House of Lords Commission
40.58The House of Lords Commission was first appointed in 2016, when it replaced the House Committee (which had previously overseen the administration of the House). This was part of a wider restructuring of domestic committees.1 The Commission's terms of reference are ‘to provide high-level strategic and political direction for the House of Lords Administration on behalf of the House’. The commission agrees the annual Estimate; supervises the arrangements relating to financial support for Members; and works with the Management Board to develop, set and approve the strategic business plan, the annual business and financial plans for the administration and monitors the performance of the administration against agreed targets.
The Commission is chaired by the Lord Speaker. The Senior Deputy Speaker, the Leaders of the major parties and the Convenor of the Crossbench Peers are ex officio members. Four backbenchers serve on the Commission, including the Chairmen of the Finance Committee and the Services Committee. Two external members who are not Lords Members are appointed by the House, on the expectation that they will serve for six years. The external members take part in proceedings of the Commission and may ask questions; however, they may not move any motion nor any amendment to any motion or draft report, and may not vote. An external member present at a Commission meeting at which a report is agreed may submit a paper setting out that external member's opinion on the report. Before the Commission makes a report to the House, the Chairman will ascertain whether any external member present wishes to submit such a paper; and any such paper shall be appended to the report in question before it is made to the House. External members do not count towards the Commission's quorum.2
The Commission is supported by two other domestic committees: the Finance Committee and the Services Committee. The Finance Committee considers expenditure on services provided from the Estimate for the House of Lords; prepares the forecast outturn with the assistance of the Management Board; monitors the financial performance of the House administration; and reports to the Commission on the financial implications of significant proposals. The Services Committee agrees day-to-day policy on member-facing services; provides advice on strategic policy decisions when sought by the Commission; and oversees the delivery and implementation of both. In addition, the Commission appoints two bodies which are not select committees. The Audit Committee comprises Members of the House plus two external members; its membership and terms of reference are the responsibility of the Commission. The Chairman of the Audit Committee is one of its external members, who is also an external member of the Commission. The Commission also appoints the Lords Members of the Joint Committee on Security, which advises the Speaker and Lord Speaker on security within the parliamentary estate (see para 40.14 ).