Decisions 23 November 2009

Monday 23 November 2009 at 4.30 pm in Speaker's House

Present:

The Speaker, in the Chair
Sir Stuart Bell
Nick Harvey
Leader of the House
Sir George Young

1. DEMARCATION BETWEEN FUNCTIONS OF THE HOUSE AND THE IPSA

The Commission approved the proposed division of functions between the House and the IPSA, and agreed that the House should continue to provide advice to Members on HR issues relating to their staff.

2. REVIEW OF PAST ACA CLAIMS (MEC)

The Committee agreed that its decision of 20 July that Sir Thomas Legg should not cover payments under investigation by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards should not apply to any payments referred to the Parliamentary Commissioner after 20 July.

The Committee agreed that, following Sir Thomas Legg's review, Members should have the opportunity to appeal in respect of any repayments recommended in their own case. Members wishing to do so would be asked to provide (in writing) special reasons why in their own case it would not be fair or equitable to require the repayments recommended or to require them at the level recommended. The appeal process would deal with individual cases but would not reopen the whole of Sir Thomas's review. Appeals would be considered by a retired judge.

Terms of reference were agreed as follows:

'To consider written submissions made by any Member against a recommendation of the Legg review of past ACA claims in his or her case to require a repayment, and showing cause why there are special reasons in the individual case that it would not be fair and equitable to require repayment either at all, or at the level recommended.

To reach conclusions on such submissions in the light of any further evidence as may be required and to report in writing as soon as possible to the Members Estimate Committee.'

The Committee also approved the process proposed for appeals, and agreed that the reasoned judgment made on each appeal should be disclosed. It decided that the House should be asked to agree that, subject to the outcomes of any appeals, any repayments recommended by Sir Thomas Legg which were not made voluntarily should be deducted from the pay or allowances of Members.

3. CHILDCARE

The Commission agreed that a fully costed options appraisal for a childcare facility within the Palace of Westminster should be presented to its next meeting.

4. COMMUNICATIONS EXPENDITURE (MEC)

The Committee agreed:

  • That no claims for expenditure incurred on or after 1 January 2010 will be paid from Communications Expenditure, with the exception of expenditure on advertisements for surgeries, including posters (subject to restrictions set out below); maintenance of equipment funded from Communications Expenditure where there are contractual commitments; and maintenance in the technical sense (but not updating or development) of websites.
  • That advertisements for surgeries, where the expenditure is incurred on or after 1 January and is funded by Communications Expenditure, must not include party colours or logos and slogans, must not refer to other elected officials, must not include extraneous material, must be proportionate in nature, and may not include advertisements in national media or leaflets or flyers.
  • That no materials or resources purchased from Communications Expenditure before 1 January 2010 may be used on or after that date unless (i) the Member first returns the full cost of those resources to the House, or (ii) the Member entered into an unconditional obligation to pay for the resources using Communications Expenditure on or before 23 November 2009.
  • That where Communications Expenditure is used to fund an ongoing cost or item which occurs across both the restricted and unrestricted period, only the relevant fraction of the costs can be paid for out of Communications Expenditure, unless the Member entered into an unconditional obligation to pay for the resources using Communications Expenditure on or before 23 November 2009.

5. WHITE BOOK (MEC)

The Committee approved the provisions of the draft White Book (on pay and allowances of Members who leave the House at a general election) submitted to it in draft by the Committee on Members' Allowances, and agreed that it should be published.

6. AUDIT COMMITTEE PAPER OF 2007 (MEC)

The Committee agreed that the Audit Committee paper of 2007 should be published.

7. HOUSE'S INTERNATIONAL STRATEGY

The Commission agreed that further work should be done on the option of an International Affairs Department to develop a more strategic approach to the House's international activities, and that a paper should be presented to it in January.

8. FUTURE MEETING DATES

The Commission agreed to meet on 14 December, 18 January, 8 February, 8 March and 29 March.

9. NEXT MEETING

The next meeting of the Commission/MEC will take place at 4.30 pm on Monday 14 December 2009 in Speaker's House.