House of Lords departments

Find out about the different offices in the House of Lords.

The Clerk of the Parliaments, currently David Beamish, is the most senior official in the House of Lords. His role is similar to that of a chief executive as he employs the staff and is responsible for management, administration and finances. He is the chief procedural adviser to the House and has responsibilities for maintaining the official records of the House and ensuring that the texts of Acts are accurate.

The Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod (or Black Rod for short) and his office are responsible for controlling access to and maintaining order within the House and its precincts. He is responsible for delivery of security, working with the Parliamentary Security Director and the Serjeant at Arms in the House of Commons. Black Rod also has important state and royal ceremonial duties. The current Black Rod is Lieutenant-General David Leakey.

House of Lords select committees investigate public policy, proposed laws and government activity. The Committee Office provides the House of Lords select committees with procedural and legal advice and administrative support.

The office also works with the House of Commons to support several joint committees which are made up of members of both Houses.

The Department of Facilities consists of Property and Office Services and Catering and Retail Services.

Property and Office Services

The office plans, supervises and controls works, maintenance and conservation projects across the House of Lords estate. It also provides office services, including cleaning, mail, photocopying and stationery to House of Lords members and staff. It works with the whips’ offices in the House of Lords to provide members’ accommodation. It manages the booking and setting up of meeting and banqueting rooms for members, committees and staff.

Catering and Retail Services

This department provides catering services for members, staff and guests of the House through a number of different restaurants, cafeterias and bars. The department operates entirely within the Palace of Westminster and Millbank House, serving an average of 1,500 meals per sitting day. It also provides a private function service for members and guests for events ranging from sit-down lunches and dinners for 12 to 120 guests to receptions for up to 350 guests.

There are over 900 events held each year serving more than 45,000 guests. The department retails House of Lords gifts and souvenirs, available to members, staff and guests through a gift shop. In the summer, the gift shop supplies the Westminster Hall Kiosk, which is open to the general public.

The Finance Department provides accounting and financial services to the House of Lords. Areas of work include:

  • financial management and administration
  • financial advice
  • financial reporting
  • resource and cash management
  • payments to members, suppliers and staff
  • procurement and contract management
  • accounting for receipts from members, staff and the public.

The Human Resources Office provides the personnel service for all House of Lords staff, some 500 in total. The office recruits staff, maintains pay and grading systems and other conditions of service, and negotiates and authorises pay. It also deals with occupational health, safety and welfare, training and superannuation. The office seeks to ensure that the House provides a satisfying working environment where staff are treated with respect.

The Department of Information Services consists of three information-focused offices.

Information Office

The Information Office provides information to the public and the press on the role, work and membership of the House of Lords. It does this through printed publications and online content, a press and media office, and a telephone and email enquiry service that responds to questions from the public. It supports the Lord Speaker and Information Committee in developing and delivering the House of Lords Outreach Programme, including outreach initiatives

Library

The House of Lords Library provides research, information and bibliographic services which support the parliamentary functions of the House of Lords.

Parliamentary Archives

The Parliamentary Archives provides a records management and archives service, answers enquiries about the archives and history of Parliament, and makes records accessible to members and the public.

The Journal Office provides a research and record-keeping service and advises on present and past procedural developments. It maintains the House’s membership and business records and compiles the Journals of the House (an authoritative record of proceedings). It also oversees the Table Office and the Printed Paper Office.

Table Office

The Table Office is where members go to table oral questions to ministers in advance of question time in the chamber. Members can also table written questions to ministers, which are printed at the back of Hansard. The office also prepares the House of Lords order paper which sets out the day’s business

Printed Paper Office

This office is responsible for providing documents, reports and copies of legislation required by members to help them carry out their work.

The Legislation Office consists of the Public and Private Bill Office and the Delegated Legislation Office. The Public and Private Bill Office manages and assists the processes relating to the House's consideration of public legislation and authorises, on behalf of the Clerk of the Parliaments, the publication of Acts of Parliament and Measures. It also supervises the passage of private legislation in accordance with the requirements of the House. The Delegated Legislation Office supports the scrutiny work of the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee and the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee, which review legislative work delegated to government ministers.

The department provides a record of the proceedings of the House. The Official Report (Hansard) is an edited verbatim report of proceedings in the chamber and Grand Committees. It also contains Written Answers and Written Ministerial Statements. Daily reports are produced in printed form by 7.30am the following day, but available online three hours after the debate.

The Overseas Office is responsible for relations between the House of Lords and overseas parliaments and the Lords members of the delegations to the inter-parliamentary assemblies. The activities of the office include providing advice and support to the Lord Speaker and other members, including inter-parliamentary conferences, visits and organising programmes for visitors from other parliaments.

The Overseas Office also holds the House of Lords budgets for the four inter-parliamentary bodies – the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, Inter-Parliamentary Union, British-American Parliamentary Group and British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly. The House of Lords also works closely with bicameral offices which support the work of both Houses.

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