesty The
Queen in September 2000, and the Millennium Exhibition, which
ran from May to September 2000 (see paragraph 54 above).
- The following major events took place in the
Royal Gallery: the annual ceremony to appoint new Queen's Counsel
(attended by former President Mandela), a ceremony to celebrate
the Centenary of the Commonwealth of Australia Act, and a ceremony
marking the meeting in London of the American Bar Association.
b. Visitors' Tour (Line of Route)
- After lengthy discussions in committees and in
the two Houses, the Line of Route was successfully opened to the
general public during the Summer recess on a trial basis. The
number of visitors was lower than expected but this was partly
due to a shorter opening period than had been anticipated. An
independent survey recorded a high satisfaction rating. The project
was completed within the financial constraints imposed by the
- A principal concern has been to improve the range
and quality of accommodation and services available to Peers.
The key to demonstrating progress in this respect was the successful
completion of new accommodation in 7 Little College Street, which
opened in December 2000 (see also Part I, paragraph 59).
- Negotiations are taking place to acquire additional
freehold property in the vicinity of the Palace of Westminster.
- The implementation of the revised Special Service
Agreement with the Metropolitan Police proceeds satisfactorily.
The Agreement has been extended to cover a full five-year period.
- The Summer Works Programme was completed on time.
Stone cleaning in Royal Court has greatly enhanced the appearance
of the Palace. The first phase of the scheme to improve the environment
of Old Palace Yard was completed and has attracted favourable
- An improved postal service has been introduced.
After some initial difficulties, it is operating satisfactorily.
|Black Rod's Department||1,553,000
5 Future Activities
The following activities are included in the Departmental Plan
- A programme to reorganise offices and desks during the summer
recess when the project to refurbish Millbank House is complete.
Members will occupy desks in Millbank House and in the space vacated
in the Palace.
- The completion of Phase 2 of the Old Palace Yard environmental
- A further trial of the opening of the visitors' tour (Line
of Route) to the general public.
- Monitoring of the effects of the reorganisation of the Parliamentary