Decisions 8 June 2009

Monday 8 June 2009 at 4.30pm in Speaker's House

Present:

The Speaker, in the Chair
Sir Stuart Bell
Mr Alan Duncan
Nick Harvey
Leader of the House
Mr David Maclean

1. OFFSITE CONSOLIDATION CENTRE (Commission)

The Commission:

  • agreed the principle of the project;
  • approved the outline costings;
  • gave the Accounting Officer the discretion to let the contract; and
  • charged the Management Board with overseeing the implementation of the project (in cooperation with its Lords counterpart).

2. FREEDOM OF INFORMATION PUBLICATION (MEC)

The Committee agreed that the scanned receipts and claims for 2004/05-2007/08 should be published on 18 June, if possible in the early morning to reduce the risk of a sudden peak in demand. The Committee also agreed that information on Members' use of stationery should be published at the same time, at transaction level, without being sent to Members for checking.

The Committee instructed the Department of Resources to begin the process of preparing 2008/09 receipts and claims in-house for publication, but deferred a firm decision about continuing on that basis until information was available from the investigation into the unauthorised disclosure of Members' expenses.

3. REASSESSMENT OF PAST ACA CLAIMS (MEC)

The Committee agreed:

  • that the reassessment would assess claims against the rules as they existed at the time, and would cover the four years from 2004/05 to 2007/08;
  • that expenses of Members who had died would not be covered;
  • that its preference was for the reassessment to be managed by Sir Thomas Legg with PricewaterhouseCoopers providing part of the team, and that the Comptroller and Auditor General should be consulted about this; and
  • a timescale for the reassessment, including three weeks for Members to comment.

4. ANY OTHER BUSINESS: PAY OF CATERING STAFF (Commission)

The Commission agreed that catering staff could be offered the same supplementary amount as had been offered to general staff in bands A to E.

5. DRAFT EQUALITY SCHEME (Commission)

The Commission:

  • agreed to the publication of the draft Scheme (with the changes set out in the paper) and consultation with the public;
  • approved the inclusion of a statement in the Members' Handbook along the following lines: "Parliamentary staff will treat Members with courtesy and respect. Members must show them the same consideration."

6. CONSTITUENCY OFFICES (MEC)

The Committee agreed that the scheme should be deferred, but that, subject to the recommendations of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, it should be ready for implementation in the next Parliament.

7. MEMBERS' STAFF VERIFICATION OFFICE (Commission)

The Commission agreed that the Members' Staff Verification Office should be established.

8. HOUSE EMPLOYMENT OF MEMBERS' STAFF (Commission)

The Commission confirmed its intention to examine the matter of the House employing Members' staff.

9. ANY OTHER BUSINESS: NEW VOTERS' GUIDE (Commission)

The Commission agreed that a new design should be requested for the New Voters' Guide to see if it could be made less personal and therefore less upsetting in cases where it was inadvertently sent to young people who had died.

10. ANY OTHER BUSINESS: ASSOCIATION OF FORMER MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT (Commission)

The Commission did not agree to a request from the Association of Former Members of Parliament for additional funding.

11. ANY OTHER BUSINESS: 2004 MINUTES OF THE MEC (MEC)

The Committee agreed to publish the minutes of the Committee for 2004.

12. TRIBUTES TO MR SPEAKER

Members expressed their appreciation of the manner in which Mr Speaker had chaired the Commission/MEC, and wished him well for the future.

13. NEXT MEETING

The next meeting of the Commission/MEC will take place at 5pm on Monday 29 June 2009 in Speaker's House.