House of Commons Commission

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6.2The current statutory framework for the governance of the House of Commons was created by the House of Commons (Administration) Act 1978, which established the House of Commons Commission. The Act was most recently amended on 26 March 2015 by the House of Commons Commission Act 2015. This Act, which was passed following recommendations in a report from the Committee on the Governance of the House of Commons,1 provided for an expanded membership of the Commission, to include two external and two official members, and introduced a statutory responsibility for the Commission to set strategic priorities and objectives for the services provided by the House departments.

The Commission employs the staff of the House (other than the Clerk, Clerk Assistant, the Serjeant at Arms and the Speaker's personal staff), ensures that their terms and conditions remain broadly in line with those of the home Civil Service, appoints an Accounting Officer, lays the annual House of Commons: Administration Estimate (budget) for House of Commons services before the House2 and determines the structure and functions of the departments of the House.

The membership of the House of Commons Commission is specified in section 1 of the 1978 Act, as amended by section 1(2) of the House of Commons Commission Act 2015. There are seven parliamentary members, two external members and two official members. The Act specifies that the parliamentary members are to be the Speaker (who chairs the Commission)3, the Leader of the House of Commons, a member of the House of Commons nominated by the Leader of the Opposition and four other members of the House of Commons appointed by the House of Commons, none of whom shall be a Minister of the Crown. The two external members (who may not be Members or staff of either House) are appointed by resolution of the House of Commons. The two official members are the Clerk of the House of Commons and the Director General (Operations) of the House of Commons.4 The 1978 Act provides for the Commission to continue during a dissolution of Parliament.5

The Commission is not responsible for expenditure on Members' salaries, pensions and expenses nor those of their staff, which are a matter for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA).6 The Members' Estimate Committee, which consists of those Members of Parliament who are members of the Commission, retains responsibilities for some expenditure on Member services. It is appointed under Standing Order No 152D to consider matters relating to the House of Commons: Members' Estimate.

The Commission is advised and supported in its work by the Finance Committee, the Administration Committee and the Audit and Risk Committee, and the Commons Executive Board.

Footnotes

  1. 1. HC (2014–15) 692, 17 December 2014.
  2. 2. For an account of the development of the House's financial systems since the passing of the 1978 Act, see previous editions of Erskine May (eg 23rd edn, 2004, p 23).
  3. 3. HC(A)A 1978 sch 1(4).
  4. 4. HC(A)A 1978, s 1(2C).
  5. 5. HC(A)A 1978, sch 1(3).
  6. 6. See para 6.47.