Decisions 14 July 2003

Monday 14 July 2003 at 5pm in Speaker's House


The Speaker, in the Chair
Mr Stuart Bell
Sir Patrick Cormack
Mr Eric Forth
Mr Peter Hain
Sir Archy Kirkwood

1.  Corporate business plan and three-year financial plan

The Director of Finance and Administration and Director of Estates were present.

The Commission considered and approved the three-year expenditure plans and draft corporate business plan prepared by the Board of Management, with the advice of the Finance and Services Committee. 

2.  Visitor centre: consultants' second report

The Serjeant at Arms, Director of Finance and Administration, Director of Estates and Chairman of the Group on Information for the Public were present.

The Commission discussed the second report of the consultants on possibilities for a visitor centre for Parliament.  The recommended options were: a reception and security building in the northern end of Cromwell Green, with a walkway leading to the north door of Westminster Hall; an exhibition centre in the rooms currently used as the W meeting rooms together with an extension into the southern end of Cromwell Green; and different options for the relocation of the W rooms.

The Commission agreed that the proposals formed a basis for discussion and consultation to be taken forward.  The Commission decided to convey this view to the Lords House Committee, and to suggest that the matter be remitted to domestic committees on both sides, meeting jointly when necessary, to work up a detailed proposal which could be put to both Houses.

3.  Review report on staffing and resources for the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards

The Commission approved a report from the Internal Review Service (IRS) on the Commissioner's staffing and resources.  The report's main findings were that four days a week remained an appropriate time commitment for the Commissioner;  that he should have the ability to buy in specialist investigative or other resources when needed; and that he had a continuing need for an office support post.  The Commission reiterated its commitment to deal flexibly with resourcing issues.

4.  Outcome of joint meeting with Lords House Committee

The Commission had an informal meeting with the Lords House Committee on 20 June.  Further to the discussions at that gathering, Commissioners considered the best way of taking forward joint work with the Lords on administrative issues.  Mindful of the need to co-ordinate work with that of both Houses' domestic committees, the Commission agreed to set up a working group jointly with the Lords House Committee, which would:

  • consider business only when requested by the House Committee and the Commission
  • be entirely informal, without executive authority
  • consist of three Members from either side, with Mr Bell, Sir Patrick Cormack and Sir Archy Kirkwood representing the Commission
  • be supported by the secretariats on each side, and by senior officers of each House depending on the matters being considered.

5.  Proposed Hansard Society Exhibition: A Parliament for the Future

The Commission considered a submission from the Hansard Society against the criteria for judging exhibition proposals for Westminster Hall, and gave its provisional approval for the exhibition (from a House of Commons point of view and subject to the agreement of the three controlling authorities: the Speaker, the Lord Chancellor and the Lord Great Chamberlain).  The approval was contingent on further information on the contents of the exhibition and potential sources of sponsorship. 

6.  Audit Committee: external member

Mr Forth reported that the three-year term of Sir Thomas Legg KCB QC as an external member of the Audit Committee had now expired.  He recommended that he be reappointed for a further three-year term, and the Commission agreed his recommendation.