Decisions 13 December 2010

Monday 13 December 2010 at 4.30pm in Speaker’s House

Present:

The Speaker (Chair)
Rt Hon Hilary Benn
Frank Doran
Sir Paul Beresford
Sir George Young (Leader of the House)

Apologies: John Thurso

1.  DECLARATION OF INTERESTS (NEW COMMISSIONER)

Frank Doran declared his interests, as follows: Sponsorships: (a) Donations to the constituency party or association, which have been or will be reported by the party to the Electoral Commission: GMB trade union, £4,390 (Registered 11 June 2010)

2.  ADMINISTRATION ESTIMATE AND SHORT-TERM SAVINGS

The Commission agreed the following savings requiring specific approval, subject in some cases to provisos:

Proposal

Saving in 2011/12 (£k)

Provisos (if any)

End the daily printing of the question book, a compendium of all the questions to be answered on future days

865

Discontinue hard copy printing of documents such as the SI list and whole House proceedings on bills

120

10% cut in budget of delegations to parliamentary assemblies of Council of Europe, NATO, OSCE and WEU, largely reflecting use of cheaper tickets

125*

Discontinue hard copy printing of select committee written evidence

225

Discontinue hard copy printing of some public bill documents

146

End production of standing committee bound volume index

13

Close post office counters all day Saturday and on Monday–Thursday at 6pm instead of 7pm (No saving in 2011/12, but 2012/13 saving of £14,000 could be brought forward)

0*

Agreed in principle, but further work should be done on what the savings would be and what the usage is, and the possibility of remaining open to 7pm on weekdays should be reconsidered

External mail deliveries to be reduced from four per day to two

140

Agreed as regards rationalisation as a direction of travel, but concern about possible delay in delivery of post to Members and therefore a need for flexibility if in practice Members experience difficulties

Revised staffing arrangements for attendants, including Royal Mail staff taking on some responsibility for deliveries (Saving of £353,000 in years from 2012/13)

30*

Agreed, subject to the Commission reconsidering the matter if it does not prove possible to achieve the change without compulsory redundancies

10% reduction in cost of the cleaning contract, while maintaining existing standards of cleaning

236

Agreed on the basis that existing standards are at least maintained

Cancel New Voters’ Guide

600

Halve budget for acquisition of works of art (Counts as capital spending)

(50)

Reduce cost of House’s contract with Hansard Society from £70,000 to £50,000

10*

Close the switchboard service at times when few calls are received (8pm to 8am) (Saving of £80,000 a year from 2012/13)

0*

Agreed in principle, to deliver savings in future years, subject to there being 24-hour access to someone at Westminster who can take action in cases of emergency, and to maintaining availability to Members of information on internal phone numbers while the House is sitting

Decommissioning of Citrix dial-up system for remote access (Saving of £77,000 a year from 2012/13)

0*

Decommissioning of pager service

14*

The Commission also:

  • Agreed in principle the proposals in the paper for income generation;
  • Agreed a 10% reduction in grant to the four international parliamentary bodies and the History of Parliament Trust, subject in the latter case to the grant then being maintained at the same level for the four-year period to 2014/15;
  • Noted the other savings proposed for 2011/12 in the list circulated to all Members on 15 November, which would be for the Management Board to implement under delegated powers (apart from the catering savings which were to be considered first by the Administration Committee);
  • Agreed an Estimate of £228 million resource for 2011/12;
  • Agreed an Estimate of £20 million capital for 2011/12;
  • Agreed the following provisional figures for future years, which, when anticipated inflation is taken into account, achieve the planned 17% resource saving by 2014/15 on the basis used by the Government:

£ million

2012/13

2013/14

2014/15

Resource

224

220

210

Capital

43

38

42

3.  PAY REMIT

The Commission agreed a pay remit for all House staff, subject to considering further the existing system of performance awards for SCS staff.

4.  BUDGET FOR 2011 COMMONWEALTH PARLIAMENTARY CONFERENCE

The Commission agreed a reduction in the budget for the 2011 Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference from £1,943,707.50 to £1,627,237.03, with the proviso that there should be a corresponding further reduction if some of the VAT can be reclaimed; agreed that the House should be the contracting authority to make possible the reclaiming of VAT; and noted the intention of the CPA UK Branch to contribute its reserves towards the cost of the conference.

5.  INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS DIRECTORATE

The Commission:

  • Endorsed the intention that the International Relations Directorate be operating from 1 April;
  • Agreed that the British American Parliamentary Group should not be part of the International Relations Directorate;
  • Agreed that Mr Speaker, together with the Lord Speaker, should write formally to the international parliamentary bodies, once the Lords House Committee has considered the issue in January, in order to trigger the process for winding up their affairs;
  • Agreed the proposed model of governance, including the recommendations in the paper on an International Relations Consultative Committee;
  • Agreed a funding split in the next financial year of 73% Commons and 27% Lords;
  • Instructed the working group on the implementation of the IRD to prepare a paper on arrangements and criteria for occasional discretionary payments to All-Party Parliamentary Country Groups; and
  • Agreed that savings in the cost of the IRD could be considered in future years once it had had time to become established.

6.  2009/10 MEMBERS ESTIMATE AUDIT (MEC)

The Committee amended and agreed the statement on the 2009/10 Members Estimate audit. It also agreed that a list of repayments would be published in due course, subject to Members listed having the opportunity to check the information and add explanations.

7.  FUTURE OF THE MEMBERS ESTIMATE (COMMISSION AND MEC)

The Commission and Committee took note of the paper.

8.  TERMS OF REFERENCE OF THE ADMINISTRATION ESTIMATE AUDIT COMMITTEE

The Commission agreed revised terms of reference for the Administration Estimate Audit Committee.

9.  COMMISSION BULLETIN (COMMISSION AND MEC)

The Commission and Committee agreed to send short bulletins by email to Members after their meetings, reporting and explaining their decisions.

10.  DATE OF NEXT MEETING

The next meeting of the Commission/MEC will take place on Monday 24 January 2011 at 4.30pm in Speaker’s House.