HC Deb 19 December 2000 vol 360 cc203-4
42. Mrs. Lorna Fitzsimons (Rochdale)

To ask the hon. Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire, representing the House of Commons Commission, what progress the Commission has made on the implementation of the Braithwaite report. [141606]

Mr. Archy Kirkwood (on behalf of the House of Commons Commission)

Considerable progress has been made since the debate in the House on 20 January 2000. The Commission thereafter appointed an implementation manager to carry forward the implementation of the report's principal recommendations on an agreed timetable. Two reports detailing the steps taken have been made to the Commission and both are posted on the parliamentary intranet.

Mrs. Fitzsimons

I thank the hon. Gentleman for that answer. Is he aware of the frustration felt by many hon. Members who speak to him privately about the progress being made by the Commission, post-Braithwaite? Will he consider alternative mechanisms that would facilitate the greater efficiency, transparency and accountability that Braithwaite was meant to bring to the work of the commissioners?

Mr. Kirkwood

I am genuinely grateful to the hon. Lady for her interest in the matter. I share her frustration and I understand that hon. Members in all parts of the House are perplexed about the way in which the place works. The Braithwaite Commission dealt more with strategic planning, effective management and financial control than anything else, but I detect a view in all parts of the House that some of the issues should be taken forward as soon as possible. Once we see the report of the Senior Salaries Review Body, which is expected in February, I shall be willing to meet informally—possibly it would be best to do so in concert with my hon. Friend the Member for Middlesbrough (Mr. Bell), who is the Chairman of the Finance And Services Committee—with some of the hon. Lady's colleagues to find out the views of Back-Bench Members and help them to achieve their own ends.

Mr. Ian Bruce (South Dorset)

Has the hon. Gentleman had a chance to read the Information Committee report on computerisation for hon. Members? Has he noted that the rules of the House, which bind the Commission as well, prevent us from using efficiently the tens of millions of pounds that are being wasted on information technology in this place?

Mr. Kirkwood

The issue is before the Commission, particularly the way in which the departments of the House are acquiring their own IT equipment. We shall consider that as part of the Audit Committee process in the near future. The Senior Salaries Review Body is examining Members' services. I counsel hon. Members to wait for the report in February before we take any further steps.