All-Party Parliamentary Groups: The Commission issued the following press notice (Contact: Lawrence Ward – 3030):
House of Commons News Release
All Party Parliamentary Groups
The Speaker of the House of Commons, the Rt Hon John Bercow MP said:
“As Speaker I have long felt that the operation of All Party Parliamentary Groups needed to be improved to meet the high expectations of transparency and accountability required in public life. To that end the Lord Speaker and I established a review of APPGs in 2011. Recent events have heightened my concern and underlined the need for urgent and effective action”.
Statement by the House of Commons Commission
At its regular meeting yesterday evening, the House of Commons Commission briefly discussed the implications of recent media stories relating to members of both Houses, lobbying and all-party parliamentary groups. Two actions resulted from that discussion.
The first relates to the rules for APPGs. In 2011 the Speaker and the Lord Speaker asked a working group led by Rt Hon Jack Straw to undertake a review of APPGs. This was completed in 2012 and is available on the Parliament website. http://www.parliament.uk/business/news/2012/june/speakers-publish-working-group-report-on-all-party-groups/. The Committee on Standards (with input from the Administration Committee) is currently considering that report and the changes that might be required to the regime for registering and administering APPGs. The Speaker has today written to the chair of the Committee on Standards, Rt Hon Kevin Barron, asking that that his Committee prioritises this work with the intention that the Commission can discuss the conclusions before the House rises for the Summer recess.
There are currently 83 parliamentary passes that have been issued specifically to staff of APPGs (around 0.6% of the total number of passes). The Speaker has instructed the Serjeant at Arms to ask Members who have sponsored these parliamentary passes to confirm that they have been properly requested and allocated, as required by the rules governing APPGs. In the interim, no new passes in this category will be issued. The Serjeant at Arms has also been asked, as a matter of urgency, to consider with the Administration Committee whether it is necessary or appropriate for this category of passes to exist at all. The Commission also intends that, more generally, applications for passes for Members' staff should seek more information than at present about the purposes for which a pass is required.
Financial Remit 2014/15–2017/18: The Commission agreed a remit for the forthcoming financial planning round. In December 2010 the savings target was set as an Administration Estimate of £210m in 2014/15. It is expected that transfers between estimates (the largest of which stems from the merger of the staff pension scheme with the Civil Service scheme) will result in an estimated net reduction in spending of £23m. The Commission agreed that the target should be recalibrated to reflect these transfers, which, on current figures, would mean an Estimate of £187m in 2014/15 (excluding the one-off charge for the pension merger). (Contact: Myfanwy Barrett – 0833)
Catering Prices: The Commission agreed a revised mechanism for setting catering prices, and that there should be annual gross profit margin and net cost targets for the Catering Service. It also agreed that changes to prices should next take place on 1 August. Thereafter, prices will be adjusted in line with the agreed mechanism every six months. (Contact: Richard Tapner-Evans – 3686)
Education Centre: The Commission received an up-date on a feasibility study to deliver a temporary Education Centre for the start of the 2014/15 school year. The House resolved in June 2007 that there should be a dedicated space for educational visitors. (Contact: John Pullinger – 3635)
Observations on matters in the bulletin or other aspects of the House’s administration should be sent to [email protected] for the attention of the Commission.
Commission membership: Mr Speaker (Chair), Sir Paul Beresford, Frank Doran, Angela Eagle, Andrew Lansley (Leader of the House) and John Thurso.